Coining our history

Australian anthropologist Ian McIntosh at Indiana University is trying to work out whether five coins found in the Northern Territory during World War II are evidence that sailors from Africa reached Australia up to 900 years ago. The coins originated in the East African sultanate of Kilwa around 1100 AD and were uncovered in 1944 by Australian serviceman Maurie Isenberg, along with some much more recent Dutch coins. The coins, found in the Wessel Islands off Arnhem Land, may also be connected to local Aboriginal rock art, which seems to show a sailing vessel. McIntosh believes ‘the argument for the involvement of Kilwa traders and also the Portuguese is quite compelling’. Most strands of our history go back long past Anzac.

October 2013

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