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Ancient Wonders

by
July 1999, no. 212

The Riches of Ancient Australia: An indispensable guide for exploring prehistoric Australia by Josephine Flood

University of Queensland Press, $39.95 pb, 382 pp

Ancient Wonders

by
July 1999, no. 212

Last year I took my twelve-year-old daughter to see Lake Mungo. We talked all morning about ancient lakes and Aboriginal camp sites but looking at the saltbush she could not make the jump. Standing on the lunette, her keen eyes picked out a tiny crenulated piece of bone amongst the drift sand. Less than ten millimetres long it was a fish otolith, part of the bony structure of the inner ear, its shape characteristic of golden perch. Puzzled she looked around at the dry plain and started to ask, ‘How did a fish get way out here?’. Watching her eyes, I saw the flash of understanding: an ancient lake full of water snapped into focus. The tiny otolith was tangible evidence of past environments no book could match. But to grasp the past imaginatively and intellectually you need to visit the sites and learn to read the landscapes. This is part of the reason I like the latest edition of The Riches of Ancient Australia, Josephine Flood’s field guide to prehistoric Australia. It encourages people to get out and look around.

Mike Smith reviews 'The Riches of Ancient Australia: An indispensable guide for exploring prehistoric Australia' by Josephine Flood

The Riches of Ancient Australia: An indispensable guide for exploring prehistoric Australia

by Josephine Flood

University of Queensland Press, $39.95 pb, 382 pp

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