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Aboriginal Memories Of Inundation Of The Australian Coast Dating From More Than 7000 Years Ago

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Stories belonging to Australian Aboriginal groups tell of a time when the former coastline of mainland Australia was inundated by rising sea level.

Stories are presented from 21 locations from every part
of this coastline. In most instances it is plausible to assume that these stories refer to events that occurred more than about 7000 years ago, the approximate time at which the sea level reached its present level around Australia. They therefore provide empirical corroboration of postglacial sea-level rise.

For each of the 21locations, the minimum water depth (below the present sea level) needed for the details of the particular group of local-area stories to be true is calculated. This is then compared with the sea-level envelope for Australia (Lewis et al., Quaternary Science Reviews 74,
2013), and maximum and minimum ages for the most recent time that these details could have been observed are calculated. This method of dating Aboriginal stories shows that they appear to have endured since 7250–13 070 cal years BP (5300–11 120 BC ).

The implications of this extraordinary longevity of oral traditions are discussed, including those aspects of Aboriginal culture that ensured effective trans-generational communication and the possibility that traditions of comparable antiquity may exist in similar cultures.

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