The food of the Tasmanian Aborigines

Noetling, Fritz 1910 , 'The food of the Tasmanian Aborigines' , Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 279-305 .

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In a previous paper* I made a short calculation as
to the quantity of shells that would collect on the refuse
heaps within a given time, supposing each person consumed
50 oysters or haliotis per day. The quantity, 36
million shells per year for a population of not more than
2,000 souls, is startling; but subsequently I had my
doubts whether such a small quantity, though yielding
an enormous number of shells, contained sufficient
nourishment to be of material use in sustaining life.
Ling Roth in his classical book on the Aborigines of
Tasmania devotes an interesting chapter to the subject of
food. His account is based on the evidence of numerous
eye witnesses, and it must therefore be considered as a
reliable source of information. It is certainly more explicit
and accurate than Dr. Campbell's account.
One source of information with regard to the diet of
the Aborigines has not been considered yet, viz., the
vocabulary. It is a priori very probable that the vocabulary
will contain the names of those substances of either
animalic or vegetabilic origin that formed the staple
articles of their food. Though it is pretty certain that
those animals and plants with which they came in frequent
contact, either in a friendly or hostile way, were
also distinguished by special names, we may safely
assume that chiefly those that were valuable as foodstuffs
were specially named.
*A peculiar group of tronattas, Pap. and Proceed. Royal
Soc. of Tasmania, 1909. See also Noetling Studies ueber die
Technik der tasmanischen tronatta, Archiv. f., Anthropologic
Neue Folge Bd. viii., heft 3, 1909, pag. 197.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Noetling, Fritz
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

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