Ancient cultures, new ideas about memory

A  book based on intriguing discoveries about Aboriginal songlines by La Trobe doctoral researcher Lynne Kelly, was launched today by publishers Allen and Unwin.

Titled The Memory Code, Dr Kelly’s book also unlocks the secrets of the world’s most mysterious ancient monuments, including as Stonehenge and the statues of Easter Island.
During almost a decade of research, Dr Kelly immersed herself in memory techniques used by ancient cultures across the globe – and discovered that we can still use this memory code to train our brains today.
‘When making such an enormous claim as a new way of looking at oral tradition and memory, and a new theory for ancient sites including Stonehenge, it was essential to have my work thoroughly reviewed by experts – hence the long path to this moment,’ she said.

Widespread interest

The book has sparked much media and community interest ahead of its release, with a long list of forthcoming speaking engagements for the author.
Dr Kelly said in the past, the elders had encyclopaedic memories.
‘They could name all the animals and plants in 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, Dr Kelly identified powerful memory technique used by Indigenous people around the world.
She also discovered that this ancient memory technique is the secret behind the great stone monuments like Stonehenge, which have for so long puzzled archaeologists.

Monuments to memory

‘The stone circles across Britain and northern Europe, the elaborate stone houses of New Mexico, 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,’ Dr Kelly said.
‘They allowed people in non-literate cultures to memorise the vast amounts of practical information they needed to survive.
* Dr Kelly is a science writer and continues her work as an Honorary Associate at La Trobe University. She is the author of sixteen books, including popular science books The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal, and Crocodile and Spiders.

Dr Kelly talks about The Memory Code on ABC Radio National Life Matters and on Conversations with Richard Fidler.

See also: Stonehenge - prehistory's Wikipedia?