Dig­gers hail an an­cient find

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

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