There is evidence of complex social behaviours including cremation before 40,000 years ago, personal ornamentation by 30,000 years ago and long-distance trade in objects before 10,000 years ago. Some archaeologist have suggested that Aboriginal cultures have one of the longest deep-time chronologies of any groups on Earth.
Aboriginal people traditionally lived by hunting and gathering and were seasonally mobile, but movements were very gradual due to each tribe’s attachment to local sites of ritual importance. There may have been as many as 500 territory-linked groups. Their members shared cultural characteristics and interacted with one another more than with members of other groups.
* Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Through dreams and other states of altered consciousness, the living could come into contact with the spiritual realm and gain strength from it. Various features of the landscape provided proof of the reality and world-creating powers of the Dreaming beings, and a complex system of myths, dances, rituals and objects bound the human, spiritual, and physical realms together into a single cosmic order.
Despite the uncertainties involved in getting a living throughout their long history, Aboriginal people have a strong sense of self and a spiritual confidence in their ability to cope with the physical and social world around them.
Map of Indigenous Australia
This map attempts to represent the language, social or nation groups of Aboriginal Australia. It shows only the general locations of larger groupings of people which may include clans, dialects or individual languages in a group. It used published resources from 1988-1994 and is not intended to be exact, nor the boundaries fixed. It is not suitable for native title or other land claims. David R Horton (creator), © Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, 1996. No reproduction without permission. To purchase a print version visit: www.aiatsis.gov.au
View full scale map here. This view is not suitable for smartphones or tablets.