Five Rocks and Barely a Mark to be Seen
By Steven & Evan Strong
Special Thanks to Janet Slottje
There has been no let up, nearly every day another offer of a rock to view by photograph or receive through the post is made. Many of these rocks held by others are of importance and are thankfully received. Despite the undeniable help and benefits gained by making the presence of such important rocks known and available to be investigated, some evidence is inevitably lost once any artefact is taken off-site. After the event is most assuredly appreciated and a good second best, but being on site with the artefact in situ is the most preferable option.
This time around we have a mixture of both. We came to visit this site as a result of constant prompting and patience shown by Janet, she approached us some time before and gave us some rather intriguing rocks of which one really stood out as utterly unique and reeking of advanced technology. It is a cut and carefully shaped five sided rock with the sides covered in a coat of red patina/paint. There are no marks whatsoever, the shapes and angles are the sole means of communication. It just wasn’t natural and incentive enough to finally make the time to look further on site.
When we met Janet and her partner Kev, they had a fine collection of rocks they were willing to give us, four were too enticing, clearly artificial and were gratefully received. One was marked, the only one in this ensemble, and is very reminiscent of Ros Rock 13. All the rest were shaped and two were of the same form as Ros’ Rock 5, but unlike that rock which has at least four constellations pecked into the surface, all the faces are clean. Nevertheless, it was the repetition of that form and of the same proportions regardless of size that caught our attention.
We had been to see many people before who were keen to show us what they had found, but it was always after the event. This time around there was the added bonus of visiting the site from which many of the eight rocks they had given us came from, with the real possibility of finding other rocks in situ. What is even more exciting is that of the five rocks to be discussed in this article, the most important and archaeologically unchallengeable rock is still in the same position wedged in the ground beside a small creek.
Down by the Creek
This report is back the front in sequencing, we are beginning this tale with an account of the last rock seen at the end of our time in country wandering up two creeks. Janet brought us down to the creek where quite a few of the shaped rocks were found. She, as Evan and I did, found quite a few rocks with straight lines and precise geometry. In each case the chances were high that the rock was shaped by hand, in some examples extremely high, but a cynic could still mount a weak argument in support of natural agents or forces.
Then we came upon the rock with the long cut. It is very hard and extremely difficult to pierce let alone cut a neat precise line that is not chiseled. The creek’s source is dense forest and national park, past this property up the steep bushy ascent no farm ever existed. This rock’s position, what lay above, the solitary cut with no other rock showing a mark remotely similar, all of these facts made this heavy rock embedded into the side of the bank one of a kind. Of its own it gives credibility to every other possible shaped rock. Simply because if this is a case of an extremely hard rock being cut centuries earlier, then if it happened once the chances are high there are more examples in the vicinity.
The cut line is over 30 centimetres in length, and the tool needed to slice into the rock needs to be put into context. As is the case with all the marked rocks the lines are consistent in width, depth pressure and evenness of the final product. There is no jagged edge or slightly off-centre join, everything is so smooth and even. The problem is if you were to wander down to the local hardware store today to purchase a hand-held tool that could equal what the ancients created, there is nothing on the shelves that comes close. What the line means, is important but a secondary consideration to the means of production, which by every approved account, is supposedly well beyond the capacity of every Original stick, stone and bone tool-kit.
The cut across the rock is clean, consistent in-depth and width, but not recent. On the top edge, as it sits wedged in the dirt now, it is quite worn. The cut is still the same width, not so the depth, it is less than half as deep. The surface up here near the corner is markedly eroded and this is not a rapid process and took many, many years. Knowing that it came from above and no-one non-Original person would ever find a reason to go bush up there, this rock just doesn’t fit into any contemporary version of pre-Cook Original history and tool-kits.
A return visit is obligatory and not long away. More measurements will be made, the other sides examined, angles and distances charted and a closer inspection of the surrounds for similar marks is compulsory. The many other shaped rocks we threw back into creek before seeing this cut need to be tallied, photographed and looked at again.
The Next Step in Reverse
We were very keen to spend some time looking at both creeks, of the four rocks we chose three came from that location and it was only ten minutes by car and easy to access. It turned out to be the easiest walk looking for archaeology we have ever had. Whether we would find something of similar importance and intrigue was still a maybe. It was possible Janet had scoured the place clean of every semi-unusual rock, either way we couldn’t lose as having possession of rocks of this quality was more than we expected.
