Owing to time constraints during my first inspection and analysis of Original rocks and sites located within a State Forest (location through direction of Elders will not be given), my intention was to provide a very brief overview. I was first contacted by Silvie Hart who had found a variety of marked stones, stone arrangements and engravings that were what she felt to be the result of Original activity and engraving. What was of immediate concern to her was that when she approached the forestry workers, they openly conceded that the individual rocks and multitude of stone arrangements were not natural and were indeed of Original construction, but regardless they intended to continue down the same destructive path.
Silvie contacted local Elders of the Wakka-Wakka, in particular Aunty Una Appo, and relayed to them what was found and still taking place, then past that point made contact with me and sent photographs of rocks found and sites damaged. I explained that all our archaeological activities are bound by protocol and therefore we needed a formal invitation before accepting her invitation to inspect and record. Soon after I spoke to Aunty Una on the phone which led to a formal request to attend. Due to a rather crowded schedule, which I had to rearrange, I found time on August 3 and 4, but had to leave in the afternoon. As such, it was agreed that this could only be a brief introductory report.
In what follows the paper is broken up into two sections. The first section deals with a small selection from the rocks recovered found in locations already heavily disturbed. The second section relates to what was seen and briefly examined when taken into the State Forest from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm of Saturday by Silvie Hart and Rod Abbott.
Marked and Shaped Rocks
There seems to be a gradation and ascending delineation in the 22 rocks chosen from Silvie’s collection (which runs well into three figures). The rocks selected this time were chosen then broken into four categories, of which each serve a different shared purpose and all three groups require a different form of construction and tools needed.
Category 1: Rock on Rock.
Very easy to identify as they are a common artefact. The six stone flakes/spear points are all made the same way. The small percussion bulbs running around each edge are clearly the result of rock-on-rock impact and the customary method used throughout Australia. They vary in length from 3.5 cms up to 5 cms, two are white, two brown, one red and the other is a grey colour. Granted, although none are remarkable, of themselves what they do establish is an Original presence in this area, and provide a base from which to extend and ascend.
Category 2: Seven Axe-heads in Mint Condition
Before presenting a brief rock by rock analysis there does need to be a consideration made to where all seven ‘axe-heads’ were found by Silvie. All seven were found beside or near a rather imposing carving of what we believe to be an engraved script on the boulder that has a specific meaning. We will in the second section present proof substantiating our belief that the engraving has a feminine meaning and perspective, which has led on to our belief the seven stones that all look so much like men’s axe-heads, were actually never meant to chop or cut but are indeed ceremonial women’s business sacred rocks.
Rock 7: At its widest points it measures 7 cms (height) x 3.5 cms (width) x 3 cms (thickness) and has a very smooth curved blade. The entire rock is very smooth with no pitting, raised sections nor any percussion bulbs. Outside one dramatic point of contact the blade shows no other signs of use or evidence of impact. There are quite a few very fine lines that are all very straight and uniformly hair-width which, when first sighted, I mistakenly put down to be due to striation. Irrespective of what the cause of these hair-width straight lines was, the immediate issue of why this so-called axe was never used remained dominant.
Rock 8: At its widest points this rock measures 10 cms x 5.5 cms x 2 cms and once again has a curved blade that is extremely smooth and shows no evidence of rock-on-rock impact during manufacture. Nor is there any suggestion the blade cut, chopped or even rubbed against anything, and because of this it seems logical to assume that is also unused. But elsewhere it does differ from the first ‘axe’ in that there are twelve percussion bulbs. This rock seems to be a type of basalt, but geology is not our specialty, and that observation needs to be verified. What can be said about all seven of these rocks is that the grain is very fine and very hard, which is a characteristic of nearly all igneous rocks bar pumice.
Rock 9: Atitswidestpointsthisrockmeasures9.5 cms x 9cmsx 4 cms and is unlike any axe or rock we have seen. Trying to count the individual peckings made on both sides of this very symmetrical rock is beyond our talents and patience. Suffice to say it would be, if doable, a four-figured count. Once again, the 5.5 cm curved blade, which has never been used, seems to be the only commonality shared by these ‘axes.’
