Speaking engagements – indigenous memories and Stonehenge

I have just updated the speaking engagements for the year adding the new ones coming up. All details can be found here.

Although I am speaking about the whole of Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, it is the aspects of the extraordinary indigenous memory systems and the link to Stonehenge which tends to be the aspects of most interest. So far!

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Scottish carved stone balls

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I have written a blog for Cambridge University Press about Scottish carved stone balls. Just click on the image and it will take you to their site.

Holding these extraordinary objects was one of the great moments of my life. So here’s a photo of me with my pure-joy expression.

IMG_2638-balls-me-1000Photo: Damian Kelly, taken at the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow.

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Cambridge University Press – media release

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3 July 2015 – Melbourne: Dr Lynne Kelly will launch Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies at the Co-op Bookshop, La Trobe University Melbourne Campus on Friday 3rd July, 2015 at 12pm.

Why did the Neolithic Britons build Stonehenge? Why were there so many other stone circles all over the UK and Ireland? In this exciting book, Dr Lynne Kelly offers a groundbreaking new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge and other stone circles in the UK, the great houses of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, and the mound-building site of Poverty Point in Louisiana, in a way which applies to many other sites around the world.

Kelly argues that what has been left out of the interpretation until now is the way practical information is memorised in cultures which have no contact with writing. Drawing on methods used by Australian Aboriginal, Native American, African and Pacific cultures, the purpose of mysterious sites built by small tribes in the early stages of settlement all over the world suddenly make sense.

Identifying the memory technologies used, Kelly recognises the importance of memory spaces in prehistory in the form of performance sites, monuments and handheld devices. This book explains the complex memory methods and physical memory aids used by oral cultures who were totally dependent on their memories to store all the practical information on which their survival depended.

Primary oral cultures developed an extraordinary range of mnemonic technologies to store vast amounts of practical information and until now, the role of memory and formal knowledge systems has been underrepresented in the interpretation of enigmatic archaeological sites and objects.

Author

Lynne Kelly, La Trobe University, Victoria

Lynne Kelly is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Arts, Communication and Critical Enquiry at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She is the author of ten books on education, one novel and three popular science titles. Kelly is interested in the question of how non-literate cultures memorise so much about their environment in the absence of writing, which has led her to research the mnemonic technologies of oral cultures.

To arrange an interview with the author or request a review copy, please contact Ebony Henry at Cambridge University Press on (03) 8671 1442 or ehenry@cambridge.edu.au

 

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The launch is finally coming

Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies will be launched next Friday, 3 July at LaTrobe University Bookshop at 12 midday. Plenty of refreshments!

I would love to see friends, family, colleagues and anyone interested in prehistory, indigenous memory systems, Stonehenge, Chaco Canyon, archaeology … maybe just all of you!

Just click to see the invitation.

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Speaking engagements – Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies

I have been asked where people can hear me talk about indigenous memory systems and my theories about prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge. Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies has only just been published by Cambridge University Press in the US and UK and is still a month or so away from being published here in Australia.

Saturday / Sunday 22-24 May 2015: Archaeology of Portable Objects SymposiumPrimary Orality and Portable Objects. Australian National University, Canberra.  An academic conference – already been and enjoyed immensely.

Friday 12 June 2015: Castlemaine Fields NaturalistsIndigenous knowledge of plants and animals: how do they remember so much stuff without a field guide?  Castlemaine Fields Nats. Write up on the presentation on the Connecting Country website. 7.30 pm.

Friday 3 July 2015: Launch, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, LaTrobe University Bookroom, Bundoora. 12 midday.

Saturday 8 August  2015: Bendigo Writers Festival, Author, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies. Bendigo. Website: Bendigo Writers Festival.

Saturday, 15 August, Riddells Creek Landcare AGMHow did Aboriginal Australians manage their knowledge of plants and animals critical to their survival? What does this tell us about ancient monuments like Stonehenge?, Dromkeen, 1012 Gisborne-Kilmore Rd, Riddells Creek Vic, 3 pm.

Thursday, 10 September 2015: Castlemaine LibraryKnowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, 6 pm.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015: Kyneton FreethinkersKnowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, Albion Hotel meeting room, Kyneton.  7.30 pm.

Sunday, 20 September 2015: Newstead Science MattersWhy did the Neolithic Brits build Stonehenge? Newstead Community Centre. Details to follow.

Thursday, 8 October 2015: Kororoit Institute/Melbourne Emergence Special Public Meetup, University of Melbourne, The emergence of formal knowledge management systems in prehistory, more details to follow.

Friday – Sunday, 16-18 October 2015: Australian Skeptics National Convention, Memory spaces: adding rational intellect to Stonehenge, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Convention website and program is here.

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Castlemaine Fields Naturalists and Stonehenge

I am really looking forward to talking to the Castlemaine Fields Nats on the topic:
Indigenous knowledge of plants and animals: how do they remember so much stuff without a field guide? and how this led me to a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge.

The wonderful Connecting Country organisation gives details of the talk on their site. Just click on the image to get there.

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The advance copies arrive

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The wonderful moment when I first hold the book which represents years of obsessive pleasure.

Thank you to LaTrobe University, my PhD supervisor Professor Sue Martin, Cambridge University Press, family, friends and most of all, my husband, Damian. All that work to get the PhD was so very worth it.

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Launch – Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies

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The launch date of my book has been set. Exciting times ahead. Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture will be launched:

On: Friday 3 July, 2015, 12 midday.

At: LaTrobe University Co-op Bookshop

By: Professor Susan K Martin, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce (who was also my supervisor)

Published by: Cambridge University Press. More details on their site: here.

I would love to see family, friends and colleagues there.

 

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Primary orality and portable objects

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I am presenting a paper, Primary orality and portable objects, at the Archaeology of Portable Art conference at the Australian National University in Canberra, 23rd – 24th May 2015. The program looks fantastic – Click on the above image or here.

I’ll be talking about Australian and Pacific indigenous portable art which is known to act as memory aids. I’ll then be showing that the same topologies can be found in the British Neolithic. In particular, I’ll be comparing the form and contexts of Scottish carved stone balls and the Stonehenge chalk plaques and arguing that they, too, were mnemonic devices.

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Scottish carved stone balls: six knobbed, many knobbed and the famous Towie ball

From my book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: (c) Damian Kelly

The abstract of my paper:

The body of research on primary orality describes the way non-literate cultures manage to memorise vast stores of information when they have no recourse to writing. This research has rarely been applied in archaeological interpretation of ceremonial sites created by non-literate cultures. My research has expanded the field of primary orality to include material artefacts including decorated portable objects.

This paper will generalise the way portable objects from Australian and Pacific contexts have been used as mnemonic devices to encode pragmatic information including animal classifications and behaviour, plant properties, navigation, genealogies and astronomy along with resource rights and management. It will then address the way in which this understanding can be applied in the archaeological interpretation of prehistoric sites.

Recognition of the importance of indigenous art in oral knowledge systems is well known within archaeologies that are informed by indigenous input. However, the invaluable ethnographic analogies on offer have not been exploited in archaeological interpretation of British and Irish Neolithic sites.

In particular, this paper will take the generalisations from an ethnographic analysis of portable art to offer new insights into portable objects such as the enigmatic Stonehenge chalk plaques and Scottish carved stone balls.

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