Monday, January 26, 2015

Aboriginal storytelling accurate to 10,000 years

Australian aboriginals seem to be fairly accurate in oral storytelling, referencing islands -- by name and location -- that are now underwater. Story here at Scientific American.

This isn't the first recent reference to accurate storytelling that spans 10k+ years. The other one involved the hobbits. Officially called Floresiensis, these small people were a side branch of humans who lived in the mountains of Indonesia. The last ones died out around 13000 years ago, according to archaeological finds and carbon dating, etc. Today, locals mention "the little people who live in the mountains."

It's mind boggling that stories told person to person for more than 10k years have any level of accuracy. It makes me wonder how much is accurate in other stories and folklore. Some, like the Kalevala, are thought to have originated before the last ice age. I'm particularly interested in folkloric tradition of elves. These were thought to have existed, at least by some people, from prehistoric times right through the Middle Ages. The BBC has done some recent stories about Icelanders still believing (a few people, anyway, seem to believe). An example of the strength of the ancient belief in elves can be seen in the name of England's first king, Alfred. Alf meant "elf" and "raed" meant councilor. If one was a councilor to elves, he was a VIP.

Makes me wonder if all the oral tales about elves (written down much later, and later still inspired Tolkien) are actually based on real creatures.

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