Rock 10: At its widest points this rock measures 10 cms x 9 cms x 2 cms with another unused unworn curved edge of 7 cms. It also has a large amount of pecking but nowhere near as many as the previous rock. One side is nearly as prolific, but the second side is about half clear of pecks. There has been some rock-on-rock activity with a count of 8 percussion bulbs.
Rock 11: At its widest points this rock measures 10cms x 9 cms x 4 cms, but the markings on the rock are a step into a completely different direction. There are close to one hundred cut straight lines, of which many are barely a hair-width. Some are vertical, some horizontal and others diagonal of varying lengths, with two of these lines continuous in circumnavigating the entire rock. Unless holding a magnifying glass nearly all lines are barely visible. Because they run in all directions and vary so much in length trying to find a natural cause through some form of striation just does not apply. Equally owing to the exceptional thinness of width, these cut lines seem to be beyond the capacity of any rock or bone blade and requires something much harder.
(Unfortunately, the photo of the rock supplied to me is not a close up with lighting and magnification which would have shown incredibly fine straight cutting all over the surface. On my next visit we will bring the appropriate equipment and share those photos in the following report.)
Rock 12: At its widest points this rock measures 10 cms x 9 cms x 3 cms with yet another curved top blade of 7 cms lacking in any indication of percussion bulbs. As is the norm with all seven rocks there is no evidence of use with the blade. As with all the ‘axes’ they seem to be basalt, and this rock is quite smooth and all of the rocks was most likely shaped.
Rock 13: At its widest points this rock measures 11 cms x 7 cms x 2 cms and as with every other rock the curved 4 cm blade is perfectly smooth and clearly never used. However, unlike the other six rocks this rock’s geology is not the same. The grain is small and hard but its colour is a light grey, nowhere near as dark as the other rocks. Outside the clean smooth blade all of the remainder of this rock is unique.
All seven rocks have nothing in common bar sharing an unused blade. Outside sharing an edge that is always lacking in any form of stick, bone and stone technology in construction, what remains varies dramatically in presentation, shape and markings. Now that really does need further reflection as it is normal for one type of stone model to remain a constant throughout each tribal estate. That such a diverse group of stone objects bearing an identical make of blade all found inside one tribal sacred place should mean that everything made on country must obey set patterns and motifs.
That being the Original norm throughout Australia what has been found at this site is beginning to pose more questions, and in the next collection of rocks from Silvie’s collection some answers do begin to appear, but past the uncertainties in manufacture in producing such curved stone blades is the notion of once completed the finished product is destined to never cut or chop. At first glance such a notion seems contradictory to what hunter-gatherer societies are about, everything made has to be useful and assist in staying alive, and very simply spending so much time and skill making something forever sharp and never used, seems a nonsensical proposal.
Rock 13 (a): This rock was found somewhere in N.S.W. and has no connection to the Wakka Wakka, but is absolute proof that the notion that these rocks are sacred and ceremonial and could never be utilitarian is considerably strengthened. Unlike the other seven rocks it is much bigger, and far heavier weighing in at 5.62 kilograms. At its widest points this rock measures 24 cms x 20 cms x 6 cms, while the smooth undamaged and unused curved blade is 17 cms long. Granted this massive rock has a lacquered coat attached which is a step beyond the rocks found in this location, but as it was found in N.S.W. which is thousands of kilometres to the south it both validates this advanced style of rock construction and expands the geographic spread of this mode of manufacture. Most importantly this rock gives weight to our belief rocks like these that seem to be functional axes can also take on a ceremonial role.
Category 3: Shaped and Marked Rocks that Appear to be Beyond the Capacity of all Stick, Bone and Stone Toolkits
Rock 14: Unlike the two heavily marked rocks where close up shots were not supplied, but will be in the next paper, this rock has eight close-up shots of a rock that at its widest points measures 5 cms x 3.5 cms x 1 cm. Although the smallest in the ensemble it has the most individual cut lines, numbering in the hundreds. All five sides (top, bottom and three edges) are heavily marked with predominantly straight lines cut into a dark black thin veneer. In combination the lines are horizontal, vertical, diagonal and occasionally curved and run in every possible direction which negates every possible variation of striation. Equally, it seems that there is a fainter softer bottom coat of older thin lines that has been overlaid by one and possibly two more sessions of heavy cutting. What is also clearly seen is that the patterns and arrangements of each set of five narratives are different. There are also three variations in the width of the cuts and on what we assume to be the bottom side there are three small non-geometric shapes.
