My Memory Systems Research

My research for the last decade has been about memory systems in all their wonderful formats. Most impressive are the systems used by Indigenous cultures dependent on their memories for all they know. We have so much to learn about First Nations cultures and even more to learn from them.

An Australian Aboriginal Elder, for example, may know details of hundreds of animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. at least as many plants, complex genealogies, navigation of hundreds of kilometres, land management, astronomy, history, laws, ethics and expectations, geology … the list goes on an on. And it’s all stored in memory!

My research question became: how the hell do they remember so much stuff? That became the basis of my PhD, and subsequent books, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies and The Memory Code.

I explored memory devices from Africa, North and South America’s First Nations cultures and Pacific cultures. I then added in research on memory systems from Classical Greek and Roman times, Medieval Europe and so many wonderful examples from Asia. I wrote about all these in Memory Craft.

Fundamental to my understanding is Australian Aboriginal songlines, the topic of my most recent book, Songlines: the power and promise, written with Aboriginal co-author, Margo Neale.

The submenus beneath the Memory Systems item on the main menu gives many examples of my research into memory systems and devices. I will be experimenting with these for the rest of my life!

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