Transmission's end? Cataclysm and chronology in indigenous oral tradition

Chris Ballard*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Debate around the value of oral traditions for the reconstruction of deep history has generated two opposed camps of thought: optimistic claims by enthusiastic geomythologists for the recall of events thousands of years in the past, and their rejection by sceptical historians, characterised by David Heniges maximum limit of about 150 years for the accurate oral transmission of memories of events. Volcanic eruptions, as discrete events that can be dated scientifically but that also feature widely in oral traditions, provide a particularly useful field for consideration of this debate. A pair of case studies from the Pacific, both relating to volcanic eruptions, provide access to some of the mechanisms that enable long-term transmission by societies with profoundly different historicities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Global Indigenous History
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages32
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315181929
    ISBN (Print)9781138743106
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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