By: Jessica Jin
Around the 1800s, the first Australian message sticks were found. These sticks were used thousands of years ago by Aboriginal tribes as a way to spread messages.
Australian message sticks are images that are inscribed or painted on narrow, flat pieces of wood.
Most of these ancient inscriptions are safely shown in glass boxes in The Australian Museum in Sydney. There, modern people can see what their ancestors used for communication in the different tribes.
Messengers would carry the sticks to give to other tribes, to tell them major news. To keep peace, the message sticks acted like a passport for the messenger. They were allowed to safely pass through any tribe so there wasn’t any violence when delivering important information.
Archaeologists wondered why Aboriginal tribes used this pictographic system instead of coming up with a way to write. One potential reason is that the Aboriginal tribes spoke over 250 different languages. So possibly, the people decided to create symbols and images that any of the Aboriginal tribes could interpret or learn the deep meanings. A universal system of communication wouldn’t need to be translated to every spoken language.
Scientists are still trying to decode these message sticks, but they do know one thing. These sticks had meanings and helped the tribes communicate and understand each other.