Down by the Creek
By Steven & Evan Strong
Special Thanks to Cade & Outsider
This is the second part of our investigation of a sacred and stone knapping site of immense importance found in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Down by the creek, there are plenty of rocks that turned out to be of repeated interest for a local professor and his students, but that was the sum total of what I knew about this stretch of creek. From previous experience elsewhere at the site, I was aware that there are a variety of shaped rocks with strong indications of much more, but from past experience I also knew many official channels regard anything we publish with contempt. So, in an attempt to resolve this impasse, a fully qualified archaeologist, an Original lady by the name of Outsider, joined us at the bank above the creek.
No prior instructions or information was given to Outsider, and our thinking was that the more hands and eyes involved the better, even better was the presence of a woman to balance the vision of the two males also looking. And in regard to that fundamental task of looking, initially it did not begin on a promising notice. I knew the professor had taken a full bucket from this location, and Cade had also ‘trimmed the top’ with those rocks safely stored on the site, but even so the way this site was spoken of I expected to see a residual landslide of artificially shaped and marked rocks spread out in front of me. All I could see was thousands and thousands of rocks, apparently all of the same colour and size, and not much else.
Is This a Tool Making Site?
Essentially, before establishing the types of artefacts and potential functions, the first question to be resolved is whether this is actually an Original archaeological site. Between one of the owners, Outsider and myself, we had one shared task, seek and assess anything that looks artificial through evidence of percussion bulbs, unusual shapes, straight lines, edging etc. As a general rule, I suggested that unless the rock had a 95% chance of human hands via tools being responsible, leave it where it sits. There were quite a few rocks rejected that were so close to being absolutely artefacts, but after hearing of this site’s credentials, the bar had to be high.
We all started looking, and for me the more acclimatised to the rocks and setting I became, the ‘forest became a collection of different trees and sizes.’ I started with one, then soon after another thin rectangular rock that was clearly not natural caught my attention. Any sense of personal achievement soon evaporated as firstly Cade, then Outsider, presented their first ‘catch.’ The quality was the equal of my prospecting, but the quantity was far greater. Everything presented that gained my tick was placed just above the water’s edge for closer examination. As we continued it became obvious I was the least productive, and the task would be better served by my checking on the increasing number Cade and Outsider were finding. Once we got past a rock-count of fifty I stopped looking and started accepting, sorting and assessing the continuous stream of candidates my two colleagues were drawn to.
The plan was simple, spend between one to two hours fossicking along a 50 metre stretch of the creek and see what turns up, then work from there. If the quality and quantity is there, then we have at the very least an ancient tool-making site. And maybe more, but to be honest it was our expectation there was none of the more sensational archaeology or far-reaching implications we normally focus upon. We were wrong.
The First Tick
The final tally of rocks accepted as showing tool marks, cuts or impact points was just under one hundred. That clustering does not necessarily mean all manner of tools were being made here, as the artefacts could have come from upstream and were deposited at a position where the flow of water was less rapid. That did not happen, not only was the size and weight of rocks collected so different necessitating a series of descending ‘drop off points’ along the creek, the cluster of small discarded flakes should be much further downstream. Equally, Outsider also presented an excellent example of a rock core from which flakes were taken, one side was extensively worked and extracted with the fracture lines easy to see. This Original piece of rock archaeology is hundreds of times heavier than the flakes also found in the same fifty-metre stretch. That disparity cannot agree with any explanation attributing all of this to erosion from above, the volume, variety and weight differences of these rocks found together beside the creek (along with tools of a far more advanced stature), leads us to believe that this is primarily a stone knapping and shaping site.
It is quite possible that along with what was happening at this site, other rocks were washed in from further upstream and deposited here. Either way, the majority of artefacts were made or discarded at this location.
Some More Ticks and a Huge Golden Star
I wasn’t prepared for a constant flow of rocks, especially so when my first impression was that this site was a dud. I do remember harbouring these negative thoughts just as I went back to look once again at an amazing set of incised rocks that is, to our knowledge, unique in this country. As I was arranging these rocks into position to be photographed, another one came in bringing the current count to twelve. That rock was the last entrant, there seemed no point going any further. We kept ourselves to a small part of the site, and after just over an hour we had just under one hundred rocks ready to be photographed and sorted into groups, there was no need to collect more as the site was obviously genuine.
Beginning with the ‘golden star’ ensemble of twelve, of which we do have one rock that is similar, but that comes nowhere near a dozen found within fifty metres of each other. The cuts, incisions and extractions are precise and clean. There are no jagged edges or the percussion bulbs that are so typical of all rock on rock impact points. Ignoring the precision and fine edges, all of these rocks seem to be lacking in any functional role. Whether it be hunting, gathering, smoothing wood, cutting flesh, engraving or grinding, rocks like these can do nothing. What is intriguing is the mid-range consistency in size, none are small or large and are of similar dimensions and weight, which seems to infer that there are agreed standards in formatting.
