When people speak of Ancient History in a human context, many people automatically think of places such as Africa or the mythical Troy, the Ancient Greeks or perhaps the early tribes of Britain or Europe. Maybe even Buddhist temples or the Aztecs.
Not many of you would instantly think of Australia. Would that be true to say? And yet Australia holds bound by its bleached, golden beaches and its rocky unforgiving shores an abundance of evidence showing it to be the home of some of the worlds most ancient human settlement.
But they did not write the Illiad, and they did not create written history with the Icelandic Sagas and Beowulf. The Australian Aboriginal gave you something much harder to seek out. Something just as special and wonderous.
|Sites of the Pilbara Rocks, Western Australia|
Since they came to live on this environmentally diverse island, their words and histories have been written in secret and inhospitable places.
Their cultural histories are not written in a language you or I would define as words.
Their written language is manifested as figures and images. Things they have seen or want to show to others.
Engraved or painted - with mineral paints such as ochre and ash - into the walls and stones and caves across this ancient land where only an experienced journeyor can stumble upon them or seek them out. They are ancient words in sacred places and this is probably why they have retained their unmarred beauty for tens of thousands of years and will continue to retain their beauty for tens of thousands more.
Here you will find the Pilbara Petroglyphs. Over a million engravings of animals of local provenance,humans, human faces and other animals that have long gone from the area – gone due to extinction, or their species being isolated to other parts of the country many thousands of miles away eg the Tasmanian Tiger.
|A Pilbara Petroglyph|
They have even proposed that some of the engravings could be as old as 60,000 years ago and the low rates of erosion and low rainfall in the area go a long way to assisting them in their dating analysis, but as yet this more ancient figure can not be emphatically proven.
These Pilbara Rocks are only one example of many Aboriginal artworks that date to tens of thousands of years ago. They are spread across the country in all States and Territories.
|The Nawarla Gabarnmang cave Paintings|
So stow these facts away and next time someone mentions countries with a wealth of ancient history, you make me proud and tell them a thing or two about early human history in a part of the world that rarely comes to mind to most. The Australian Aboriginal. Who's history of settlement begins long before you may have imagined.
For more information on the Pilbara Petroglyphs: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379113000978