Welcome to the Australian Message Stick Database

Message sticks are carved graphic devices from Indigenous Australia, used to facilitate long-distance communication. This database is a digital repository of 1024 message sticks and associated metadata located in museums across the world. It also stores photographs and sketches of messages that are no longer extant. The database is searchable via 30 fields, including linguistic area, semantic domain, motifs and source. The full dataset will be migrated to this location soon. In the meantime, please find the access instructions for the beta version below. Note that log-in credentials will only be provided to scholars, Indigenous people and museum staff, until all permissions are finalised.


Artefacts 1024
Linguistic areas 54
Motifs 37

The Australian Message Stick Database contains data licensed under various conditions depending on agreements with museums (see individual records for details). No restricted or sacred items are included. It has been developed by The Mint Research Group at The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

How to access the Australian Message Sticks Database

The beta version can be accessed from https://cdhrsys.anu.edu.au/occams_v1c/index.php.
Please contact Piers Kelly (kelly [AT] shh.mpg.de) for log-in credentials or for a zipped copy of the database.

How to cite:

Kelly, Piers (ed.). 2018. The Australian Message Stick Database (beta version)