The canopy of stars is a central presence in the daily and spiritual lives of Aboriginal Tasmanians. With the arrival of European colonists, Tasmanian astronomical knowledge and traditions were interrupted and dispersed. Fragments can be found scattered in the ethnographic and historical record throughout the nineteenth century. We draw from these ethnohistorical documents to analyse and reconstruct Aboriginal astronomical knowledge in Tasmania. This analysis demonstrates that stars, the Milky Way, constellations, dark nebula, the Sun, Moon, meteors and aurorae held cultural, spiritual and subsistence significance for the Aboriginal cultures of Tasmania. We move beyond a monolithic view of Aboriginal astronomical knowledge in Tasmania, commonly portrayed in previous research, to lay the groundwork for future ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork with Aboriginal elders and communities.
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
- Pub Date:
- December 2016
- Cultural Astronomy; ethnoastronomy; Indigenous Knowledge Systems;
- Aboriginal Australians;
- Physics - History and Philosophy of Physics
- Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 19(3)