The Memory Code Editions
Australia and New Zealand. 2016, paperback and e-book. Publisher: Allen & Unwin.
Australia and New Zealand. 2016, audio. Publisher: Audible.
North America. February 2017, hardback. Publisher: Pegasus Books
UK and Europe. February 2017, hardback. Publisher: Atlantic Books.
Taiwan and Macau. 2018. Publisher: Good Publishing Co.
Czechoslovakia. 2018. Publisher: Anag.
The Allen & Unwin description:
The traditional Aboriginal memory technique that unlocks the secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and ancient monuments the world over.
Lynne Kelly has discovered that a powerful memory technique used by the ancients can unlock the secrets of the Neolithic stone circles of Britain and Europe, the ancient Pueblo buildings in New Mexico and other prehistoric stone monuments across the world. We can still use the memory code today to train our own memories.
In the past, the elders had encyclopaedic memories. They could name all the animals and plants across the landscape, and the stars in the sky too. Yet most of us struggle to memorise more than a short poem.
Using traditional Aboriginal Australian songlines as the key, Lynne Kelly has identified the powerful memory technique used by indigenous people around the world. She has discovered that this ancient memory technique is the secret behind the great stone monuments like Stonehenge, which have for so long puzzled archaeologists.
The stone circles across Britain and northern Europe, the elaborate stone houses of New Mexico, the huge animal shapes at Nasca in Peru, and the statues of Easter Island all serve as the most effective memory system ever invented by humans. They allowed people in non-literate cultures to memorise the vast amounts of practical information they needed to survive.
In her fascinating book The Memory Code, Lynne Kelly shows us how we can use this ancient technique to train our memories today.
THE MEMORY CODE – TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 – Encyclopaedic memories of the elders
Chapter 2 – Memory spaces, large and small
Chapter 3 – Memory spaces in a modern world
Chapter 4 – A journey through time
Chapter 5 – The ever-changing memory spaces at Stonehenge
Chapter 6 – The megalithic complexes of Avebury and Orkney
Chapter 7 – Newgrange and the passage cairns of Ireland
Chapter 8 – The tall stones and endless rows of Carnac
Chapter 9 – The unparalleled architecture of Chaco Canyon
Chapter 10 Giant drawings on the desert floor at Nasca
Chapter 11 Memory spaces across the Americas
Chapter 12 Polynesian navigators create a unique world on Easter Island
Praise for The Memory Code:
As we rediscover the extraordinary endurance of the oral memories of people who do not depend on writing, and as we begin to rediscover that many of those memories include knowledge of distant times, Lynne Kelly has explored how vast, non-written memory systems can work. She explores the notion that memories were or are encoded in spaces that can be marked by natural or build elements and applies that exploration to some of the remarkable physical monuments of the last ten thousand years. She takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the past and around the world and into the minds of people who would not need to publish a book like this. They already knew it. An engaging and exciting read.
Iain Davidson, Emeritus Professor, University of New England
Dr Kelly has developed an intriguing and highly original account of the purpose of Stonehenge, Avebury and other stone monuments. The depth and breath of her research, and experimental experience she has brought to study, command respect and invite serious attention.
Dr Rosamund Cleal, Museum Curator, Alexander Keillor Museum, Avebury, and co-author of Stonehenge in its Landscape
An astonishing journey into the memory of the world.
Associate Professor Grace Karskens are, University of NSW, Author of The Colony
In this insightful book, Kelly takes us on a tour of major archaeological sites and gives us fresh eyes to see how non-literate societies use the landscape, monuments, buildings, spatial arrangements, artefacts, and even sounds as ”memory spaces” to encode and transmit detailed information.
William Lipe, Professor Emeritus, Washington State University
Dr Lynne Kelly provides an elegant, rational and compelling thesis on memory as a pre-historic survival tool.
Dominic O’Brien, eight times World Memory Champion
Kelly’s The Memory Code is a fascinating and mesmerizing journey through ancient history, discussing ancient memory techniques and how many of the world’s most famous wonders are actually memory structures. I found it difficult to put down and completely revelating!
Nelson Dellis, four times US Memory Champion
Lynne Kelly takes us on a journey to famous archaeological sites around the world, from Stonehenge to Easter Island, to reveal her groundbreaking ideas about how ancient oral cultures encoded knowledge in stone monuments and sacred spaces.
Dr Duane W. Hamacher, Senior DECRA Fellow in Indigenous Astronomy, Monash Indigenous Centre
Lynne Kelly has struck upon a unique approach by which to evaluate the transmission of complex information in non-literate societies and cultures around the world. The Memory Code is a landmark treatise.
