Review Blog

Aug 11 2014

Ancient Australia unearthed by Alethea Kinsela

cover image

Plainspeak Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9780980594737.
'One October day in 1984, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra was advised by telephone, 'We have a first contact here.' Located in the Gibson Desert, nine Pintupi people had been picked up in a four-wheel-drive and taken to Kintore near Alice Springs. They had never see a non-indigenous person, let alone cars and towns. Wearing human hair belts and armed with spears and boomerangs the Pintupi Nine quietly stepped out of the desert and into modern society. They are believed to be the last people to have lived a traditional Ancient Australian lifestyle.'
This beautifully illustrated and factually verified book uses archaeology to track the lives of our indigenous peoples from those ancient times of 50 000 years ago to modern day society in a timeline format that makes it a perfect accompaniment to the Australian Curriculum history strand for Yr 6+. Begun when its English/History teacher author went to 'spruik the Young Archaeologists' Program to the Head of Humanities' and continuing to a blog Ask the Archaeologist , this book has evolved with the help of crowd-sourced funding to be a most important resource that fills a critical gap in both our collections and our knowledge.
Drawing on all the elements of format and layout that attract today's readers including photographs, maps, information in manageable chunks, it also actively encourages readers to investigate, to understand, to inquire and to create with explicit suggestions. For example, students are asked to consider whether the early journeys to Australia were accidental or deliberate; to investigate whether 'firestick farming' is in use today and to create a description and illustration of a first glimpse of a kangaroo. There is a broad range of task embracing all levels of Bloom's taxonomy that can kickstart the teachers' thinking as well as that of the students. It might even inspire an interest in archaeology.
Supported by its own website  and a  trailer  this book has a place both in the library's general collection and that of the history faculty.
Barbara Braxton

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