Australia

Aboriginal Revisionism

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aboriginalhouse

History is written by the victors, but sometimes a scholar can correct the record:

Before white settlers arrived, Australia's indigenous peoples lived in houses and villages, and used surprisingly sophisticated architecture and design methods to build their shelters, new research has found….

The findings, by the anthropologist and architect Dr Paul Memmott, of the University of Queensland, discredits a commonly held view in Australia that Aborigines were completely nomadic before the arrival of Europeans 200 years ago.

The belief was part of the argument used by white settlers to claim that Australia was terra nullius—the Latin term for land that belonged to nobody.

Few of the original buildings remain, because "local authorities burned or bulldozed the structures in the belief they were health hazards."

Memmott outlines his evidence in a thick and pricey new book, Gunyay, Goondie + Wurley. If you don't feel like shelling out $70 for that, you can see a gallery of Aboriginal architecture here.

NEXT: In Praise of Johnny Rotten, Again.

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  1. It’s too bad the white settlers didn’t call themselves “The New Aborigines”.

  2. Wow! Those pictures are AMAZING! They were so advanced! Had I not have seen the pictures that you linked to I would have believed the white colonizer’s propaganda about the aborigines having no advanced society, technology or culture. This disproves those racist lies once and for all.

    Again, thanks for the AMAZING pictures, they were a veritable Atlantis!

    mnuez
    http://www.mnuez.blogspot.com

    P.S. I take a backseat to no one in being skeptical about what are claimed to be the “benefits” of Western Civilization but, like it or not, let’s not start fabricating the record about who did what. I can’t imagine that a single one of your readers will be surprised by the fact that aborigines built the occasional palm-frond hut. Oh? But they should be because some Aussie scholar somewhere said that they had never ever EVER built any huts at all? Yah… I mean seriously, if they had something really advanced that would blow our minds, then sure, share the news, but fuckin HUTS? ~ m

  3. He’s discrediting the view that Australia was only populated nomadic tribes which gave the settlers reason to say that they could just move in. And just because you don’t live in a hut, that doesn’t give you or anyone else the right to bulldoze someone’s home just because you want their land.

    Douchbag.

  4. I was looking forward to see the “houses” described in the article. If that is a house, you should see the duplex the hornets built in my shed.

  5. mnuez, did you miss the hut that was built on the priciples of a Klemperer rosette? Jeez, pay more attention.

  6. You both like to spend a lot of time dehumanizing your fellow man, eh?

  7. Hi Marc! You read in my comment a justification for conquest based on access to superior technology? Cool! cause that’s EXACTLY what I was saying, as for example when I wrote: “I take a backseat to no one in being skeptical about what are claimed to be the ‘benefits’ of Western Civilization…”

    Great reading comprehension, bro!

    mnuez

  8. Umm, its possible to be nomadic and live in temporary structures, especially if they can be built quickly. So I’m not even sure the traditional view that the aborigines were nomadic has been refuted.

    Not that this justifies etc. etc.

  9. Great reading comprehension, bro!

    Since we’re on the subject of reading comprehension, you should note that the claim the scholar is disputing involves whether the Aborigines were a completely nomadic people, not how advanced their technology was.

    Umm, its possible to be nomadic and live in temporary structures, especially if they can be built quickly. So I’m not even sure the traditional view that the aborigines were nomadic has been refuted.

    There’s more details in the article – e.g., “In the rainforest area around Cairns, in Queensland, where there was heavy rain for much of the year, people would occupy such villages for up to a year, he said.” It describes stone structures as well.

  10. If you read the original you find some interesting information but it seems to dispute the actual main claim of this man. He says the Aborigines were not nomadic as claimed and to prove this he says that in some cases they stayed in one place for up to one whole year! That implies that this is the longest period of time he could find. The article says “people would occupy such villages for up to a year”. The implication is that most didn’t stay that long and none he found stayed longer.

    In other words that confirms the nomadic nature of the Aborigines, it doesn’t dispute it in spite of the Professor’s claims to the contrary.

  11. Jesse Walker,

    A general reassessment of the technology, culture, etc. of Australia’s indigenous peoples has been underway for a while now.

    One long held claim was that they did not have agriculture; but it has become apparent that they had a kind of agriculture or at least proto-agriculture at the time of European settlement.

  12. BTW, Jared Diamond discusses some of these issues in Guns, Germs and Steel.

  13. The pictured hut is Updated and was not part of the original post.

    It is a picture of the VERY best and MOST impressive hut out of all those listed.

