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News.com.au ^ | 20 May 2013 | BARBARA BARKHAUSEN

REMEMBER when you were taught that Australia was discovered by James Cook in 1770 who promptly declared it “terra nullius” and claimed it for the British throne? Turns out that could be completely and utterly wrong.

Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an “X” might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia’s history.

Australian scientist Ian McIntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, is planning an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community.

The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.

Back in 1944 during World War II, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands – an uninhabited group of islands off Australia’s north coast – had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland.

Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the idyllic beaches. While sitting in the sand with his fishing-rod, he discovered a handful of coins in the sand.

He didn’t have a clue where they could come from but pocketed them anyway and later placed them in a tin. In 1979 he rediscovered his “treasure” and decided to send the coins to a museum to get them identified. The coins proved to be 1000 years old.

Still not fully realising what treasure he held in his hands, he marked an old colleague’s map with an “X” to remember where he had found them.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.com.au


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