Cambridge University Press – media release



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.


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


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Author: lynne

I am an Honorary Researcher at LaTrobe University. I am the author of 19 books, the most recent being 'Spiders: learning to love them' (Allen & Unwin), 'Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies' (Cambridge University Press, 'The Memory Code' (Allen & Unwin, AUS; Pegasus Books, US and Atlantic Books, UK), 'Memory Craft' (Allen & Unwin, AUS; Pegasus Books, US) [and foreign translations, audio versions and so on]. My latest book is co-authored by Margo Neale. 'Songlines: the power and promise' and published by Thames & Hudson with the National Museum of Australia.

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