Amazing Discovery that Could Rewrite Australian History

Amazing Discovery that Could Rewrite Australian History


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According to the history books, the first person to discover Australia was Dutchman, Willem Janszoon, who landed in north Queensland in 1606 – more than 160 years before Captain Cook arrived and claimed the continent for Britain. However, the discovery of copper coins on Wessel Island, which originate from the former sultanate of Kilwa near Tanzania, and are dated as far back as the 900s, has the potential to rewrite Australian history.

In 1944, a solider was patrolling the strategically important Wessel Islands off the north coast of Australia when he stumbled upon five coins buried in the sand. Maurie Isenberg, who was manning a radar station on the uninhabited islands, stored the coins in a tin, and on coming across them again in 1979, sent them to a museum.

The coins had been gathering dust for more than two decades until Australian anthropologist, Ian McIntosh, came across them and immediately realised the importance of their discovery. The finding suggests that country may have been visited by explorers from East Africa or the Middle East, long before the Dutchman stepped foot on Australian soil in the 17 th Century.

The copper coins originating in Kilwa have only ever been found one other time outside the continent – in Oman in the early 20 th century. Now a World Heritage ruin, Kilwa was once a busy trade port and in the 13th to 16th centuries had links to India. Its trade in gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, stoneware, ceramics and porcelain made it one of the most influential towns in East Africa.

In July of this year, Dr McIntosh will lead a team to the Wessels comprising Australian and American historians, archaeologists, geomorphologists (scientists who study the shaping of landforms), as well as Aboriginal rangers, armed with a map on which Isenberg marked the spot where he found the coins. If further archaeological objects are found in the area it will provide further evidence that Australia was discovered much earlier than believed.


    New species of crested dinosaur identified in Mexico

    WASHINGTON — Fossils unearthed on a hillside in northwestern China are forcing scientists to rethink the history of a dinosaur lineage that produced the largest animals ever to walk the planet.

    Scientists on Tuesday announced the discovery of Lingwulong shenqi, an early member of the well-known group of plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods with long necks, long tails, small heads and pillar-like legs. Lingwulong lived 174 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.

    Its name means “amazing dragon from Lingwu,” the closest city to the site where a farmer spotted the fossils while herding sheep.

    The scientists excavated bones from at least eight to 10 Lingwulong individuals, the largest of which was about 57 feet long, said paleontologist Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

    Lingwulong represents the earliest-known advanced member of the sauropod lineage, as defined by anatomical traits that distinguish them from primitive sauropods that first appeared tens of millions of years earlier.

    Two technicians measuring a large shoulder bone of Lingwulong shenqi in China. Reuters

    The discovery pushes back by 15 million years the appearance of advanced sauropods, a lineage that later would include Jurassic giants like Diplodocus and Brontosaurus as well as Cretaceous Period behemoths like Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Patagotitan that were the largest land animals on record.

    “Previously, we thought all of these advanced sauropods originated around 160 million years ago and rapidly diversified and spread across the planet in a time window perhaps as short as 5 million years,” said University College London paleontologist Paul Upchurch, a study co-author.

    “However, the discovery of Lingwulong means that this hypothesis is incorrect and we now have to work with the idea that, actually, this group and its major constituent lineages originated somewhat earlier and more gradually,” Upchurch said.

    Lingwulong lived in a warm and wet environment with lush vegetation including conifers, ferns and other plants. Its neck was not as long as some other sauropods and it may have grazed on low, soft plants with its peg-like teeth. Because so many individuals were found together, the researchers suspect Lingwulong, like other sauropods, lived in herds.

    Lingwulong belonged to a sauropod subgroup that previously was thought to have been absent from East Asia because it evolved after that land mass split from the rest of Pangaea, an ancient supercontinent.

    “Our discoveries indicate that eastern Asia was still connected to other continents at the time,” Xu said.


    16th-century manuscript could rewrite Australian history

    A tiny drawing of a kangaroo curled in the letters of a 16th-century Portuguese manuscript could rewrite Australian history.

    The document, acquired by Les Enluminures Gallery in New York, shows a sketch of an apparent kangaroo ('⟊nguru'' in Portuguese) nestled in its text and is dated between 1580 and 1620. It has led researchers to believe images of the marsupial were already being circulated by the time the Dutch ship Duyfken - long thought to have been the first European vessel to visit Australia - landed in 1606.

