Soon after Billy Griffiths joins his first archaeological dig as camp manager and cook, he is hooked. Equipped with a historian’s inquiring mind, he embarks on a journey through time, seeking to understand the extraordinary deep history of the Australian continent.
Deep Time Dreaming is the passionate product of that journey. In this original, important book, Griffiths investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the simultaneous uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia by pioneering archaeologists.
Deep Time Dreaming is about a slow shift in national consciousness. It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and identity. It brings to life the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many Australians relate to their continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.
‘When John Mulvaney began his fieldwork in January 1956, it was widely believed that the first Australians had arrived on this continent only a few thousand years earlier. In the decades since, Australian history has been pushed back into the dizzying expanse of deep time. The human presence here has been revealed to be more ancient than that of Europe, and the Australian landscape, far from being terra nullius, is now recognised to be cultural as much as natural, imprinted with stories and law and shaped by the hands and firesticks of thousands of generations of Indigenous men and women. The New World has become the Old...
Billy Griffiths is the author of The China Breakthrough and co-editor with Mike Smith of The Australian Archaeologist's Book of Quotations. He is a research fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.
'What a revelatory work! If you wish to hear the voice of our continent's history before the written word, Deep Time Dreaming is a must read. The freshest, most important book about our past in years.' - Tim Flannery'Billy Griffiths' Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia is a remarkable book, and one destined, I believe, to become a modern classic of Australian history writing. Written in vivid, evocative prose, this book will grip both the expert and the general reader alike. It tells a story of physical, political and cultural challenge and discovery, where fascinating individuals encounter and decipher awe-inspiring ancient places. Sensitive and scrupulous, the book does full justice to the achievements and concerns of the Indigenous peoples who shaped and inscribed this ancient land, portraying them as living agents rather than static objects of archaeological study. Respectful of the complexities and technical difficulties of archaeological practice, Billy nevertheless manages to convey its soaring excitements and epiphanies. Both ancient and modern Australia have here found a truly worthy historian.' - Iain McCalman'Deftly weaving together biography, history and literature, an immense variety of Australian landscapes and ecologies with the many and complex strands of archaeology, Griffiths brilliantly charts the history of modern Aboriginal archaeology in Australia. Deep Time Dreaming is beautifully written, utterly fluid, with the clarity and feeling of a writer who has mastered both his material and the analytical power of narrative. Rich and absorbing, at times spell-binding.' - Grace Karskens