Author Topic: A Kilwa Coin to Change History of the Australian Continent?  (Read 89 times)

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How one coin could change the entire history of a continent

ByMatt Roper
10:00, 6 JUL 2019

For centuries Australians have been taught that their country was first discovered by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1770, who quickly claimed it for the British throne and declared the continent “terra nullius”.

But now the history books may have to be rewritten - because of the discovery of a tiny copper coin.


Archeologist Mike Hermes has revealed that he found the ancient coin on a deserted Australian beach last year and claims its discovery could “change everything” about what is known of Australia’s history.

The coin is from Kilwa, an ancient trading city 6,000 miles away in what is today's Tanzania in Africa, and may predate the first European explorers by hundreds of years.

Kilwa coins have been found previously in northern Australia, in 1944, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Down Under much earlier than what is believed.

But because this new coin, discovered last July, was found on a remote beach on the previously uninhabited Elcho, part of the Wessel Islands off the northern coast, historians believe there are few only explanations as to how the coin got there.

Mike Hermes, who found the copper coin, said: “We’ve weighed and measured it, and it’s pretty much a dead ringer for a Kilwa coin, and if it is, well, that could change everything.”

It could mean that the first non-Aborigines to set foot in Australia were not Europeans but Africans from Kilwa.

Archeologists say that they may have brought the coins from Africa themselves, or the coins could have washed ashore from a shipwreck.

Another explanation is that the Portuguese, who had raided Kilwa in 1505, left the coin behind on their travels in south-east Asia.

Portuguese seafarers were in East Timor in 1515 and could potentially had reached the Australian mainland.

It would make them probably the first Europeans to reach Australia, and would mean they were there some 250 years before Captain Cook laid a British claim to the continent.

Mike Hermes said: “The Portuguese were in Timor in 1515, 1515 - to think they didn’t go three more days east with this monsoon wind is ludicrous.”

Aboriginal Australians are thought to have first arrived on the mainland by boat from the Malay Archipelago between 40,000 and 60,000 years ago.

But the coin raises many important questions about Australia’s recent history of colonisation.

Kilwa, now a World Heritage ruin on an island off Tanzania, was once was a flourishing trade port with links to India in the 13th to 16th century.

The trade with gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, Arabian stone ware, Persian ceramics and Chinese porcelain made the city one of the most influential towns in East Africa at the time.

Archaeologists have long suspected there may have been early maritime trading routes that linked East Africa, Arabia, India and the Spice Islands even 1000 years ago.

The earliest European contacts with Australia have long been the subject of debate.

French navigator Binot Paulmier de Gonneville claimed to have landed at 'east of the Cape of Good Hope' in 1504, after being blown off course.


For a long time he was believed to have landed in Australia, but it was later proved to be Brazil.

The first known European landing was by a Dutch navigator, Willem Janszoon, in 1606.

The first Englishman to land on the Australian mainland was William Dampier, a former pirate.

He reached the northwest coast, near King Sound, in January 1688 after his ship - the Cygnet, a small trading vessel - was beached.

In 1770 Captain James Cook then reached Sydney's Botany Bay in 1770 and claimed the continent from Britain.

Source: The Mirror
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