    Image of what is thought to be a kangaroo on a 16th-century processional could lend weight to the theory that the Portuguese were the first explorers to set foot on Australian soil, before the Dutch or English.

    The pocket-sized manuscript, known as a processional, contains text and music for a liturgical procession and is inscribed with the name Caterina de Carvalho, believed to be a nun from Caldas da Rainha in western Portugal.

    The European discovery of Australia has officially been credited to the Dutch voyage headed by Willen Janszoon in 1606, but historians have suggested the country may already have been explored by other western Europeans.

    The manuscript may precede what is believed to be the first European docking in Australia.

    'ɺ kangaroo or a wallaby in a manuscript dated this early is proof that the artist of this manuscript had either been in Australia, or even more interestingly, that travellers' reports and drawings of the interesting animals found in this new world were already available in Portugal,'' Les Enluminures researcher Laura Light said.

    ''Portugal was extremely secretive about her trade routes during this period, explaining why their presence there wasn't widely known.''

    Peter Trickett, an award-winning historian and author of Beyond Capricorn, has long argued that a Portuguese maritime expedition first mapped the coast of Australia in 1521-22, nearly a century before the Dutch landing.

    ''It is not surprising at all that an image of a kangaroo would have turned up in Portugal at some point in the latter part of the 16th century. It could be that someone in the Portuguese exhibition had this manuscript in their possession,'' Mr Trickett said.

    National Library of Australia curator of maps Martin Woods said that while the image looked like a kangaroo or a wallaby, it alone was not proof enough to alter Australia's history books.

    ''The likeness of the animal to a kangaroo or wallaby is clear enough, but then it could be another animal in south-east Asia, like any number of deer species, some of which stand on their hind legs to feed off high branches,'' Dr Woods said.

    'ɿor now, unfortunately the appearance of a long-eared big-footed animal in a manuscript doesn't really add much.''

    Les Enluminures Gallery, which lists the manuscript's value at $US15,000 ($16,600), acquired the processional from a rare book dealer in Portugal and will exhibit the piece as part of an exhibition.

    Portugal was extremely secretive about her trade routes during this period, explaining why their presence there wasn't widely known.

    Also entwined in letters of the text are two male figures adorned in tribal dress, baring naked torsos and crowns of leaves, which Ms Light said could be Aborigines.

    Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, John Gascoigne, said proving that the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Australia would be 'ɿorever difficult to document because of their secrecy and because so many of the records were destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755''.

    ''The possible date span for the manuscript goes up to 1620, which would accommodate the arrival of Willen Janszoon in the Duyfken in northern Australia in 1606,'' Professor Gascoigne said.

    He speculated the images could come from a 1526 trip to Papua.

    ''Looking at it from a European perspective, it is surely evocative to wonder what these exotic images must have meant to the Portuguese nun gazing at them from within the confines of her convent's walls,'' Ms Light said.


    Ancient African coins that could change history of Australia

    Kilwa -- full name Kilwa Kisiwani -- is a former city-state that rose to become one of the most dominant trading centers on the coast of East Africa in the 13th and 14th century.

    Kilwa was situated on an island off the coast of modern-day southern Tanzania. The city was founded in the late 10th century but was nearly destroyed by the Portuguese in 1505. Thereafter, it started declining before eventually being abandoned.

    During its heyday, the island city was a major trading point for gold and ivory from Africa's interior and pottery, porcelains and other goods from the Far East.

    Five Kilwa coins, believed to date back to the 1100s, were discovered in the Wessel Islands, near Australia's Northern Territory. Pictured, Mission Bay, Elcho Island, Wessel Islands, at Cadell Strait.

    "From the 1100s to the 1300s, Kilwa was the most prominent port in the entire east African coast, bigger than Mombasa, Zanzibar and Mogadishu," says professor Ian McIntosh.

    Today, the city is covered by the standing remains that survived of the ancient city, including several mosques, a Portuguese fort and the famed Husuni Kubwa palace.

    The Great Mosque of Kilwa Kisiwani is the oldest standing mosque on the East African coast, according to UNESCO, which declared the city a World Heritage Site in 1981.

    The mosque's great domes, some of which were decorated with porcelain from China, dates from the 13th century.

