Indigenous memory and Stonehenge

  • Start Date: February 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm
  • End Date: February 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm
  • Location: A01/A02 Highfield House, University Park
  • Ticket Price: 0.00

The Centre for Advanced Studies will be hosting Dr Lynne Kelly, Latrobe University, for a workshop followed by a lecture on Indigenous memory and Stonehenge.


In this workshop, Dr Lynne Kelly will teach participants memory methods drawn from indigenous cultures and applicable in today’s learning. Known from ancient Greek times, the ‘method of loci’ is considered the most effective memory method ever devised. Dr Kelly’s research shows that indigenous cultures use a complex form of this method along with a vast array of memory devices. We will use large physical spaces along with portable mnemonic objects and encode them with practical contemporary information. These methods can be adapted to any field of study.

Audience: PG students and supervisors primarily in Arts, Social Sciences and Psychology.

Book your free workshop place.


Without writing, indigenous elders memorised a vast amount of factual information on which survival depended both physically and culturally: knowledge of thousands of animals and plants, astronomical charts, vast navigation networks, genealogies, geography and geology … the list goes on and on. How did they remember so much? And why does this explain the purpose of ancient monuments including Stonehenge, Easter Island and the Nasca Lines? Can we use these memory methods in contemporary life?

This lecture will focus on the transmission of scientific and practical knowledge among small-scale oral cultures across the world, drawing on Australian Aboriginal, Native American, African and Pacific cultures. Dr Kelly will explain the exact mechanisms used and why this explains the purpose of many enigmatic monuments around the world. We have a great deal to learn from the extraordinary mnemonic skills of indigenous cultures.

Register online for free lecture.

Speaker biography

Dr Lynne Kelly is a science writer and Honorary Research Associate at Latrobe University, Australia. Her most recent books are Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture (Cambridge University Press) and The Memory Code (Atlantic Books).

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