Text Indigenous science: Australia had ancient trade routes too

TLF ID M013031

This is an article about the ancient overland trade routes of Aboriginal Australia. Written by Kudjala/Kalkadoon Elder from Queensland Letitia Murgha and intended mainly for teachers, it compares Aboriginal trading routes based on Dreaming pathways and songlines throughout Australia to the Silk Road and the spice trade of Asia and Europe. While the article deals with trade in ochre, baler shells, greenstone, stone axes and other goods, it points out that songs, dances and art, stories, rituals and ceremonies were also shared and exchanged. The article contains illustrations of red ochre, baler shells and a stone axe.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This article provides information useful for teachers in planning their implementation of the curriculum. It is relevant to several content descriptions across a range of year levels, including the history content description in the year 7 Investigating the ancient past depth study that refers to the nature of the sources for ancient Australia and what they reveal. Finds of baler shells in archaeological excavations, for example, have provided evidence of widespread travel and trade across the continent.
  • It may also be relevant to the year 2 geography content description about the reasons people visit places and to the year 4 history content description about the diversity of Australia's first peoples and the ways Aboriginal peoples are connected to Country (land, sea, waterways and skies) and the implications for their daily lives. Aboriginal people visited places to trade in tangible products and in intangible knowledge and cultural practices, travelling along ceremonial pathways through the countries of many different peoples.
  • The resource is especially valuable for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It provides a well-informed introduction to the ancient trade routes of Aboriginal people and makes the vital point that trade and ceremony went together, explaining that Dreaming pathways and songlines were also significant trading routes.
Year level

2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7

Learning area
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Geography
  • History

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Organization: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Publisher
  • Name: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Organization: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Unknown
Learning Resource Type
  • Text
  • Image
  • © The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum). This material may be used and reproduced free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes, provided all acknowledgements are retained.