Larry Baker, archaeologist and Executive Director, Salmon Ruins, New Mexico
Lynne Kelly’s remarkable insight into how ancient peoples retain their vast repositories of knowledge by encoding information in the very world around them is matched by her infectious enthusiasm for the subject and a gift for storytelling.
Dr Tim Dean, Science and Technology Editor at The Conversation
This is a timeless masterpiece in ancient remedies; it is a must-read for anyone interested in information technologies, ancient or modern.
Associate Professor Sarena Chen, Department of Communication Studies, University of Northern Iowa
Jim Rountree review
There have been lots of articles about The Memory Code. Lots of interviews and lots of talks. I was reflecting back on the past eighteen months as I head into the final stages of preparing the manuscript for the next book. There is one article which I keep returning to because it is from a magazine I hugely respect and a writer who got it so right, and wrote about it so well. Jim Rountree writes for Australia’s leading science magazine, Cosmos. Click on the images and you will get the full article. I have copied the start of the article below. It was originally published just over a year ago.
It is a real buzz as an author to have someone understand your ideas so well.
“Most of us know a place where sculpted rocks, majestic trees or perhaps the light give us a feeling the place is special. We sense something mysterious and wonderful – beyond the normality of everyday life.
Now, imagine you are young and visiting such a place. It is in the land of your people, a clan of hunter-gatherers. Your parents tell you the story of the place. You can see the marks left as mythical ancestors fought and played, acting out momentous, tragic events.
You will never forget this story, and you will never forget the place. They are locked together in your mind.
But the story doesn’t stop there. The ancestors roamed clan territory, leaving traces at every point. It’s easy to remember their bizarre, dramatic acts, which become inseparable from the marks they left behind on the landscape. Story and land merge in a mental map that means you always know where you are and what lies in every direction.
Now you are older and ready to be initiated. Back at the special place you learn there is more to the story. The ancestor turned into a millipede leaving those marks – one for each verse of a song you must now learn; many generations old, it holds vital information you can’t afford to get wrong.
Time passes – you are an elder. You know a thousand songs, chants, stories and dances. They tell about the animals – their life cycles, how they feed and breed, how to hunt them and the rules for dividing the kill. You know which plants you can eat and how to prepare them. The songs tell you the clues, on land and in the night sky, of the passing seasons, so you know when to move as game becomes abundant or plants fruit. The songs tell you the laws of your people and the gods and spirits you must appease. They contain your people’s history and relations with neighbouring groups.
As an elder you have authority, with others, to create new stories for events worthy of memory.
With so much to remember you have songs to list and a ceremonial cycle mapped to each of the locations you visit, so you can be certain that every story is regularly rehearsed.
Spread through your mind and the minds of others in your group is the total knowledge of your people. It is a repository of incredible detail, containing information of practical importance as well as the beliefs that define your understanding of the universe and your place within it. Without a written language, you must keep it ever alive and pass it on completely and accurately. So of course, you use the method by which it came to you, in interwoven branches of story and song that emanate from the landscape myths you learnt as a child. The whole of your country serves as a gigantic mnemonic device for this knowledge.
The trick of using stories tied to features in a location as a memory aid is no secret. Modern speed-memory competitors use the technique, linking each card in a deck to locations within a familiar place pictured in the mind’s eye – a so-called memory palace, a mnemonic device first used in ancient Greece and Rome.
Ethnologists have known for some time how preliterate societies told stories linked to their environments. We can see the method in oral cultures of Native Americans, Africans, Polynesians and Australian Aborigines.
Once all peoples must have used systems of this kind. In the Western tradition, for example, the Iliad was recited from memory.
In her latest book, The Memory Code, Australian science writer and La Trobe University oral history researcher Lynne Kelly stresses the effectiveness of the method to accurately remember and transmit vast amounts of knowledge. This sets the ground for her main thesis: that numerous prehistoric sites around the world had a primary function as memory aids, serving as knowledge centres for peoples transitioning from hunter-gatherer to settled agricultural lifestyles. Her list includes henges, cairns and standing stones in Western Europe, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, Neolithic temple complexes in Malta, Pueblo “great houses” in the southwestern United States and the giant, geometric animals cut into the Nazca Plain in Peru.
The basic idea is simple.” And the rest is on the Cosmos Website.
Thank you Jim Rountree for taking the time to really understand what I am on about. And thank you Cosmos for being the great magazine that you are.