That each line is cut into the rock is undeniable, so too is the sophistication in application and the three widths of blade required. However, as to why this rock was so heavily cut over such an extended period is much more open to question, but there is one other rock that comes from a different location that has gone through an almost identical process and is worthy of comparison.
Rock 14 (a): At its widest points this rock measures 6cms x 4cms x 1.5 cms and has over one hundred individual straight cuts. What is unusual is that the cuts were made on a pre-cut palette of two prominent vertical lines and five horizontal lines, all of which are much deeper incisions that any of the many lines applied after the base was created. Because it is a woman’s rock and is divided into seven sections, assuming that this rock had some form of intentional relationship to the Seven Sisters From the Pleiades Dreaming story seems a logical extension. Perhaps each cut is like a ceremonial tally, and as the cuts on this rock are identical to those on Rock 13, it could be that both rocks are used to initiate and record sacred ceremonies performed.
Of course, this is merely a possibility, but when placed into a local perspective that seems to be resonating in Original ceremonies, it does seem to be a reasonable observation to tender for further consideration.
Rock 15: At its widest points this rock measures 10 cms x 9 cms x 3 cms and yes, it is another ‘axe-head’ which has a curved blade of 6 cms. Apart from two small chips which are most likely the result of random impact, the entire rock is covered in a variety of impact points with one heavily chipped area, this rock shows no evidence of intentional use as an axe. These features seem to place it into the same category as the previous seven rocks, but the flat base which is in a perfect alignment to stand upright to take the weight of the rock on a ten-degree lean, is unlike any of the earlier rocks. The rock is not meant to cut or chop, but to stand upright on a lean, whereas the previous seven are holding rocks.
The less damaged side has a variety of cut lines that seem to obey no pattern. They run in a variety of directions and vary in length with two widths of cut numbering just over thirty. The other side is more damaged and has a count of around twenty cut lines. Unlike the earlier non-functional ‘axes’ which all shared a volcanic origin and a much harder surface, this rock is much lighter in colour, coarser in grain and softer. In this case, but certainly not with the earlier rocks, the sharp cuts could be created by another much harder rock like obsidian. That is possible, but knowing that all rocks are found within the same general location, the application of the same set of metal blades on this white rock, or perhaps something more advanced, seems more consistent and likely.
Rock 16: This rock was cut in half. The cut across the spherical base is absolutely 180 degrees flat. There is no deviation, slope or kink in the surface, no machinery or blade of today could do a better job than what is on display, and no-one would ever propose this was done by any variation or extension of a stone, stick and bone tool kit. This rock completely dismisses the participation of any non-advanced tool in the bisection of this rock. The most intriguing aspect of this cut rock is the 30 cms circumference lipping, for 24 cms the lip is sharp and untouched but the last 6 cms has been abraded and rubbed. Clearly it has been used but as to how and what purpose was served is at present a blank sheet, the only tentative offering we have is related to crushing special ochre for use in sacred secret ceremonies.
Rock 16 (a): This rock was also found in N.S.W. and provides solid support in showing the exact spherical cut bisecting this rock is not some sort of obscure geological process. This rock is cut into seven shapes and the cuts are exact utterly straight and all resulting surfaces are just as flat as that on the spherical rock. This rock at its widest points measures 7 cms x 4 cms x 3cms and is very fine grained and quite hard. There is not one infinitesimal trace of an impact point or percussion bulb, all angles and sides were cut, whether by hardened steel blade or further up the technological ‘pecking-order’ is the only point of contention.
Photo by Samarah Wood
Rock 17: Of all the rocks with unused blades this is the biggest and least shaped like an axe. It measures at it widest points 21 cms x 12 cms x 3cms and unlike all other rocks the blade is continuous running around all four sides for over 60 centimetres. Outside two small notches on one side the blade is consistently sharp and neither worn, curved nor damaged. It is quite heavy and oversized for daily use, and as there is no evidence of chopping or cutting, it was never used on any day for that purpose. What is a touch deceptive is a brown coat that seems to be a type of sandstone. However, there are two other small chips barely seen that expose the base rock which is black and possibly is basalt. The thin topcoat is either a natural patina or artificial coat melted and attached.
