Wednesday 31 July 2013

Ancient coins found in Northern Australia

Now some of you probably feel an Australian connection to the ancient trade routes is pretty unlikely, and, yes, if the Southern Continent had any participation in Classical-era shipping it was more about wrecks and castaways than Phoenician mines or lost Egyptian Pyramids. So did these ancient ship wrecks or occasional visits happen? The answer now appears almost certainly a resounding YES. In 1944 five 1000-year old copper coins were found on a Wessel Islands beach off the Northwest coast of Australia. An expedition is currently being undertaken by a Professor of Anthropology at the Indiana University, Ian McIntosh to conduct the first intensive search of the islands for more evidence of a wreck. The coins originated from the the Sultanate of Kilwa in modern day Tanzania - and a key player in the Trans-Indian ocean trade at the time. And while these coins confirm traders passing the Australian coast 1000-years ago, the point is, this unlucky ship or sailor was travelling along the same trade routes established by the ancient Egyptians, Tamils and Chinese perhaps 2000-years beforehand. So there's a chance Professor McIntosh might find some even older evidence during his search. Time, as usual, will tell.  For more on ancient ocean trade you can read 'Vagabond' - available from Amazon, just follow the links

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