We had already been given four rocks from this site to whet our appetite, but this next offering was even more enticing, if for no other reason every rock Janet laid out on the table was unlike anything in our collection, with one very fine exception. Our first choice was the smallest rock in the ensemble (Janet’s Rock 33), it is probable that this choice was influenced by how much it was part of a well-established pattern and so similar to Ros’ Rock 13 in shape, polish and rounded edges. Undeniably that rock has a far more intricate design in the shape of a sea-horse/dragon, while the exclusive use of straight lines is more like that markings shown on Ros’ Rock 10 and 1.
However, as much as the delicate thin lines that wrap around this rock are not unfamiliar, the path they take is an extension we have not seen previously. Every line is very fine, extremely straight and difficult to see. From a distance the rock seems to have a clean sheet, the diagram of two sides begins to expand upon what the eye can barely see. What is fascinating is the way the two upper lines taper and expand as they travel across three sides and one corner of considerable thickness. A large majority of the lines circumnavigate the entire rock and of all the rocks examined thus far, this rock bears witness to the straightest lines and precise geometry. There is not one line that deviates from ‘gun-barrel’ straight.
Then, in what only adds to the intrigue, this rock was artificially shaped. At our estimation we suspect about one-third of the rock was cut away, then the sides were rounded off. So soft are the lines and delicate the cut, we cannot be sure there is an underlying base rock or whether this is one complete rock. It is difficult to determine, but we can see a slight discolouration in this line which could indicate the base rock beneath is of a different make.
And that is the sum total of the one marked rock given to us by Janet, every other rock she has found in the immediate area has neither symbol nor mark. The only fact she is sure of in relation to the place of discovery of this chert rock is that it did not come from the two sites very close by.
Another Rectangle and Large Thumb Rest
Take away what was never there, the absence of any mark, cut, peck or imprint, and this rock fits perfectly in the rectangular series of marked rocks of which Ros’ Rock 1 is the major attraction. Having said that, if it does belong to this category then this rock is of the crudest cut, least worked with less than smoothed edges and has the most uneven faces. It resembles a crude prototype from which the other more sophisticated rocks were based. There is no base rock below, this seems to be one rock type which is not pure as the basalt has small pieces of quartz embedded into the surface.
No alignment is perfectly straight and there are bumps and small depressions spread throughout, and if it wasn’t for one prominent feature we would have not included this shaped rock in the rectangle category. As it is with Ros Rock 1, a tapering triangular section was cut away from one side so that the right-hand thumb could get the best ‘purchase’ and skin contact with the rock. What we can see here is the exact same accommodation was made. When held with the thumb beside the cleanest and least pocked side it points up with the rock sitting comfortably balanced in the right hand.
It may be a coarser version and lacking in any narrative, but the rock’s form is not natural. The real issue, as always, relates to the means of production and in this case we cannot be so absolute as to whether sophisticated technology was applied. Granted the edges are rougher and the chance that the percussion bulbs left by any rock on rock impact when shaping stones were originally there and traces still exist must be considered. Conversely it could also be the edges were rounder and cleaner and the passing of years and constant tumbling down a swollen creek has taken its toll. But when assessing the possible technologies at play it has to be noted that the five sided rock with the red patina was found in the same creek, as was the large cut rock still awaiting our next inspection.
Two Shades of Ros’ Rock 5
It was the peculiar shape of two rocks that caught our attention. Ros’ Rock 5 is a very distinctive right-angled trapezoid, so too are both of these rocks. Of course neither have the exact positioning of constellations like Corona Borealis marked onto the surface, but until these rocks were sighted, with the exception of the star chart rock that specific shape had not be seen on any of the 90 odd rocks of which we had inspected.
As with rectangular rock found in this creek, the edges and faces of these rocks are reasonably close in smoothness, alignment, rounded corners and sharp edges, but certainly inferior to all chert rocks. The smaller trapezoid seems to be in a slightly less damaged state, and vestiges of the original rounded edges still remain. Enough is still on display to be extremely confident in declaring that these smooth rounded edges once covered every side and such refined skills demand no less than metal tools and a master mason.