Rock 18: This rock at its widest points measures 12 cms x 8 cms x 4 cms and although the rock has almost definitely been cut and shaped the resulting design has no parallel beyond not being a weapon. This white fine-grained rock with a smooth coat still remaining in sections is not volcanic in makeup and seems a touch too compact and hard to be sandstone. Again, this is a cut rock, but unlike the geometry and consistent straight hair width lines in some of the ‘axes’ this script is all over the place and alignments. Sometimes the lines are very fine and straight, in other markings it is rough, thick and almost like the blade was used to gouge out sections of rock. Both sides have dozens of markings but even though seemingly erratic in placement both sides are clearly different from each other. In this case, it seems the rock’s only purposes was that of a messenger, a permanent carrier of information and knowledge. What ever this rock does and proclaim, it may seem unique but is not alone and has one known partner.
Rock 18 (a) This comparison rock (8 cms x 4 cms diameter) was found in South Australia, and as with all the comparison rocks validates the credentials and importance of these rocks and also establishes that the technology used is not an isolated tribal event, but a national truth. This rock has a very similar fine white grain and has the same smooth white coat along with 28 individually cut lines of a very fine width and varying lengths. Although far more precise, curved and consistent this comparison rock seems to be cut from the same geological source and confirms once again the validity of what has been found here.
Rock 19: At its widest points this light-reddish brown rock measures 13 cms x 8 cms x 2 cms and although not axe-like in appearance, as it is with an earlier rock this rock has a sharp edge that runs around the rock. It also has an unused sharpened edge along with a cluster of hair-width cut lines and pecks.
Rock 20: At its widest points this rock measures 13 cms x 11 cms x 3 cms, The top and bottom surface is smooth and apart from the assortment of cut-lines there is nothing else on this stone plate, that makes these lines resemble a version of writing on a blank page, and there is no doubt that these stone inscriptions are serving the same purpose. This rock has yet another undamaged smooth curved ‘axe-blade,’ positioned above the hair-width cuttings.
Rock 21: I first chose this rock (6.5 cms x 4 cms x 2 cms) simply because I thought it was an excellent example of the natural process of striation on rocks usually caused in ancient times when glacial masses moved towards the sea the loose rocks were in constant movement and subject to abrasion. The horizontal lines on this rock are very crude and never straight, the exact opposite of Rock 14 lines and many others discussed. However, on the top side of this rock are four very small and thin cut lines, all measure 0.5 cms and are straight and are running in different directions. Because of these four lines, the issue as to whether the other cruder lines are natural is debatable.
Rock 22: This rock measures at its widest points 19 cms x 18 cms x 10 cms and is by far the heaviest rock of the ensemble. It is one section of a very hard compressed sandstone shaped rock that has been extensively shaped and smoothed. On the top side 14 cms has been shaped and abraded into a curved smooth surface that seems to be carrying some residual lacquer, with the untouched section of 5 cms still quite pitted and rough. The other side has also been worked but not to the same stage, with 12 cms being partially smoothed but there is no polish on top. As with the top side 5 cms it was again left in its original setting. The other two smaller sides are both flattened and smooth. In combination we believe this was part of a much larger construction that could be a massive stone bowl, most likely used for ceremonial reasons.
Rock 22 (a) This cut and shaped granite slab (6.5 kgs) was not found in QLD (Queensland) and measures 20 cms x 17 cms x 9.5 cms. It is almost an identical copy in measurements to Rock 22 and was used differently with the top side dealing with engraved women’s business and the bottom side a men’s story. The granite was carved so skillfully and was shaped just as is the case with Rock 22.
Preliminary Observation of 21 Rocks
Twelve of these rocks have smooth curved blades of which all of them present convincing cases none were ever used to chop or cut. They were made from a variety of different types of rocks, and the shape of each ‘axe-like’ construct is different. So too on each rock the markings/lines/pecks/dimensions are not the same. If you take away the six flakes/spear points and analyse the other sixteen rocks chosen which are not tools or weapons, we believe that they all serve ceremonial purposes.