Ruling out all utilitarian and pragmatic uses, but factoring in a reason for incising, the use of sophisticated masonry skills and an advanced level of technology in whatever tools were applied, it would seem the only plausible field of intent has to be spiritual in direction. The same esoteric setting was discussed in the first report through the presentation of no less than three cylcons that Cade had already collected. In what only adds to the dominance of mystical pursuits in many forms at this site, is the number of rocks at this creek that also displays all the features of cylcons.
Not only are there many rocks that are narrow, long, rectangular and of the same general shape as a typical cylcon, at least two are set at a higher pitch when struck. As it is with some of the cylcons in our collection, when two of these creek rocks are struck the much higher-pitched responding octave is identical. At the time the rocks were struck, Outsider suggested that the higher pitch may be a particular trait of rocks of this geology, but I assured her all the cylcons we are minding that can also ‘ring’ are each a different make, yet the song remains the same. What these rocks also share in omission is that they also lack any visible evidence of percussion bulbs.
Outside the flakes and discards, cylcons, one rock core and twelve incised rocks, there are five other types of worked rocks found within this creek-side ensemble. When it comes to the selected rocks I placed into categories which include long rectangles, small thin rectangles, hammer-stones and shaped rocks, I am confident that in each group there is compelling evidence that tools were used in creating this end-product. However, we can be far less bold when it comes to the jasper rocks as there is room for negotiation. Under normal conditions when jasper breaks or fractures, the edges can be sharp and straight. If or when Jasper was shaped by Original stone or bone tools, the results are identical. So determining whether artificial or natural agents are responsible can never be absolute. However, when placed in context beside many indisputable examples of human activity and technology, the chances that these rocks were shaped is likely.
We can argue about which rocks are and are not, but because many are authentic, why not accept that most are intentionally shaped, rather than a begrudging few? And doesn’t it make it more likely that the rocks to which we denied admission, just, probably are worthy of inclusion?
What can never be questioned and resides in the well past proven beyond any doubt classification, is that the twelve rocks with sharp defined geometric incisions have to be made using skills and tools that are not supposed to be here until Cook. What these rocks share is that they were all shaped and dressed by either a metal blade, laser or sound wave. What they could never share is close contact with any object found within every stick, stone and bone toolkit. What is also not debatable is that, if consulting the anointed texts and experts, these inconvenient twelve rocks are lacking in a precedent, acknowledgement, the technology needed, a reason to be made or the right to exist.
Past the veneer and inside the incisions and as to why, well there are only possibilities, but with such skill evident it has to be very important, top level. Knowing that magic and the highest spiritual concerns were the ultimate priority in the Old Ways, it would seem as simple as one and one makes two in assuming that these special rocks serve a ceremonial purpose and would have been held in the highest regard. If they are indeed sacred, that would explain why none exhibit any form of abrasion or indications of use if a tool, weapon or implement.
Back to the Future, Down by the Creek
Irrespective of the credentials of the eight other groups of rocks, the incised twelve stand apart. They, of themselves, make this Original archaeological site deserving of further investigation and serious protection. Of course, this must be orchestrated by Original considerations with their direct involvement being compulsory. Fortunately, before I was invited to this site, Original protocol was addressed and ticked off. An agreement between the present owners and relevant Original keepers of Lore had been settled.
Unfortunately, that compact has not been recognised, and nor is the site protected. In fact, the chances are real in the near future that agreement will have no legal standing and that applies to what lays beside and in that same creek. The future is not good, and alas, such a tale of imminent destruction or dismissal of extremely significant Original archaeology and sacred sites is the norm. We were asked to prepare these reports as a direct consequence of the prospective actions of other parties, our brief was simply to prove ‘normal’ Original activity was occurring. The existence of the incised rocks is an unexpected fringe benefit that first appeared when looking down by the creek a few days ago.
This first patrol and reconnaissance along a small section of the creek is merely an introduction as to what is and what could be. There is so much more to this site, but right now until its safety and stewardship are sanctioned under the auspices of the treaty already signed, nothing is secure and another part of ancient Original history and culture is under the threat of extinction or will be smothered by blankets of looking the other way.
We are only ‘reinventing the wheel,’ the professor from the local university had already snuck onto the site without seeking approval from the Original custodians and long-time owners and candidly admitted that this was the most prolific site he has pilfered from. The reason he sent seven students to dispense with all professional archaeological standards and behave like bandits in stealing Original heritage, was simply because this is an amazing site. Perhaps he had already found one incised rock and was desperate to add to his ill-gotten stash, or it could it be the large variety and volume of stone artefacts was the incentive behind behaving so badly. We will never know, nor could we condone such an outrageous flaunting of the Original basic rules of admission, but what is certain is that this academic saw, stole and was prepared to do so again.
That means the sites are authentic and warrant immediate protection as of today, but come tomorrow …….