    • African coins dating back to 1100s found in remote part of Australia
    • Coins were minted in powerful African city state of Kilwa, in modern-day Tanzania
    • Australian professor leading an expedition to discover how they got there

    (CNN) -- Can a handful of ancient copper coins from a once-opulent but now abandoned corner of East Africa change what we know about Australian history?

    A team of researchers is on a mission to find out.

    With its glittering wealth, busy harbor and coral stone buildings, the island of Kilwa rose to become the premier commercial post of coastal East Africa around the 1300s, controlling much of the Indian Ocean trade with the continent's hinterland.

    Situated in present-day southern Tanzania, during its heyday Kilwa hosted traders from as far away as China, who would exchange gold, ivory and iron from southern Africa's interior for Arabian pottery and Indian textiles as well as perfumes, porcelains and spices from the Far East.

    But the Kilwa sultanate's heyday came to a crashing end in the early 1500s with the arrival of the Portuguese who sacked the city in their bid to dominate the trade routes between eastern Africa and India.

    Kilwa map. Click to expand Kilwa map. Click to expand

    From then on, Kilwa never managed to recover its greatness. With its trading network gradually eclipsing, the once flourishing city started to decline in importance. It was eventually deserted in the 19th century, its crumbling, UNESCO-protected ruins offering today a glimpse of its glorious past.

    But interest in this nearly forgotten East African city has resurfaced lately thanks to the mystery surrounding a remarkable discovery thousands of miles away, in a long-abandoned, remote chain of small islands near Australia's Northern Territory.

    Astonishing discovery

    Back in 1944, an Australian soldier named Maurie Isenberg was assigned to one of the uninhabited but strategically positioned Wessel Islands to man a radar station. One day, whilst fishing on the beach during his spare time, he discovered nine coins buried in the sand. Isenberg stored them in a tin until 1979, when he wondered if they might be worth something and sent them to be identified.

    Four of the coins were found to belong to the Dutch East India Company, with one of them being from the late 17th century.

    But the rest of them were identified as originating from Kilwa, believed to date back to the 1100s. The sultanate started minting its own currency in the 11th century.

    "It's a very fascinating discovery," says Ian McIntosh, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropologist.

    "Kilwa coins have only ever been found outside of the Kilwa region on two occasions," he explains.

    "A single coin was found in the ruins of great Zimbabwe and one coin was found in the Arabian Peninsula, in what is now Oman, but nowhere else. And yet, here is this handful of them in northern Australia, this is the astonishing thing."

    Re-write history?

    According to history textbooks, Aboriginal explorers arrived in Australia from Asia at least 60,000 years ago. The first European widely known to have set foot on the continent was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606, more than 160 years before captain James Cook arrived at Australia's south-eastern coast to claim the territory for the British empire.

    So how did the five coins from distant Kilwa wind up in the isolated Wessel Islands? Was a shipwreck involved? Could it be that the Portuguese, who had looted Kilwa in 1505, reached the Australian shores with coins from East Africa in their possession? Or was it that Kilwan sailors, renowned as expert navigators all across the sea route between China and Africa, were hired by traders from the Far East to navigate their dhows?

    These are the kind of questions that McIntosh now hopes to answer as he bids to unravel the mystery of how the coins, which are currently stored in Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, were found in this part of the world.

    "We have five separate hypotheses we're looking to test about how these coins got there, each one quite different from the other," says McIntosh. On July 15, he will lead an eight-member team of archaeologists, historians and scientists to the area where Isenberg discovered the coins.

    "This is an initial survey if we find something then we'll prepare for a more detailed and focused exploration in specific areas," says the Australian professor. "We are interested in a more accurate portrayal of Australian history that is currently allowed in textbooks."

    The team will embark on its quest for answers equipped with a nearly 70-year-old map on which Isenberg had marked with an X the spot where he found the coins.

    McIntosh, who was sent the map before Isenberg's death in 1991, says he first tried to mount an expedition to the Wessel Islands in the early 1990s but at the time he'd failed to gather funding.

    "In 1992 there was a very limited interest for such a venture," he says. "But we maintained an interest in the Kilwa connection because it was such a famous place in its day -- from the 1100s to the 1300s it was the most prominent port in the entire east African coast, bigger than Mombasa, Zanzibar and Mogadishu."