Clearly many of these rocks challenge accepted notions relating to technology during ancient times. With both the perfectly bisected rock and another very small rock with hundreds of cuts requiring a series of blades of exceptional hardness that is beyond the reach of any stick, stone and bone tool kit. In reading between the lines these rocks found in this State Forest seem to be about intense spiritual activities conveyed and transcribed into rock through the use of technology of a highly advanced level. But as to whether there is supporting evidence within the parcel of land we are investigating, that is the focus of the second part of this paper. Granted my visit was limited to four and a half hours, but nevertheless, there were three features of this short investigation that strongly support what was written on and within the rocks.
Although my time was short, I did get to see quite a few rock engravings, but outside acknowledging their presence with intentions to record and position at a later time, my focus was on three other pieces of Original archaeology that tell three stories.
Silvie took me to a very small cave which was 8 metres wide 3 metres deep and half-a-metre high. At first glance the floor was covered in a whitish sand with what seemed a few white rocks scattered across the surface. What was a touch unusual is that the white grains contradicted the colouring and grain size of the surrounding large boulder. But that was a secondary concern, as Silvie began to rummage and sift through the loose surface that same rock count grew exponentially. Within a minute a tally that originally just reached double figures was rapidly getting close to three figures. These white rocks were everywhere inside but nowhere outside. None were larger than eight centimetres and all were exceptionally brittle and so white. Although not clay, it was obvious they would be a fine substitute when using body paint before ceremony. And to have hundreds of one specific colour alone shielded from the elements inside this natural overhang, makes this a perfect protective location, and to store so much implies that the nearby ceremonies were numerous.
Outside red ochre, white ochre is next in the spiritual importance line. When sharing this importance of the colour red both Silvie and Rod told me of their joint discovery of a huge natural vein of red clay ochre. It is to be my first port-of-call if invited back to continue the archaeology still needed. That such quantity and quality of sacred red ochre is also present within the same location adds even more credence to the notion this site is both sacred and ceremonial.
If there was any doubt to this growing conviction that we are on very sacred ground, it literally vanished as Silvie and Rod pulled up beside what seemed to be a small sandy clay mound and nothing else. I did wonder why they brought a leaf-blower when we started off and was even more curious when Rod went back to where his ute was parked and brought back the leaf-blower and then handed it over to Silvie. To begin with once the clay and sand was blown away from a mound that measured about 3 metres in length, 2 metres in width and about half-a-metre high a few quartz crystals began to appear, but this time the concentration hidden below was massive, the further down the less sand and denser the carpet of crystals. There were not hundreds of crystals here, but thousands were hidden and stored. Crystals of this magnitude are only used in ceremony, and due to the incredible quantity, there had to be many important ceremonies conducted nearby. Now what does need to be factored in to this ancient accumulation is that most sacred marked rocks are men’s business and that all sacred crystals are women’s business. What I was looking at right now was women’s business and there was no way I would ever touch them. To look from a distance and record is fine, but as for touching and uncovering, that was Silvie’s business.
What this mound count means, is a fascinating unresolved issue. According to Silvie each of these mounds is a storage device, and inside each mound something of high quality and sometimes quantity is stored to be accessed when the timing and ceremony was appropriate. Obviously, with considerable care each of the many mounds must be accessed, but again this first brief visit was done to establish parameters and provide some basic observations.
Crocodile Writing- it’s a message.
When South Australian Museum’s chief archaeologist, Charles Mountford(1), was supervising the extraction of a two-metre engraved head of a saltwater crocodile from Panaramitee, which esteemed archaeologist Josephine Flood stated had to be engraved at least “75,000 years ago,”(2) Mountford referred to what he had stolen as being a crocodile head. Not only did the Elders object to the theft and removal, so too his description offended, they insisted the engraved script was a set of messages.
That exact same style of crocodile writing was the most dominant and prominent engraving found in this State Forest, and also not only the most numerous but certainly the largest engravings. It was engraved into so many boulders, some passages were metres in width and length. The reason we are so sure it is not a random design is simply because there are Original rocks from various locations that carry the same patterns and interconnected shapes. We have ten much smaller mobile rocks with photographs supplied to add credence to our belief the symbols and lines have a meaning.
