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Investigating Wiradjuri marara (carved trees or dendroglyphs) and dhabuganha (burials) in the Central Tablelands, southeastern Australia

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posted on 2024-02-27, 02:49 authored by Caroline SpryCaroline Spry, Brian ArmstrongBrian Armstrong, N Ingram, A Williams, J Williams, G Ingram, I Sutherland, Y Ngullubul Men’s Corporation, M Hines, T Potts, L Conyers
Marara (carved trees, dendroglyphs or tapholgyphs) are a distinct part of Wiradjuri Country in southeastern Australia. Each marara displays a unique muyalaang (tree carving) that a Wiradjuri person carved into the outer surface of a tree after removing bark. Marara mark the dhabuganha (burials) of Wiradjuri men of high standing, representing part of traditional cultural practices that extend into the deep past. Yet, the meaning of these sacred locations is not widely understood due to the lack of Wiradjuri teaching, knowledge and participation in previous studies. Here we present the first Wiradjuri-led archaeological study of marara, muyalaang and dhabuganha, completed in the Central Tablelands. We combine a review of previous studies with new information from interviews with Wiradjuri Elders and knowledge holders, Ground Penetrating Radar survey, and 3D modelling (photogrammetry)–guided by the Wiradjuri philosophy Yindyamarra (cultural respect). The results build new, culturally and scientifically informed understandings of practical and symbolic aspects of Wiradjuri culture, with marara and dhabuganha viewed not as individual objects or ‘sites’ but as connected parts of Wiradjuri Lore, beliefs, traditional cultural practices and Country. Consistent with Wiradjuri Elder requests, this paper is freely available and written in simple language for the Wiradjuri community and beyond.

Funding

This research is supported by the Central Tablelands Local Land Services [CT02000] and La Trobe University.

History

Publication Date

2023-09-12

Journal

Australian Archaeology

Volume

89

Issue

3

Pagination

18p. (p. 209-226)

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

ISSN

0312-2417

Rights Statement

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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