Chapter Twenty Seven.
Sydney’s Forgotten Phoenician Farmers.
The colonists of Be-row-ra had to have been familiar with Port Jackson and Botany Bay just to the south, penetrating their rivers to find good farming land in what are now the Parramatta, Blacktown and Liverpool districts. It would not have taken long for contact to have been made with the Nepean farming communities further west, as well as those of the Hawkesbury district.
It may now be next to impossible to uncover any structural remains of Egypto-Phoenician settlements of the Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay areas, for these would now lie deep beneath modern skyscrapers, factories and general land development. Yet hidden away in secluded sandstone inlets and creeks perhaps there still survive ancient rock scripts awaiting rediscovery.
In recent years the Georges River, which winds west then southward from Botany Bay, still contains much undeveloped riverfront sandstone and scrub which, in recent years, has revealed some rock inscriptions and ruins, which speak of wide-scale colonisation for the purpose of cereal and crop-growing, as well as the breeding of cattle on a grand scale, all of which was needed to feed this massive kindgom, whose mines of gold, copper, silver and other precious metals, continued to increase the power and wealth of its God-Kings down through the generations.
The countryside extending inland from the banks of the Georges River had no precious metals to offer, but it did hold another kind of wealth highly valued in the ancient world, wood. Great forests of giant gum trees covered the landscape; wood needed for shipbuilding and repair work, and as material for the construction of homes.
The gum from these and other trees when dried became among other things, incense for temple ceremonies, and the leaves of the eucalyptus trees provided resin employed in the embalming of the dead [in Egypt from around 1000 BC onwards]. It is obvious that massive quantities of eucalyptus were processed in Australia and shipped home to Egypt over the centuries. Eucalyptus, as an oil or resin, also had medicinal and other uses.
It would be interesting to know just how much knowledge of local botany was acquired by the Egyptians and their allies here, for medicinal and other purposes. Besides the papyrus plants grown here by them, other similar water plants might possibly have been employed by the Egyptians for the production of paper, needed for record keeping.
Branching northward from the river near Riverwood is Salt Pan Creek, a deep, wide mangrove-lined waterway overlooked by sandstone cliffs. During December 2000 our then Riverwood based field assistant, Ann Taylor, accompanied me on a search there, having earlier recommended the creek as a likely place to look for rock carvings, after finding some strange engravings there on a previous visit.
Heather drove us to a small parking spot on the eastern end of the Salt Pan Creek bridge, over which Henry Lawson Drive passes, where she decided to stay with the car.
Once over the bridge we reached the cliffs of the west side of the creek. Ann’s hunch soon paid off for us. The strange images found on her earlier visit were within a circular cutting.
There were undoubted Phoenician letterings, an “Eyes of the Sun” and serpent symbol, as well as a right hand on the outside edge of the circle, its thumb and forefinger holding a tiny circle, which other symbols beside it identified as a piece of harvested grain. There was also the image of a large, emu-looking bird and what appeared to be its eggs. To the right outer edge of the circle were glyphs spelling a name “Maia”. After recording this find, looking around I soon afterwards discovered another set of carvings in the form of a ship image and letters spelling “Alama”. I reckoned the simple translation here would be “Alama’s ship”.
There had to be more rock scripts here, but the afternoon light was beating us, so as soon as we had carried out the usual recording procedure, we left to rejoin Heather. There is still much work for us to do hereabouts in the future. I realised this from the translation of a drawing of the circle inscriptions I made that night.
“We settlers have grown grain,
[the Eyes of the Sun Baal] and harvested it.
We have hunted and captured and bred the
giant birds for their eggs on this land
in the space of once year.
A victory for our people.
Recorded by Maia”.
Here was evidence to me that a farming community had been established up that creek. Surely others had also existed at other points along the river I pondered, as earlier, in May 1994 at Tillott’s Hill, above Prospect Creek [which flows north from the Georges River]. I had unearthed three Phoenician inscribed mudstone slabs. Their translations at the time proved interesting also.
One message stated:
“An expedition of ships have sailed
on this river to land here”.
Another, incomplete message read:
“The land of Baal the Sun-God”.
The third simply stated:
“The land beyond the sunset on the Winter Sun*”,
Yet the circular engraving site discovered by Ann was of special interest, for here was information of Emu farming to obtain their eggs. They were growing and harvesting grain, obviously on land far back from the creek now covered by modern housing; and as the inscription said, all this had been achieved in the space of a year.
“Maia” had recorded this information in stone around 3,000-4,000 years ago, when locally-ordained Pharaohs ruled the kingdom of Be-row-ra from a long-vanished official residence that once stood overlooking Brisbane waters, from where they dispatched fleets of ships on riches-seeking voyages.
Ann’s find told me that the Salt Pan Creek colonists practiced animal husbandry, by capturing alive and breeding emus and gathering their eggs as another food source.
And the “Alama’s ship” inscription shows that this creek once sheltered vessels sailing in or out of nearby Botany Bay. Obviously quite a sizeable community had been established here.