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Wessel Island: The 900AD African Coin That Is Challenging Australia’s History

Wessels_map_Page_1For centuries a myth has been kept alive by the Indigenous community, that hidden in a cave on certain island is a secret stash of coins, weapons and untold treasurers.  Now a new secret has been exposed that this was no myth and priceless artifacts beyond our wildest dream may yet be uncovered in North Australia.

It was a young private, Maurie Isenberg, of the 312 Radar Unit who today has triggered enormous the interest in the Aboriginal myth even through his story began in 1944.

It was during the WWII that the young soldier was stationed somewhere close to paradise, on Wessel Island just north of Arnhem Land, empowered with the job of being on the lookout for a Japanese invasion.

One afternoon Maurie was fishing alone on a long sandy beach when scattered in the sand he noticed 9 ancient coins.

At the time the war was drawing to end and without much thought Maurie tossed the 9 coins in a matchbox and forgot about them for the next 39 years.

In the 1980′s the matchbox was once again uncovered, this time in a suburban home in Sydney. Only then did Maurie become curious about the origins of the coins and sought the advice from Bill Mira, a renowned expert.

Of the 9 coins four were easily traced back to Europe from as early as the 1600′s coins. It likely they were transported to Australian shores by sailors working on a Dutch East India Company that had once dominated the spice trade in Asia or maybe they arrived on rocky fishing boats venturing south from what is today Indonesia.

Yet the remaining five were a mystery until a group of British experts traced the copper coins to East Africa where the Sultan of Kilwa controlled the most powerful ports of the generation and spearheaded trade routes during his reign in 950 AD.

“The proposed age of some of the Kilwa coins was, to say the least, surprising! It opened up and extended the possible range and time frame of non Australian aboriginal contacts in Northern Australia by hundreds, if not a few thousand years,” said Bill Mira.

This is the modern mystery, did African trade stretch thousands of kilometres to read Australia, could such ancient boats have safely made it to our shores?

“The East Africa-Persia-India-Spice Islands (Indonesia) trade route was legendary, and the equal of the fabled Silk Route through Tibet.” said Dr Ian McIntosh, Anthropologist, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Dr McIntosh now is leading what could be groundbreaking research to uncover the mystery of how ancient African coins, turned up on an isolated beach on an island in Australia, and is seeking funds to expand this significant project.

In every school children are taught that other than the Indigenous community the Dutch were the first to land in Australia, but could it be that Africa had once established trade routes throughout the Indian Ocean and onto Australian shores?

Working closely with the local Indigenous community Dr McIntosh is launching an expedition to the Wessel Islands hoping to unravel the mystery of the thousand year old coins.

Uncovering their origins may change the writing of Australian history forever, but today, explaining how the coins of Wessel Island came to be is down to the toss of a coin.

Dr Ian McIntosh, with members of the indigenous Yolngu community

Dr Ian McIntosh, with members of the indigenous Yolngu community

The idea that an ancient trade route stretched over dangerous seas from Africa to Australia is feasible.  These are routes that would have sought to bring enormous wealth and discovery to the bustling markets of the country that is today known as Tanzania and Great Zimbabwe.

Yet the alternative theory is that the coins were transported across the ocean by a 17th century Dutch trading ship that was wrecked close to one of the many Islands or a Indonesian, Macassan shipwreck.

To survive the sailors offered coins to the Aboriginal community in exchange for food and other essentials.

Either way, what is clear is that deep below the ocean waters ships lie holding ancient cargo and this is likely to trigger a new adventure for historians and lovers of all ancient mysteries.







© Copyright 2013 Mary Banfield, All rights Reserved. Written For: Source Of The News

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