    No linked-to hut remotely equals it in “surprisingly sophisticated architecture and design methods”.

    And this – the photographic pinnacle of “houses and villages” – somehow overturns some belief that any of us had ever had about Aborigines?

    mnuez

    P.S. The point of this comment is simply to point out that this blog post was updated without the expected “UPDATE” acknowledgment and that the update is slightly disingenuous as it offers for photographic evidence the ONE AND ONLY hut of all those linked to that might rival what the Egyptians might have built over fifteen thousand years ago.

  14. The Australian Aboriginals and other Native Peoples were as adapted to their environment as any “modern” people.

    Most of us would simply starve if we were placed in a pre-industrial society because we wouldn’t know how to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves. In that environment, we would appear “backward”.

  15. What am I supposed to do, mnuez? Put the word “update” above the photo?

    Yes, I forgot to include the pic when I first put up the post. Happens a lot. I could have made a note to that effect when I added the photograph five minutes later, but I didn’t, because no one in their right mind gives a shit.

    As for the architecture and design methods, I rather doubt you’re in a position to judge. What matters is how effective a structure is in keeping out precipitation, avoiding extreme temperatures, etc., not how pretty it is.

  16. Nomadic or not, I don’t consider a civilization advanced unless they have discovered the dildo…

  17. For those of you dising the hut, keep in mind that the only reasons anyone ever built more than huts are population density and bad weather (with the occasional glory-be-to-god).

    Think about it; if you live in a climate that was about 75-80*F year round, you don’t exactly need thermopane windows. When nobody you’ve ever even heard of has ever traveled further than the next valley, how high do you have to build?

  18. Anyway, there has been a lot of new research on indigenous populations throughout the world and it has often as not undermined earlier notions regarding the technology, lifestyles, etc. of indigenoud populations. The networks of cities in the Amazon is a good example of this.

    Anyway, in a lot of instances because a population did not build monumental architecture, etc. out of stone the nature of these societies is lost until one does a lot of digging, etc.

  19. I’m not impressed by the hut.

  20. The time has come to say “Fair’s Fair”!!

    I was just shocked that there was no Midnight Oil reference yet it the comments.

    There’ll be food on the table tonight…

  21. Gee, when I was a kid, my family would decamp every summer to a beachside bungalow with neither heat nor A/C. We’d return to our regular lodgings just before school started, where we could make use of such sophisticated features as a concrete basement and a furnace. Were we then nomads who could have been dispossessed by anyone with superior contracting skills?

    Kevin

  22. Actually I find that structure rather attractive.

    For all the “superior” architecture and culture of invading or migrating “advanced” cultures…where doso many people fanataise about going on vacation or retiring…to some simple thatched roof hut on an undeveloped tropical shore.

  23. I think we are all missing the point here – not only were they much more advanced than the European land-grabbers led us to believe, but with their lack of a strong central government they were free from the many ills of the regulatory state.

  24. Few of the original buildings remain, because “local authorities burned or bulldozed the structures in the belief they were health hazards.”

    Ha! Some things never change. “We’re going to make you homeless because your current home doesn’t meet our health standards.”

  25. Missionaries drew on Aboriginal technology for buildings, using tree bark for roofs and walls, and grass thatching for gables, as well as reeds and animal hides, he added.- The Grauniad

    `Cause nobody from Britain knew what a thatched roof was before alighting on the farthest shore, right?

    Kevin

  26. My comment here had absolutely nothing to do with race or any justification conquest. I do nevertheless, have lots to say on the subject. In fact I just came across a post here by Ronald Bailey entitled: “Is Nobelist James Watson, Co-Discoverer of the Structure of DNA, a Racist?” wherein Watson makes some fine points about the importance of recognizing the differences between peoples when we attempt to help others and in response Ronald quotes himself off saying something like, “aw shucks, let’s still be nice to SMART black people, okay?”.

    In any event, the post is from yesterday and still here on the main page but considering the impressive output of the Reason staff (and I mean that entirely complimentary, this blog is one of the best and most interesting in my opinion) I doubt that many people will read my comment there. Considering the subjects that appear to loom behind the surface on THIS comment thread however, I think that my comment there (posted all of ten minutes ago) is important to reprint here as well:

    The fault, dear Ronnie, is not in our stars but in ourselves. It is EXTRAORDINARILY obvious that the main factor, out of which most other factors flow, for black non-success in our society is genetic.

