Skip to comments.Wollemi Find An Aboriginal Seat Of The Gods
Posted on 04/20/2007 11:02:59 AM PDT by blam
Wollemi find an Aboriginal seat of the gods
April 21, 2007
A ROCK platform in the heart of the Wollemi wilderness may be the closest thing Australia has to Mount Olympus, the seat of the gods in Greek mythology.
Last spring archaeologists discovered an enormous slab of sandstone, 100 metres long and 50 metres wide, in the 500,000-hectare Wollemi National Park. It was covered in ancient art.
The gallery depicted an unprecedented collection of powerful ancestral beings from Aboriginal mythology.
Last week the archaeologists who found the platform, Dr Matthew Kelleher and Michael Jackson, returned with a rock art expert from Griffith University, Professor Paul Tacon, a Blue Mountains-based archaeologist, Wayne Brennan, and several of their colleagues. Two senior members of the Aboriginal community - a Darkinjung sites officer, Dave Pross, and a Central Australian artist, Rodger Shannon-Uluru - and the Herald joined the expedition.
For most of the day the engravings are almost invisible. In the low light of dawn and dusk the images are briefly revealed.
The team had five days to document 42 figurative motifs, and by the first evening Professor Tacon, Mr Brennan and Dr Kelleher had recognised a gathering of the gods. The supreme being Baiame and his son Daramulan were both there. Near them is an evil and powerful club-footed being, infamous for eating children.
Several ancestral emu women and perhaps the most visually powerful of the images - an eagle man in various incarnations - are also depicted.
"The site is the Aboriginal equivalent of the palace on Mount Olympus where the Olympians, the 12 immortals of ancient Greece, were believed to have lived," Professor Tacon said.
"This is the most amazing rock engraving site in the whole of south-eastern Australia."
Even in famous rock art regions in the north it is extremely rare to see big gatherings of ancestral beings depicted together, he said.
It is almost impossible to imagine how humans could travel through, let alone survive in, the Wollemi. It is dissected by deep canyons and in places almost impassable.
And yet the archaeologists have found hundreds of sites in the past five years. It seems almost certain that the engravings are part of a much larger network of songlines and stories, the full meaning of which is all but lost.
Pross was struck by the complexity of the tale that the drawings must once have told.
"They reckon we didn't have written language," he said.
"We didn't have a, b, c, d but we had a written language in these engravings. They would have been able to read from site to site to site."
In many cases the figures seem to point to other important geographical features or major cultural sites, and possibly to patterns in the stars.
The team also found evidence of everyday existence, such as rock shelters that still bear signs of their occupants - hand stencils, a partial stone axe head, flakes from stone tools and at the back of a cave timber that could only have been stacked by a person.
"The only thing we haven't found out here is a living community," Dr Kelleher said.
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When we got caught after dusk trying to read old tombstones that we had driven over a thousand miles to record, I made an interesting discovery. When I shined my big Maglight at a grazing angle across near-invisible, moss-covered text, it stood out as if it had been freshly-carved.
Now, when my wife (our family genealogist) goes "cemetery-crawling", I go along with a big, framed mirror to sidelight the text with reflected sunlight. The technique produces far better photos than do rubbing or chalk-dusting -- and it leaves no marks behind...
All those Aussies need is a couple of big mirrors...
Hmmm. ‘Cemetery-Crawling,’ an interesting hobby. Thanks for the input on the mirrors.
A little more down to earth...
Was the artist left or right handed?
here's a pic of an area of the Wollemi National Park:
more fair dinkum rock-art images from the same area...thanks for the link.
The site is the Aboriginal equivalent of the palace on Mount Olympus where the Olympians, the 12 immortals of ancient Greece, were believed to have lived...
now there's an example of NOT fair dinkum!
I’ll try that soon.
Once you have determined the best lighting angle, a detached (cable) or remote photoflash fired from that same position produces outstanding photos...