We are also supplying photographs of two engravings found in separate locations within this land and what does stand out is that the two engravings are almost identical copies. With the exception of one leg being slightly more sloped, nothing else is different. The chances that almost identical replication is purely a random coincidence is extremely remote at best, but when factoring the ten rocks with the same pattern, there really does need to be an acknowledgement these repeated motifs do have a meaning.
However, even though the other ten rocks come from a variety of states there were two Original written observations provided when some of these rocks arrived in the post. It was stated that the three rocks with crocodile writing are women’s rocks, that they deal with healing the sick and unwell and that also when thrown in a certain manner the resultant pattern can supply descriptions and details that deal with the future. Whether or not the critic agrees these supernatural qualities are genuine is utterly irrelevant, what only counts in all pre-Cook times it is what the Original Wee-uns(3) and Clever-fellas(4) know to be true that is the final word on all such matters.
It is those three qualities and the carvings they carry that led me to suggest that because the seven ‘axe-heads’ were found next a boulder with a huge motif which I believe denotes a women’s business site, they were actually something women used ceremonially. That opinion is just that, but whatever its meaning is what is on display today certainly isn’t the outcome of any natural geological process.
As stated in the introduction this is meant to be a preliminary investigation, there is much yet to be done. On one slope there are dozens of engraved boulders and because this is the most numerous collection of this very important engraving it needs to be mapped, chartered and compared, and maybe even understood. Every raised mound could be natural or could be yet another storage mound, that needs to be investigated. All engravings also must be recorded, positioned and photographed. We chose 22 rocks from a collection that numbers in the hundreds and all of these rocks must be catalogued and photographed. The red ochre deposit has to be investigated, the same for any other ochre caches. There are photographs of neighbours with rocks of undoubted Original origin, and in some cases, indicators of non-stick, stone and bone technology on display, these rocks need to be examined, once permission is obtained.
And of course, first amongst all tasks yet completed is an up-close inspection of the Balancing Rock, that is a must-do. It was Silvie’s photographs of their close encounter with this massive leaning rock that convinced us to come. As to how such a very heavy rock was propped up so as to make room for the insertion and placement of two much smaller rocks which now take the full weight of a rock of many tonnes and is since insertion the only reason this rock could remain steady and upright, that is a question that has no clear explanation. This arrangement of three rocks is artificial, requires very advanced technology to create and is situated a little over twenty kilometres from the land we are examining. Of all the comparison rocks we have presented these three rocks are the most impressive and revealing, and most significantly, located on the same tribal land.
In closing, this land is very sacred, but it is much more. That such a massive deposit of crystals of the highest quality where so much was stored is a huge indicator of women’s secret and ceremonial business, so too do huge deposits of the two most important ochre colours, red and white, reinforce the notion that something very spiritual of the highest level was being accommodated and catered for here. The 21 rocks we chose to focus on first, are all non-utilitarian, neither tools nor weapons, they all travel down more esoteric and mystical paths. Often meant to be held in symbiotic reverence and never meant to be thrown or wielded, these rocks, along with the most repeated design engraved into so many boulders, are each different aspects of the secret sacred ancient business that was conducted within the State Forest for so long until Cook came, and soon after that so much that underpinned Original culture and wisdom was under threat.
(1): Charles P. Mountford: (1890-1976) O.B.E., M.A., Dip. Anthrop. Award winning and pioneering Anthropologist, author, photographer and Australian Indigenous Art researcher. Of the university of South Australia and a founding member of the Anthropological Society of South Australia. Has left quiet a legacy in regards to raising the exposure of Australian Original Art into the global stage and also of anthropological records, data, photographs, recordings, etc.
(2): Josephine Flood, 2004. Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of prehistoric Australia and its people, (JB Publishing: Marleston, South Australia), 180.
(3): Wee-un: An Original female in equivalent to a Clever-fella in respect, stature and powers.
(4): Clever-fella: An Original male advanced in spiritual matters; an Elder who has acquired some form of supernatural power.
Pictures Taken By Silvie Hart: Category 1 & 2, Rocks 7-22.