Diggers hail an ancient find
Murujuga’s claim as one of the most significant cultural sights in Australia has been boosted by what researchers are hailing as an “astounding” archaeological find on one of the archipelago’s islands.
A 14-strong team of researchers from the University of WA has uncovered evidence of one of Australia’s most ancient settlements on Rosemary Island.
UWA Centre for Rock Art Research and Management director Jo McDonald said though the research was in its early stages, the first rock shelter excavation in the area had uncovered evidence of Aboriginal occupation before the last ice age.
“Excavations on Rosemary Island, one of the outer islands, have uncovered evidence of one of the earliest known domestic structures in Australia, dated between 8000 and 9000 years ago,” she said.
“This is an astounding find and has not only enormous scientific significance but will be of great benefit to Aboriginal communities in the area, enhancing their connections to their deep past and cultural heritage.
“We anticipate that this extraordinary rock art estate will produce some spectacular insights into what life was really like in deep history.”
The find has added fuel to calls to World Heritage list the Burrup, which has long been touted by traditional owners and interest groups. Last week Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier told the the State Government was satisfied with current protections in place.
Mr Collier said the Murujuga National Park and national heritage listing provided adequate protection for the rock carvings in the area.
Ms McDonald said for the site to gain a World Heritage listing, her team needed to learn more about deep-time archaeology, the contemporary cultural values of Aboriginal people and to understand how they managed their cultural sites across the string of islands.
“As well as containing more than one million rock engravings of great scientific and cultural significance, the archipelago is home to one of the country’s largest industrial ports,” she said.
Researchers are using 3-D model printing to help in visualising the rock art. They said it would allow elders, many of whom are no longer physically able to visit the sites, to view it.
The Australian Research Council and Rio Tinto are funding the work.