Last month I posted a story about the mystery of ancient African coins discovered in northern Australia. In 1944, Royal Australian Air Force serviceman Maurie Isenberg discovered five coins dating back to Africa in the 12th century on a beach, some 10,000km (and 900 years) from their point of origin. How they got there is unknown.
For those interested in finding the answer to the mystery, you can now become a part of a crowd-funding project that aims to solve the puzzle, and which will document every step of the journey:
We call ourselves the ‘Past Masters’ and we are a multidisciplinary team of anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and enthusiastic members of the public. We are affiliated with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, and other institutions. Working closely with traditional Aboriginal Australians, sea rangers, and members of Norforce, a predominantly Aboriginal army unit, we seek answers to the mystery of the discovery of ancient African coins 8,000 miles from Kilwa (Tanzania) in north Australia in 1944.
Was an African or Arab or a Portuguese shipwreck implicated? Marooned Indonesian sailors? Had Aborigines traveled to Kilwa in days of old?
Our preliminary site survey of the remote Wessels Islands received global publicity in June 2013. In more than 20 countries, hundreds of television, radio, and newspaper articles were posted. CNN, Huffington Post, NBC, BBC, Channel Islam International, China Post, French Tribune, Voice of Russia, Der Speigel, Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand, and others covered the story. Our expedition has captured the imagination of people everywhere.
The standard view of Australian history is that British explorer Captain James Cook discovered the land Downunder in 1770. What these African coins suggest is that Australia has a far older history and that indigenous Australians were a part of the vast Indian Ocean maritime silk route that linked East Africa, Arabia, Persia, India, China and Indonesia. With your help, in our major expedition planned for Summer 2014 (the Australian Winter) we can put an end to the prevailing and outdated ‘myth of isolation’ and help reveal an infinitely richer past involving many peoples over the millennia. We seek answers in a search for shipwrecks, in an analysis of ancient rock art, and in the stories of the Dreaming.