Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
back to earth

No "Neolithic Revolution" .

58 posts in this topic

Why did the Australian Aboriginals not develop technology beyond the level found at first European settlement in Australia  ? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, back to earth said:

Why did the Australian Aboriginals not develop technology beyond the level found at first European settlement in Australia  ? 

Arguably, it was because there was no environmental pressure to drive the need for innovation. 

Alternatively, their culture was one of balance with the environment rather than dominance over the environment.

8 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Arguably, it was because there was no environmental pressure to drive the need for innovation. 

Alternatively, their culture was one of balance with the environment rather than dominance over the environment.

That would be it from my limited understanding of their culture. Can anyone speak of their spiritual beliefs would 'advancement' been seen as a good or bad thing? In lots of cultures changing from traditional ways can be seen as 'bad' or even insulting to ancestors.

Most cultures tended to stay at low levels of technology, a few adopted outside tech if they came across it while a few, very few became very innovative.

You can see that clearly in NA native tribes, when Europeans arrived they were already starting to take up agriculture in a small way and once they came across horses completely adapted their culture to utilize them.

zzzspreadmaizeNAMER.jpg

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Arguably, it was because there was no environmental pressure to drive the need for innovation. 

Alternatively, their culture was one of balance with the environment rather than dominance over the environment.

Going on that logic the same could have have been said for most if not all civilisations. Im prolly more inclined to say the main reason the Australian natives were stuck in the stone age was lack of contact with others and exchange of ideas.  

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Captain Risky said:

Going on that logic the same could have have been said for most if not all civilisations. Im prolly more inclined to say the main reason the Australian natives were stuck in the stone age was lack of contact with others and exchange of ideas.  

Except they DID have pressures to innovate. The Ice Age, neighbouring tribes, limited resources, wildly changing seasons. Whereas here the food, although seasonal, was always available. The neighbours were a long way away, the climate was predictable and not exactly wildly variable.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Except they DID have pressures to innovate. The Ice Age, neighbouring tribes, limited resources, wildly changing seasons. Whereas here the food, although seasonal, was always available. The neighbours were a long way away, the climate was predictable and not exactly wildly variable.

Im sure there is no particular right or wrong answer. But rather a combination. Looking at South and Central America which has a similar temperature and seasons to Australia, development occurred in leaps and bounds.  

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Captain Risky said:

Im sure there is no particular right or wrong answer. But rather a combination. Looking at South and Central America which has a similar temperature and seasons to Australia, development occurred in leaps and bounds.  

But there, there was the pressure of surviving in the jungle 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

But there, there was the pressure of surviving in the jungle 

Mate, Australia, as you know, is massive with varying climates and geography. North Queensland, NT.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Captain Risky said:

Mate, Australia, as you know, is massive with varying climates and geography. North Queensland, NT.   

Indeed, and the land lived on by the various First Peoples groups was equally vast.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a map representing the world in 2000 BC. 
yellow = hunter-gatherers
purple = nomadic pastoralists
green = simple farming societies
orange = complex farming societies/chiefdom
blue = state societies
red lines = bronze working areas

1200px-World_2000_BC.svg.png

Let's see what is the nature of vegetation in these place:

slide_10.jpg

Most of Australia would be made of subtropical deserts, in these place only pastoralists live, unless there is some big river(s) like the Nile or the Indus to irrigate the fields. That being said there could have been some import of agriculture from the polynesians for the rain forest region in the North East.

Fittingly, a map of today Australia agriculture industries where a lot of land is dedicated to sheep and cattle ranching:

Image result for agriculture australia map

So the land is not really good for agriculture to beging with. Then, agriculture usually arise when people reach the right density and need to help nature to give them enough food. They start with a bit of clearing fruit trees and purposely sewing them, placing seeds of their favorite plants where they would like to have them. They protect the animals they eat from other predaors in seasons they are vulnerable. They process their food to make the good seasons' ressources last far into the bad ones (North Americans' pemmican comes to my mind). At one point, they get so good a managing their ressources that they don't need to move around anymore, so they settle in more and more permanent villages.

There may also have been some trouble with the climate. Generally, since the end of the last glacial period, ice sheets melting made the world climate more wet.  But maybe it was getting drier in Australia at the same key period when other humans started to work on agriculture...

Image result for climate map australia

Looking at the ma, the only good place would have been in the North savanahs, the East forest and the very Southern most parts.

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

But there, there was the pressure of surviving in the jungle 

Not all of it is jungle by any means, but as you mentioned, neighbors can provide a lot of pressure.  

As you may have read, North American inhabitants were healthier, more robust and taller than their European visitors.  Agriculture can support larger populations but also invites disease and larger social pressures.  

