Tag Archives: orality

Orality – why it is so important for prehistoric archaeologists

Primary orality is what you have when you don’t have literacy. It is often commented that prehistoric cultures didn’t leave a written record. What is almost never mentioned is that cultures which had no contact with writing did have an alternative. They had … Continue reading

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Primary orality – what is it?

‘Primary orality’ is all about the way societies communicate and store information when they have no contact whatsoever with writing. If they don’t have literacy, they do have orality. Orality is an information technology, a tool which increases the ability of humans to store … Continue reading

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Singing the knowledge – Yanyuwa kujika

A wonderful collaboration between the Yanyuwa people and Monash University is online and enables us to glimpse the singing tracks of their culture. The Yanyuwa live 0n the Gulf Carpentaria in Northern Australia. Animations of the songs can be seen at the … Continue reading

Posted in art of memory, Australian Aboriginal, kajika, Memory Spaces, method of loci, mnemonics, orality, primary orality, Yanuwa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding the Dowitcher – a comparison of memory aids

A small wading bird landed in a lake and started a twitch unlike any before in Australia. Social media went into overdrive, as bird watchers scrambled to travel for hours in the hope of a glimpse of the one long-billed dowitcher … Continue reading

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Uluru as a set of memory locations

I’ve talked about the method of loci – a set of locations in the landscape used as memory aids – the most effective memory aid known. I believe that the singing tracks of the Australian cultures, the sacred trails of the … Continue reading

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Art: from orality to literacy

Art has a vastly different purpose in non-literate cultures than it does in literate ones. Art in oral cultures is primarily a memory aid to the knowledge system while art in literate cultures is primarily aesthetic. A rash statement? I hope it’s … Continue reading

Posted in archaeology, indigenous memory systems, memory, Memory Spaces, mnemonics, orality, primary orality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Socrates on the risks of writing

  Every new invention has its critics. Socrates warned against the spread of writing and the subsequent loss of the ability to memorise. Plato’s Phaedrus, written in about 370 BC, takes the form of a dialogue between Socrates and Phaedrus, an Athenian … Continue reading

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