Thank you for your post. It gives me a new line of enquiry to investigate and I think it dovetails in with how I got started. I make no claim to be archeologist or astronomer but the following quotes from Lynne Kelly’s book The Memory Code really got me thinking about a possibility that a tradition of orality existed in parallel to written knowledge systems.
Unfortunately I don’t have page numbers for these quotes as I bought a kindle version of the book:
Lyne Kelly, The Memory Code
“The Yolngu in northern Australia used the appearance of Scorpius to indicate that their trading partners from Indonesia, the Macassans, would soon arrive. They were also well aware of the relationship between the phases of the moon and the tides, which were so much a part of their life on the sea border. The heavens do far more than provide a reliable synchronisation device. Australian language groups name a huge number of stars, including many small and seemingly insignificant ones. By relating stories to the star patterns, a feedback loop is in effect. The stories aid memory of the sky patterns while the stars aid memory of the stories and their encoded content.”
“The towosi constantly studied the state of each garden and the weather, after which he made decisions on when to perform the rites that enabled the next stage of gardening to proceed. Yet the literature on the Trobriands uses the term ‘magician’ liberally, which to Western readers implies that his role was based on superstition, not studied understanding of the natural sciences. Timekeeping was a complex affair.”
“The ‘men of memory’ could recite the Luba Epic as well as genealogies and king lists; migration stories; royal political practices and etiquette; techniques for hunting, smelting, blacksmithing and other critical technologies; knowledge of the movement of the sun, moon and certain stars; cultural heroes and social protocols; behavioural expectations; deities and ancestral spirits—all encoded into performances linked to the lukasa.”
“This brings us to the problematic term ‘art’. In the Western context, the primary measure of art is aesthetic. In non-literate contexts, the primary motivation is didactic.”
“Astronomy is a critical science for all peoples. Western cultures store that information in books; indigenous cultures encode it in mythology.”