Benjamin Franklin commented that when an Indian was taken from a tribe and educated in white culture, at the first good opportunity he or she made an escape and ran back to the tribe.  When a white captive was rescued from captivity and brought back to white civilization, often they would escape and head back for the tribe they were living with.  Maybe hunter gatherer clan tribal and family centered cultures have some appeal.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Gingitsune said:

Here is a map representing the world in 2000 BC. 
yellow = hunter-gatherers
purple = nomadic pastoralists
green = simple farming societies
orange = complex farming societies/chiefdom
blue = state societies
red lines = bronze working areas

1200px-World_2000_BC.svg.png

Excellent map - which I am stealing!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

Excellent map - which I am stealing!


There was a suite of them with the world around 1000 BC, 1 AD, 1000 AD which show how agriculture/pastoralism and civilization was sprending through the millenia, but I couldn't find them back tonight. Maybe you will be more lucky than me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

8 minutes ago, Gingitsune said:


There was a suite of them with the world around 1000 BC, 1 AD, 1000 AD which show how agriculture/pastoralism and civilization was sprending through the millenia, but I couldn't find them back tonight. Maybe you will be more lucky than me.

Yeah they are prefect and 'one picture = a thousand words' is true in this case.

 

8 minutes ago, Gingitsune said:


There was a suite of them with the world around 1000 BC, 1 AD, 1000 AD which show how agriculture/pastoralism and civilization was sprending through the millenia, but I couldn't find them back tonight. Maybe you will be more lucky than me.

Here you go

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_world_history#/media/File:World_1000_BCE.png

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_world_history#/media/File:World_500_BCE.png

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_world_history#/media/File:World_323_BCE.png

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_world_history#/media/File:World_200_BCE.PNG

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_world_history#/media/File:Old_World_820.png

 

World  323 BC Alexander the Great shakes things up

1920px-World_323_BCE.png

 

Edited by Hanslune
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, back to earth said:

Why did the Australian Aboriginals not develop technology beyond the level found at first European settlement in Australia  ? 

Australia apparently lacked animals that could be domesticated for pack animals, such as donkeys or horses.  Also Australia lacked the specific wild plants and animals that had been domesticated as staple food in the rest of the world. 
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, atalante said:
Australia apparently lacked animals that could be domesticated for pack animals, such as donkeys or horses.  Also Australia lacked the specific wild plants and animals that had been domesticated as staple food in the rest of the world. 

Yes I wonder what Guns, Germs, and Steel  said about this I read it so long ago I no longer remember.

Here we go a summary of mentions of Australia:

 

Quote

As early Western Asian civilizations began to trade, they found additional useful animals in adjacent territories, most notably horses and donkeys for use in transport. Diamond identifies 13 species of large animals over 100 pounds (45 kg) domesticated in Eurasia, compared with just one in South America (counting the llama and alpaca as breeds within the same species) and none at all in the rest of the world. Australia and North America suffered from a lack of useful animals due to extinction, probably by human hunting, shortly after the end of the Pleistocene, whilst the only domesticated animals in New Guinea came from the East Asian mainland during the Austronesian settlement some 4,000–5,000 years ago. Sub-Saharan biological relatives of the horse including zebras and onagers proved untameable; and although African elephants can be tamed, it is very difficult to breed them in captivity;[2][3] Diamond describes the small number of domesticated species (14 out of 148 "candidates") as an instance of the Anna Karenina principle: many promising species have just one of several significant difficulties that prevent domestication.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel#Geography

 

Quote

Due to the Anna Karenina principle, surprisingly few animals are suitable for domestication. Diamond identifies six criteria including the animal being sufficiently docile, gregarious, willing to breed in captivity and having a social dominance hierarchy. Therefore, none of the many African mammals such as the zebra, antelope, cape buffalo, and African elephant were ever domesticated (although some can be tamed, they are not easily bred in captivity). The Holocene extinction event eliminated many of the megafauna that, had they survived, might have become candidate species, and Diamond argues that the pattern of extinction is more severe on continents where animals that had no prior experience of humans were exposed to humans who already possessed advanced hunting techniques (e.g. the Americas and Australia).

An aside the Anna Karenina principle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Karenina_principle

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, atalante said:
Australia apparently lacked animals that could be domesticated for pack animals, such as donkeys or horses.  Also Australia lacked the specific wild plants and animals that had been domesticated as staple food in the rest of the world. 

That wouldn't really matter as crops and domesticated animals are spread around quite a lot. Except for a few agriculture origin spots, everything else is just multiplyed and distributed around as agriculture peoples expand and exchange around. And seeing that one of these spot is just a few degrees North of the best agriculture suitable land of Australia, the question is puzzling.

450px-Centres_of_origin_and_spread_of_ag

Why didn't the Austronesians colonize the North of Australia as they expanded through the Pacific Ocean? Why didn't they exchange stuff with their Australian neighbors? They were so close to the source of Papu mainland, they probably had the same indegenous plants, yet...

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Gingitsune said:

That wouldn't really matter as crops and domesticated animals are spread around quite a lot. Except for a few agriculture origin spots, everything else is just multiplyed and distributed around as agriculture peoples expand and exchange around. And seeing that one of these spot is just a few degrees North of the best agriculture suitable land of Australia, the question is puzzling.