    "If you bought these coins in a shop in Kilwa, you could probably get them for a few dollars," says McIntosh. "But in northern Australia, these are priceless in terms of their historical value."


    Footnotes

    1. “The Kariong Glyphs and the Prohibited Egyptians: Research Proves the Kariong Glyphs to Be Genuine and Exposes the Critics as Hoaxters” by Hans-Dieter von Senff, 2011, 99.

    2. Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor, Inner Traditions International, Ltd., 1991, 75.

    3. “Ancient Odyssey” by Jacqui Hayes, Cosmos, 2010, Front Cover.

    4. “First Australians Were Indian: Research,” Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2009, 16.

    6. “Wurdi Youang Rocks Could Prove Aborigines Were First Astronomers,” 5 February 2011, www.news.com.au/technology/sci-tech/ancient-aboriginal-eyes-were-on-the-skies/story-fn5fsgyc-1226000523978

    © New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
    For our reproduction notice, click here.


    World War 2 'treasure map' tipped to rewrite history after experts left puzzled

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    After Japanese bombers attacked Darwin, the Wessel Islands &ndash off Australia&rsquos north coast &ndash became a strategic position to help protect the mainland. Maurie Isenberg from the Royal Australian Air Force was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the beaches. While sitting in the sand, he discovered a handful of coins &ndash puzzled by them, he placed them in a tin and marked a map with an &lsquoX&rsquo to remember where he had found them.

    Trending

    It was not until 35 years later when he tried to sell the coins, that Mr Isenberg would become aware of the &ldquotreasure&rdquo he had found.

    The coins proved to be 1,000 years old, and sparked the interest of the science community, including anthropologist Ian McIntosh &ndash who dubbed them "priceless".

    Prof McIntosh and his team of Australian and American historians, archaeologists, geomorphologists and Aboriginal rangers believed the five coins date back to the 900s to 1300s.

    European sailors are known to have sailed the coast of Australia in the 1600s, but it wasn't until Captain James Cook landed in Sydney's Botany Bay in 1770 that the British laid claim to the country.

    A World War 2 treasure map could rewrite history (Image: GETTY)

    Ian McIntosh was fascinated by the find (Image: INDIANA UNI)

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    The coins, believed to have originated in the medieval sultanate of Kilwa &ndash an area which is now in Tanzania &ndash led to speculation that parts of northern Australia were visited by other mariners from as far away as the Middle East and Africa.

    Prof McIntosh wrote in a paper for the journal 'Australian Folklore,&rsquo that "the argument for the involvement of Kilwa traders and also the Portuguese is quite compelling".

    He noted the sea route from Kilwa in East Africa to Oman and then onto India, Malaysia and Australia's close neighbour Indonesia was well established by the 1500s and probably for many hundreds of years before that.

    While the theory could rewrite the history books, the academic admitted the coins may have simply washed ashore.

    Five coins were found in the sand (Image: GETTY)

    They were found on Australia's Wessel Islands (Image: GOOGLE)

    Prof McIntosh led an expedition to the where the map marked the spot and, following an extensive search, found no further coins.

    He said: &ldquoOver the past couple of years, we've developed a whole series of hypotheses to explain how those coins might have got from East Africa to northern Australia.

    &ldquoThe whole point of this initial site survey was to try and get enough evidence to push us in particular directions.&rdquo

    Researchers did uncover Aboriginal rock art and some potential evidence of shipwrecks in the form of a six-foot piece of timber from a boat.

    The coins were uncovered during World War 2 (Image: GETTY)

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    For now, the mystery lives on.

    Prof McIntosh added in 2013: &ldquoThese coins probably remained in circulation for a couple of hundred years but only in the vicinity of East Africa, beyond that, they didn't have value.

    "Nowhere else in the world have they been found, except for northern Australia.


    'Poor' evidence of human presence

    Although Dr Bowler has been less involved in the project at Moyjil since the team's research was published in the Royal Society of Victoria journal in 2018, the other scientists have continued their work.

    Professor McNiven said over time opinions and conclusions about the site within the team had diverged.

    "I put myself at one extreme, which some may say is a more conservative view," he said.

    "I still believe that evidence to demonstrate an Aboriginal presence there is poor at the moment.

    "I wouldn't say it's out of the question — I still think we need to do more work, which is why I'm still involved.

