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Message Sticks Show Us the Past of Australia with their Marks

By: Boya Hu

On August 13th, 2023, scientists discovered new realizations about message sticks in Australia, which were used for communicating thousands of years ago.

According to BBC, Australia is a home to 250 spoken Indigenous languages and 800 dialects, possibly even more! According to Piers Kelly, a linguistic anthropologist, “little in the way of significant new research on message sticks was published in the 20th Century.” Message sticks were flat, round, and oblong pieces. All of the sticks were etched with ornate pictures on both sides that were meant to represent the Aboriginal people’s stories.

Aboriginal people are known to be the world’s oldest living culture. The message sticks were sent by Aboriginal tribes to each other by messengers, over long distances. The motifs on each stick represented either news of war, death, peace marriage, or others, according to Ancient Origins. Most sticks were between 10cm and 30 cm. Some are still used now in some parts of Australia.

It has been observed that while messaging systems were more highly developed in some places, there were Aboriginal tribes that did not use message sticks at all, according to Ancient Origins. Message sticks have been used for communication for thousands of years across the vast Australian landscape.

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