Australia's Newfound Historical Treasure: “Message Sticks”
By: Eleanor Liang
These engraved artifacts hold a memory of the world’s longest-lived civilization, but few understand the engraved stick’s meaning.
The continent of Australia is home to more than 250 spoken Indigenous languages and 800 dialects. However, who would expect that one of Australia’s longest-lived civilizations would have a communication system made out of symbols?
These flat, long sticks were etched with symbols and pictures, just like Cuneiform and Hieroglyphics (picture writing) conveyed significant facts and important news for the Aboriginal people, an ancient civilization. “Message sticks are believed to be thousands of years old and were typically carried by messengers over long distances to reinforce oral histories or deliver news between Aboriginal nations or language groups,” the BBC Travel News explained.
These imprints were meaningful for historians because they carried news of peace, war, and marriage and could help decode the past of Australia.
This new discovery was precious since it could give historians hints of the past, so the message sticks are kept in a glass display in safe places like the Australian Museum in Sydney.
According to linguistic anthropologist Piers Kelly and the BBC News, "Little in the way of significant new research on message sticks was published in the 20th Century."
Although the sticks are right in front of us, waiting to be unraveled, few can decrypt them.
That’s why we need to enlist some intellectuals and Indigenous elders who might help us decipher the mysterious code.
“Without their help, future generations may lose a link to this valuable relic of their roots,” BBC News concluded.
Taking a look at the peculiar code, we stare at it blankly, not knowing its true meaning. But with your help, the next generation might grasp the incredible engraving in their hands.
Who knows what the mystifying pictures will mean?