This rock carries six lines that are, although a touch battered in turbulent transit, perfectly straight. The technology required to create this form and balance is beyond the capacities of any stick, bone and stone tool kit. The same rules of exception that applied to the cut rock still in situ also holds fast with this rock trapezoid.
The second of this series is about three times bigger, certainly more knocked about and on first inspection seems to be almost, but not quite completed. Unlike its smaller cousin, there is one ridge on the diagonal that juts upwards and interrupts the geometry. It appears a bit like there was one more piece to remove which would complete the task, but it was deliberately left to upset the alignment. However, knowing that many rocks in the series we are working with have a depression or protrusion intentionally set aside for the right-hand thumb to rest upon while being held in a prescribed position, it should come as no surprise to find that if the thumb rests against this ridge the grip is perfect and the rock sits face up at 180 degrees in the hand.
The collateral damage on the bigger trapezoid is far greater, even so there still remains residual rounding on the edges and the measurements of each side on the face where the ridge remains is too coordinated to be natural. Two sides measure 10 centimetres, the other two 7 centimetres. Undeniably the crudest of the three trapezoids, but again enough remains on the perimeter to identify another example of advanced technology skirting around the edges.
Two Creeks and one Women’s Site
We declined Janet’s offer to take us to a third site that has the biggest rocks yet found which she feels was used in making buildings or very large rock structures. We have seen three shaped rocks Janet has taken from the site and two appear to be extremely unnatural. The recurring obstacle for us is that being a women’s site of great significance and knowing of the Dreaming Story attached to this location, it is very unwise and unhealthy for any male to walk onto this side unless under the guidance of an Original woman knowledgeable in such matters and sacred locations.
Of the many rocks Janet has collected, of which nearly a dozen we are holding, they are genuine. There is no doubt that the rocks have been worked in a variety of ways which will need different techniques and metal blades. Shaped rocks and construction blocks are definitely on site and part of the landscape for a very long time.
Steep forested land, always remote since settlement, it is a location that has seen scant non-Original presence or industry. This is the only other convenient possibility, that all these rocks with six different variations we can identify, are part of a very early failed mining or logging venture. We need nothing less than steel blade here, a pebble, branch or jaw bone is not up to the task. Above both the creek and women’s site it is very steep, thickly forested and of no commercial interest. It also the place from which these rocks came. For any group of non-Original people to venture into such a treacherous setting, it would be very unlikely unless a huge profit was the incentive. Then to compound the difficulties a manufacturing site capable of producing a variety of cuts and shapes was put together. That whole concept is a challenging ask, then if that isn’t enough of a stretch, we then have to throw into mix the most illogical component of this alternative scenario.
Of what use are these rocks to whitefellas, what purpose do they serve in mining, logging or farming? If the answer is none at all, which is the only sensible reply, then what we have here, in hand and still on site, is the rock-solid remains of an earlier technologically advanced civilisation. It’s one or the other, and there isn’t another.
The location of this new site is again considered too sensitive to warrant specifics, in general terms it is inland some distance within the Far North Coast region of New South Wales. The next step is to liaise with the appropriate Original Elders and custodians of the Old Ways, which has already been set into motion. When all protocols are observed, we will return, but it is a win-win situation, even if nothing more is found we already have enough collected and still have one rock waiting in residence by the side of the creek. Anything extra is a bonus and merely more of the same, having said that I would be preferable to add to the stock-take and get a clearer idea of what, where, when and how. For now, up there somewhere is a good start, but it is incredibly steep and the lines on the topographic map are so close to each other.
It was our intention to conclude our investigation into these five rocks with an exact tally of other like sites exhibiting evidence of similar technology that is outside the embrace of any mainstream narrative of pre-Cook Australia we have seen. It is too hard, too many to count and every chance we will forget plenty. Dozens, and not that short of fifty, is a fair guess and if we tried real hard we could possibly stretch it to fifty. The quantity is impressive but superfluous, as one site is sufficient, this site of shaped and cut rocks is enough on its own to rewrite large sections of Original pre-history, and that’s just after one preliminary visit.
The next time around, once all the Original boxes are ticked, should be even more interesting. More on that later …