Africa Pirate coins found off N.T
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  1. #1

    Sep 2013
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    Africa Pirate coins found off N.T

    Press Release: Pirates are the Source of the NT’s African Coins
    January 14, 2017

    Pirates from the Maluku Province of Indonesia were almost certainly the source of the Northern Territory’s African coins says Past Masters co-founder Ian McIntosh in a chapter in a forthcoming book on East African Maritime Cultures.

    Medieval coins from the Swahili sultanate of Kilwa in what is now Tanzania were found by a WW2 serviceman on the Wessels Islands in the 1940s. Since 2010 the Past Masters team has been searching for clues and exploring various hypotheses which would explain this long-standing mystery. How did these ~ 900-year-old coins find their way across the Indian Ocean to north Australia, a distance of over 8000km?

    In light of the significant evidence that the team has gathered from Aboriginal oral history and mythology, European anecdotes from the relevant period, and the interpretation of Wessels’ rock art, McIntosh believes that the coin deposit occurred in the late 1700s. Sailors from the Maluku Province are strongly indicated.

    Pirates and slavers were very active in the waters north of Australia in the pre-colonial and the Portuguese and Dutch colonial periods, with brigands preying upon ships engaged in the East Indonesian trade in spices and other exotic goods. After an attack, they would take refuge in the remote Wessel Islands, hiding out in the many bays and inlets, in the knowledge that that few would seek them there.

    From at least the mid-1700’s Macassan trepangers from Sulawesi were active in the waters to the south of the Wessels along the mainland. They had limited interest in the Wessels chain of islands, however, for they harboured no trepang of commercial value.

    For the brigands, the coins were of value not because of the imprint – in this case the powerful Kilwa Sultan – but for their weight in copper. These had value across the length and breadth of the Maritime Silk Road – from East Africa to India and South-East Asia – and as such were a valuable trade item in themselves.

    Through a series of hands, the Territory’s Kilwa coins found their way from Africa to northern Australia. McIntosh argues that the Portuguese, who had plundered and destroyed Kilwa in the early 1500s, were the principle vector, along with Arab and Persian traders. From the Swahili coast to Goa in India, Malacca, Macassar, Ambon and Aru, the looted coins would have spread rapidly throughout the Indian Ocean world.

    The Wessel Islands have been the scene of many intercultural encounters. For as long as people have had boats, they would have been arriving on the northern strand either with intent to explore or trade, or through misfortune, as in storms. There are so many Yolngu (Aboriginal) narratives speaking to this rich history of visitation and the Kilwa coins just represents one case study. McIntosh urges for more research on the Territory’s long and extraordinary history.

    As part of the ongoing discovery process, the Past Masters have focused on cooperative archaeological and historical programs with traditional owners. One such project acknowledges the the Wessel Islands as the place where the word ‘Australian’ first appears in the historical record. In 1803 British explorer Matthew Flinders made reference in his diary to the indigenous peoples of the Wessels - with whom he had parleyed - as ‘the Australians’.

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  2. #2
    Charter Member
    An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

    Oct 2004
    N. San Diego area (Pic of my two best 'finds'; son and grandson)
    Minelab Explorer
    13154 times
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    Any pics of the coins?
    PS: Never mind; found them: Ancient African coins found in Australia |
    Last edited by Mackaydon; Jan 14, 2017 at 12:39 AM.

  3. #3

    Sep 2013
    CTX 3030 GPX 4500 Garrett Infinium LS 45 inch Coil sled mono
    702 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Thats one. I cant find my other photos atm

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