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3 December 2016

A hoary chestnut has reared its head once again – see http://phys.org/print399808185.html … the Aborigines are blamed when scientists come across evidence of landscape fire in the Holocene and Late Pleistocene. This is thought to represent evidence of Aborigines managing their environment, burning off unwelcome vegetation and allowing plants they favour to flourish in a non-forest environment. This explanation has some substance as Aborigines are known to light small scale fires to burn off brush and scrub and their efforts have favoured the browsing of kangaroos and wallabies above that of other wildlife. The problem with mainstream is that any evidence of landscape fires is assumed to be due to Aboriginal activity – even when it coincides with climate change or any other switch in the natural environment. The possibility that landscape fires have a connection with the Rainbow Serpent, or fire from the sky, is simply not on the mainstream radar. Much simple to blame the poor old Aborigines. 

What this reveals of course is bias – and propagandisation of the past. Now we have prehistoric landscape fires in Europe coming under the same kind of moralising bombardment. Ice Age hunting communities are being blamed – (after all, they did not enjoy the enlightenment of modern education techniques and just blundered around with a box of matches). How can you tell if a landscape fire was set alight on purpose (for whatever reason) or whether it had an origin in the natural world (lightning, meteors, an electric storm)? How can a purely investigative researcher reach a decision that Ice Age hunting communities were to blame when little is actually known of their practises? 

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