New Historian

Aboriginal Rock Art Discovered in Suburban Sydney

<![CDATA[The discovery of Aboriginal rock art in a Sydney suburb has just been made public. The artwork was discovered near a freshwater creek in Sydney's north shore area, only a short distance from local suburban houses. The various motifs, which were hidden behind vegetation, were uncovered by employees of Sydney Water tasked with finding, cataloguing and preserving sites carrying special significance to the Aboriginal community. The team had been alerted to the possibility of finding something of archaeological significance after finding a traditional fishing hook in the area. The numerous drawings depict eels, a spearhead and a crescent-shaped moon alongside more than 20 red and white hand stencils. The hand prints were created by people mixing coloured clay with water in their mouths, then spraying it over their hands whilst they were pressed against the rock. Land Council CEO Nathan Moran said that the artwork could have been created by the Kamerigal people, a clan of the Eora nation. If this is correct, the paintings could be up to 20,000 years old. The area around Sydney is rich in Aboriginal sites, but "hand stencils are rare in Sydney," Mr Moran told the Daily Telegraph Australia. "The area is known more for its rock engravings so this is a significant archaeological and cultural discovery." Work is now underway to protect the site, making sure that it will remain part of the cultural landscape. "Our role now is to protect and preserve this site so we can share it with future generations," Mr Moran said. The site where the artwork was found had been used for thousands of years as a campsite, because it offered shelter and is near a waterhole that could have provided fishing opportunities. Motifs depicting eels and hunting reveal everyday scenes in the lives of the people who used the location. Sydney Water's archaeologist Yvonne Kaiser-Glass, however, has suggested that the watering hole may have had a different purpose. "This area may have been a birthing site for Aboriginal people because it's so close to a freshwater supply," she told the Daily Telegraph Australia. Judging from the size, some of the hand stencils appear to have been made by women and children. It is quite possible the stencils were made by mothers and their children, commemorating the place where they underwent labour. It is unclear whether anyone knew about the artwork before it was discovered. Surrounding the Aboriginal art is modern graffiti, with the names of music groups Metallica and Guns and Roses painted close to the ancient designs. Neither the Land Council, nor Sydney Water, are revealing the exact location of the find and members of the press have been sworn to secrecy over the location. The groups' clandestine approach is intended to preserve the artwork, which has the withstood ravages of storms and wildfires, against damage from curious members of the public. The Aboriginal artwork found at north shore is an important artefact from the oldest continuous culture on Earth. Such is the importance of Aboriginal artefacts that desecration of an Aboriginal heritage site can attract fines of up to $1.2M Australian.]]>

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