450px-Centres_of_origin_and_spread_of_ag

Why didn't the Austronesians colonize the North of Australia as they expanded through the Pacific Ocean? Why didn't they exchange stuff with their Australian neighbors? They were so close to the source of Papu mainland, they probably had the same indegenous plants, yet...

Yeah that is part of the 'off limits' Australia Mystery of why no one but the AA paid any attention to it. I mean others visited but no one came, no multiple waves of HSS settlers and I am surprised too that no earlier versions of man came into that area. Is northern Australia that hostile to human life?

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, back to earth said:

Why did the Australian Aboriginals not develop technology beyond the level found at first European settlement in Australia  ? 

They were too busy drining tinnies and catching prawns for the barbie ....

Oh, wait, no, thats why recent European settlers in Australia havent developed technology beyond that level :D

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously, I think Risky is partly right - lack of contact with other cultures/exchange of ideas.  It was that which drove the many European revolutions from the Neolithic to the modern day.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

Yeah that is part of the 'off limits' Australia Mystery of why no one but the AA paid any attention to it. I mean others visited but no one came, no multiple waves of HSS settlers and I am surprised too that no earlier versions of man came into that area. Is northern Australia that hostile to human life?

Exactly, especially since it wasn't always an island, back to the last glacial period, around 200,000 years ago to about 20,000, the country was connected to Papua.

Image result for asia last glacial maximum map

So why such a gap between Papua and Australia. And indeed, why didn't anyone came take a bit of land on the island after the Australian Aborigenes? Were they so fierce? Was the land so hopeless? Why didn't the locals adopt some of their neighbors' agriculture, who had chickens, dogs, pigs, coconuts, yams, taros, bananas,  etc.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Hanslune said:

That would be it from my limited understanding of their culture. Can anyone speak of their spiritual beliefs would 'advancement' been seen as a good or bad thing? In lots of cultures changing from traditional ways can be seen as 'bad' or even insulting to ancestors.

I have heard some type of explanations like that, but based more on practicality than belief or tradition.  When asked; "Why no boats " , the response was ; " No big rivers. a big boat is too much trouble, you need to cross a river, you make a bark canoe, cross and leave it there - didn't need them .

Yet when they had contact with Indonesians ( trepan fishermen) - maybe as far back as 1600 - they certainly accepted metal axe heads and other 'new technology'.  Including the idea of dug out canoes .  Yet earlier art  ( 'Bradshaw' ) seems to indicate they came here in dugout canoes with high prow and stern.   :unsure:

22 hours ago, Hanslune said:

Most cultures tended to stay at low levels of technology, a few adopted outside tech if they came across it while a few, very few became very innovative.

You can see that clearly in NA native tribes, when Europeans arrived they were already starting to take up agriculture in a small way and once they came across horses completely adapted their culture to utilize them.

 

 

There seems to be indications of the beginning of 'farming'  or  'proto-farming' in the  south east at the time of European settlement.   I wonder what that would have developed to?  I guess we will never know now.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Captain Risky said:

Going on that logic the same could have have been said for most if not all civilisations. Im prolly more inclined to say the main reason the Australian natives were stuck in the stone age was lack of contact with others and exchange of ideas.  

Yes, they certainly became isolated on that level ... in their later history .  In their more recent history they had some contact with Indonesia, and got some 'new tech' via trade (and even picked up a bit of 'Islam' ... but before that   ....    zilch    (it seems) .

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Except they DID have pressures to innovate. The Ice Age, neighbouring tribes, limited resources, wildly changing seasons. Whereas here the food, although seasonal, was always available. The neighbours were a long way away, the climate was predictable and not exactly wildly variable.

 

They lived through  radical climate change , major shifting in sea levels, desertification , species extinctions ....    but the 'plan'  ( our outlook , or method, or what ever it was ) seemed to be for the people and societies to adapt to what happened , not to continue on the same and try to alter the food supply or environment , in the same way as others did.

Perhaps it was the  animal availability, First settlers reported seeing turned over  earth, as if ploughed, but simply.   A man with a 'digging stick plough' doesn't create much environmental havoc, but connect the plough up to some ox ... it can.   Also their firestick 'farming' was very different  and 'more gentle and gradual 'process to 'slash and burn', which they never seemed to have practiced .

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

But there, there was the pressure of surviving in the jungle 

 

I see you have never been trapped in  the forest around my place ;  'lawyer vine'  (  also known as 'wait-a-while' ... while you remove the long thin tendrils of it with hooked barbs that wrap around the clothing and skin, 'native grape' vine , stinging trees ( that have been known to kill dogs and horses ) .  ;) 

Where I live, I have read two reports from the government surveyor first expedition into the area ( overland, not by sea and up river )  upper valley (beyond navigational head)  the very first white people in the area, reported virtually impenetrable undergrowth, as above.

I asked the local indigenous about it and they said " Oh, we never go up there !  You be crazy to live there. Maybe pass through sometimes or go there best time of year ( our  early spring ) for turtle .    Whereas , at the coast, the weather is milder, and the variety of food greater and , in many cases, travel is easier.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.