    "The trick is we can't really come up with a good natural explanation and there lies the issue.


    Albany: archaeological find of Collet Barker’s quarters could rewrite WA history books

    Archaeologists have found what they believe are the foundations of WA’s oldest colonial building — a discovery with the potential to rewrite the State’s history books.

    Using old survey books and ground-penetrating radar, Notre Dame University senior archaeology and history lecturer Shane Burke and his team are confident they have found the remains of the 190-year-old commandant’s quarters in Albany.

    They are about 1.2m under Foundation Park, a dog and recreation park on Parade Street.

    The quarters were built a year before Fremantle’s Round House, which is considered the oldest building standing in WA.

    “In the context of the history of WA and the history of Albany, this is an important find,” Dr Burke said. “It has the potential to unlock some valuable insights into early colonial life.”

    Dr Burke now hopes to work with the City of Albany to excavate the site.

    A panoramic view of King George Sound, painted by Lieut. Robert Dale in 1833. The headquarters (commandant’s quarters) is on the far right near the cross roads. Credit: supplied

    The quarters, seen in the drawing below, were one of several buildings built when Albany was a military outpost of NSW between 1826 and 1831.

    Measuring 10m by 6m and with four rooms and a chimney, it was built between May and July 1829.

    The quarters are of special significance because they were the home of Capt. Collet Barker.

    His diary is one of Australia’s best historical documents describing the early interaction between Europeans and Aboriginal people.

    Because the outpost had no plans for expansion, Capt. Barker was able to build a friendly relationship with local Aboriginals, including clan leader Mokare.

    Dr Burke and his team used survey data recorded by colonial surveyor and explorer Alfred Hillman to mark out a likely location of the walls and hearth of the commandant’s quarters.

    They used ground-penetrating radar to match underground “anomalies” with the likely locations of the walls.

    “It is a quirk of history that the site has never been built on over the last 190 years,” Dr Burke said.

    “It means that the building’s foundations have not been disturbed. And they have survived because they were most likely largely built of rock and stone.

    “It will be fascinating to see what we discover . imagine the significance if we found the nib from the pen used by Capt. Barker to write his diaries?”

    Dr Burke said the find would not have happened without the support and permission of the City of Albany.

    A search for a second nearby building, the barracks, was unsuccessful, probably because it was made of rammed earth and had disintegrated back into the soil.

    Capt. Barker was in Albany for two years. The Napoleonic War veteran returned to Sydney in March 1831. He was killed the following month by Aboriginals.


    Accidental discovery of blood, collagen in dinosaur bones could rewrite textbooks

    An amazing discovery could rewrite textbooks, after a paleontologist accidentally found blood and soft tissue preserved in tattered dinosaur fossils. If proven, science expects answers to age-old questions, including: “Can we resurrect dinosaurs?”

    The red blood cells and collagen fibers were discovered by chance when Imperial College London’s Sergio Bertazzo and Susannah Maidment were examining the buildup of calcium in human blood vessels. Bertazzo wanted to perform a few tests using electronic microscopes and ended up asking the Natural History Museum for some fossils to test his findings, according to the IB Times.

    They received eight pieces, all estimated at 75 million years old.

    What the pair found could prove we’ve consistently been looking at dinosaurs in the wrong way: it suggests that nearly every fossil science studied in the past century could contain similarly well-preserved blood and tissue samples, answering questions on dinosaur evolution, physiology, behavior, and whether their DNA could also be intact. From there on in, we’re entering sci-fi territory.

    Most of the fossils studied by the pair were very poorly-preserved fragments, including toes and claws from what could be several different species.

    While collagen – the protein that helps form skin – had previously been found in a very well-preserved bone, finding it together with blood cells in a shabby one is remarkable, according to Maidment and Bertazzo. It means we could go about re-examining every bone in the museum and come up with potentially ground-breaking findings that enable us to understand how creatures lived in prehistoric times.

    “One morning, I turned on the microscope, increased the magnification, and thought ‘wait – that looks like blood!’” Bertazzo said, according to the Guardian. He had already been examining the fragments for months.

    At first, the two scientists thought it might have been contamination from a museum worker with a cut on their finger. But mammal blood cells don’t contain nuclei, while these blood cells did. This fact ruled out human blood.

