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The time of darkness : local legends and volcanic reality in Papua New Guinea

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: The time of darkness : local legends and volcanic reality in Papua New Guinea
Author(s): Blong, R. J.
Date published: 1982
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
In the highlands of Papua New Guinea there exist widespread legends concerning a 'Time of Darkness' in which there was no light and ash fell from the skies. The author investigates these legends and, in conjunction with measurement and analysis of the ash, which covers a large area of the highlands, determines that 300 years ago there was a cataclysmic volcanic eruption on Long Island and that the legends are essentially accurate accounts of this gigantic upheaval that is unrecorded in any written records. There are several unique elements in this book. First, a relatively recent volcanic eruption of very large magnitude is identified. Second this event is shown to have initiated a widespread legend varying from place to place only in detail, and spreading across a number of cultural groups. Third the accuracy of the legends is demonstrated by comparison with known volcanic eruptions. The study shows that legends from an area of almost 100,000 km2 and including more than thirty language groups have survived as essentially accurate accounts for about 300 years. This book will have particular appeal to volcanologists and oral historians and a general appeal to readers with an interest in natural hazards.


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