    That being the case, you and all of your libertarian friends have the choice of either choosing to be Nazis or to cease being Free Marketers (capitalized as all religions are).

    People don’t suffer the ravages of Western Civilizations bottom rungs because they “choose” to live a life of worry, stress and struggle for survival. They live among the dregs because they aren’t as “fit” as you to “survive” the Free Market that you worship.

    In my opinion therefore they have every natural right to rise up and take from you your status, class and goodies by the force of their brute fists. Your capitalism has resigned them to a world where they live constantly at the edge of despair and they have every right to upturn your applecart.

    So, again, racial inequality May be an illusion of mine… but I don’t think so.

    Of course however race has nothing to do with it. The evil nature of the unregulated free market destroys the souls of less able Japanese people in a racially monolithic society as well. Pygmies are not the only people less able to become top-notch lawyers than is Alan Dershowitz. Lots of Ashkenazi Jews have low intelligence or other personality faults that keep them from attaining “the American dream” as well – and these people are just as likely to suffer the ill effects of the “greed is good” (or was it “God”?) doctrine as is a Birmingham black kid. But the issue of “race” may turn out to be the one that finally shows your type for who you are: people who are simply Lucky enough to be born with the right intellectual goods to succeed in the modern economic system and who justify their success through self-congratulatory claims that “anyone can do it!”, meaning that you have what you have because you Deserve it rather than because of luck-of-the-genes.

    And who supports you? who props you up? the very people who have the most to lose by it. The believers in the religious doctrine of Racial Tabula Rasa who keep up their laughable patter about how “racism” is what’s “keeping the black man down”. No doubt this constantly expressed belief improves some people’s sense of self-worth by constantly telling them that “your brains are not inferior!” (Or Dumbo Diamond style, “Yali’s people are SUPERIOR!”) but it serves the one overriding goal of Genetic Meritocracy by allowing the capitalistic system to continue to function as it does.

    Cheers Gentle Libertarians ~

    mnuez
    http://www.mnuez.blogspot.com

  27. What am I supposed to do, mnuez? Put the word “update” above the photo?

    I had some Mnuez-types go after my professional work a couple of months ago, so I will share with you the lessons I learned: what you are supposed to do is admit that you don’t have the balls to tell The Truth about the Secret Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy To Destroy The White Race, because as a media slave you dare not offend your Zionist masters (who of course control the entire media).

    That is, of course, assuming you’re merely an unwitting pawn in the S.W.J.C.T.D.T.W.R. Maybe you’re more of a puppetmaster rather than a puppet? Either way, you’re going to be very, very sorry when the Day Of The Rope comes, unless you repent NOW and admit that your entire career to date has been a lie.

    I hope this helps.

  28. It turns out that the start of mnuez’ rant is just as EXTRAORDINARILY untrue and the rest is just as EXTRAORDINARILY incoherent as it was when he posted several threads down.

  29. The S.W.J.C.T.D.T.W.R. would be pretty silly, considering Jews are white.

  30. The S.W.J.C.T.D.T.W.R. would be pretty silly, considering Jews are white.

    Not according to the white nationalists, they’re not. Seriously.

    And no, don’t ask me to explain the logic. I can’t do that anymore than I can explain why the theme of “Catcher in the Rye” was really “Kill John Lennon.” Darn stupid sanity keeps getting in the way.

  31. they’re not white because they killed jesus. it’s true!

    plus you know the horns.

  32. people would occupy such villages for up to a year I think sedentism requires at least a year and a day.Those aborigines sure fucked it up with that almost or just a year stuff.Forfeited their whole fucking Continent!

    Dumb Savages never realized just how close they were to stepping up to Barbarism.

  33. One long held claim was that they did not have agriculture; but it has become apparent that they had a kind of agriculture or at least proto-agriculture at the time of European settlement.

    Damn that proto-agriculture!When THE MAN points to your plants the correct answer is “We meant to do that”.Step up Savages, you were this close and you blew it. Unilinear cultural evolution is a bitch.

  34. I think the early Europeans were suprisingly sophisticated. It took us another 200 years to craft our Kelo decision.

  35. Jennifer,
    “Either way, you’re going to be very, very sorry when the Day Of The Rope comes…”

    Not to be nit-picky, but it’s actually the Great Day of the Rope. Until then I can be found mixing with mongrel(sp) races.

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