    “I thought there must be another explanation. That it was bacteria, or pollen or modern contamination. We went into it with a great deal of skepticism then attempted to eliminate every other possibly hypothesis there could possibly be,” Maidment told the IB Times.

    Similar to the discovery of blood, the pair found amino acids that make up collagen, embedded inside the bone fragments. Its presence could be used to identify previously unknown specimens, unraveling whole dinosaur family trees.

    Blood has its own set of secrets. The scientists believe its discovery in the fossils to be the first step towards understanding whether dinosaurs were cold, or warm-blooded, and when the switch began to occur and why.

    “I think one of the key things from the blood cells is that there’s a very well constrained relationship to do with metabolic rate and blood cells size among vertebrates,” Maidment explained. “Within specific vertebrate groups, the smaller the blood cells the faster the metabolic rate. Animals with a faster metabolic rate tend to be warm-blooded, whereas those with a slow metabolic rate tend to be cold-blooded.

    “The ancestors of dinosaurs are thought to have been cold-blooded animals, while birds’ descendants are warm-blooded, so somewhere along that evolutionary lineage, from proto-dinosaurs up through to birds, you’ve got the evolution of warm-bloodedness,” she continued.

    “That’s been a subject of interest among paleontologists for some time because if they were warm-blooded that gives you the idea that these are very active, very bird-like animals. And perhaps much more bird-like than they were reptilian. If they were cold-blooded that gives us more this reptilian idea of their behavior, their habits and lifestyles.”

    It’s time now for more detailed studies, the pair says. “It may well be that this type of tissue is preserved far more commonly than we thought. It might even be the norm,” said Maidment, as cited by the Guardian. “This is just the first step in this research.”

    Bertazzo believes the discovery “opens up the possibility of loads of specimens that may have soft tissue preserved in them, but the problem with DNA is that even if you find it, it won’t be intact. It’s possible you could find fragments, but to find more than that? Who knows?”


    Ancient African Coins Found In Australia Could Rewrite History Team Seeks 1,000-Year-Old Evidence

    In 1770, British sea captain Lieutenant James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia, claiming the territory for England. But a new expedition led by an Australian anthropologist is seeking evidence of ancient explorations that may have taken place far before Cook and his fellow European explorers ever arrived on the continent.

    The expedition, led by Ian McIntosh, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), will follow a nearly 70-year-old treasure map to an area where a cache of mysterious, 1,000-year-old coins were discovered in the 1940s, according to a IUPUI release.

    The researchers hope to discover how the coins ended up in the sand -- whether they washed ashore from a shipwreck and whether they can provide more details about ancient trading routes.

    The coins were originally found during World War II by Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg, who was stationed in a remote area known as the Wessel Islands, off the Australian north coast. While fishing one day in 1944, Isenberg found a few old coins and took them home as keepsakes. It wasn't until 1979 that Isenberg sent the coins to be authenticated and learned they were actually 1,000 years old.

    According to IUPUI, some of the coins are from the Dutch East India Company, while five older coins came from Kilwa Sultanate in Tanzania. Once an opulent trading hub, Kilwa is now in ruins, classified a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    “This trade route was already very active, a very long period of time ago, and this may [be] evidence of that early exploration by peoples from East Africa, or from the Middle East,” McIntosh told Indiana Public Media.

    Australia has a "fixation" on Cook and the Dutch explorers who reached Australia in the 1600s, but the coins hint at something bigger, McIntosh said.

    "There is strong evidence that Australia was part of a broad trading network," that at one point included southern Africa, India, China and the Spice Islands, McIntosh told The Huffington Post. "To what extent we have no idea, but we have to find out."

    The Wessel Islands, located about 130 kilometers off Australia's northern coast, serve as a "big catching arm" for any ships blown off course, McIntosh told HuffPost.

    "Everything about [the islands] speaks of ancient context," he said.

    McIntosh will be attempting to retrace Isenberg's steps, using a map the old soldier drew by hand. Isenberg marked the coins' site with an "X."

    "It's like a detective story. We're trying to piece together the past," he said.

    McIntosh will be joined by a team of Australian and American historians, archaeologists, geomorphologists and Aboriginal rangers. With financial backing from the Australian Geographic Society, the team will map and survey the area where the coins were discovered, test the soil and conduct various coastal analysis, according to the IUPUI news release.



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