The potential for misunderstanding in this first encounter was limitless. —A History of the World in 100 Objects podcast, Episode 89
I sometimes listen to the A History of the World in 100 Objects podcast from the British Museum (via the BBC, highly recommended) while cooking. In yet another incidence of reading/learning synchronicity, the episode I listened to today dealt with Captain Cook’s arrival in what we call Botany Bay, Australia. The object in question was a wooden shield dropped by an aboriginal fighter after he realized that mangrove bark was no match for musket shot. The fact that the aboriginals tried to stop the Europeans from landing shows that there was no misunderstanding on their part—they knew perfectly well that those people were bad news! Alas, they did not have the technology to fight them off, and the rest is not just history but also present and future. It remains to be seen how it will all turn out. 250 years out of 60,000 may turn out to be just a blip.