The Mummification Mystery.
The reader can pursue the ancient Egyptian mummification process further in any number of books on ancient Egypt, such as that listed in the Bibliography.
The Penshurst, NSW, fossil impression of a boomerang is in the authors possession.
Since I was a young schoolboy at Villawood Primary School in the mid-1950s I have been fascinated by the civilisations of the past. And, in 1957 when I went to Liverpool Boys High School, I soon found the school library possessed a wealth of such literature, which I devoured with enthusiasm.
I grew up on my parents’ bushland farming property at nearby Lansvale, which lies between these two western Sydney suburbs on the Georges River, which winds past my former home, skirting Liverpool on its way southward past Campbelltown and beyond. I can still recall how, at age seven, I often stood on that river’s bank at Lansvale, imagining ancient Arabian dhows and Spanish pirate ships sailing along that river. How could I have known back then how true these visions were!
Today the spread of suburbia and factories has long since covered this former beautiful farm and bushland setting, and the river from Lansvale to Liverpool dug out for sandmining, creating a great, ugly, polluted lake effecting the rest of this tidal river, which from its mouth at Botany Bay, undoubtedly provided access inland for many of the ancient explorer-colonists with which this book is concerned.
As will be shown further on in this book, rock scripts revealing an extensive Bronze-Age Egyptian and Phoenician presence on the Georges River is coming to light. In fact, the reader will learn in the course of these chapters, that there was hardly a coastal river system and its inland offshoots that were not explored by the ancient mineral-seekers in their quest for riches.
Following my parents’ move to Katoomba on the Blue Mountains in 1958, it was not long before the poor Katoomba High School librarian began to be pestered by me for books on ancient civilisations. He was able to breath a sigh of relief when I left school at age 15 at the end of 1958. Yet, by then I had discovered the Blue Mountains to be a vast region containing many mysteries of our ancient past.
Hereabouts in the years ahead I would turn up not only strange Aboriginal rock art depicting enigmatic images of mystery visitors and their ships far pre-dating European settlement; I also found other rock engravings of apparent Egyptian, Phoenician, even Celtic origin, and eventually, would also uncover the first traces of the Uruan civilisation. These early discoveries led me upon a quest which continues to this day – now joined by my wife and fellow field worker, Heather – to uncover the hidden history of Australia.
I had discovered very early in my researches, particularly through the perusal of old volumes of early archaeologists and historical researchers, that a ghostly chain of Sun-worship, mummification and their associated rites and beliefs, extended from the Middle-East to India, and then on through island southeast Asia, New Guinea and Australia and the Melanesian island chain to New Zealand, and on through the Pacific Islands to the Americas.
Yet, early in my career as a cultural diffusionist, I was unaware of the scorn which such theories arouse in academia, and as I was impudent enough in their eyes to publish an article in a Sydney suburban newspaper, on the likelihood that ancient Egyptians had sailed Australasian waters 3,000 or more years ago, I was suddenly and quite viciously attacked, in the media by more than one irate university-based historian who dismissed my theory out-of-hand.
As I would learn in the years ahead, this was merely a curtain-raiser! It would become quite clear to me that the Australian conservative university-based historical ‘establishment’ were diametrically opposed to any theory or evidence, that this continent had been known and visited, even colonised, by maritime peoples from the ancient world, centuries before the arrival of the ‘first’ European explorers from the early 17th century onwards.
These were of course the Dutch mariners and Lieutenant James Cook RN , yet as my book “Pyramids in the Pacific” shows, there were even earlier, Spanish, Portuguese and French contacts stretching back into the 16th century, and well before them, mediaeval European monks, traders and others who had found their way here.
To this day our researches, despite the overwhelming mass of rock inscriptions, megalithic monuments, pyramids and other relics being continually uncovered by Heather and I, academic hostility to this evidence of our ‘unwritten’ history continues unabated.
In the previous chapter we have seen that eucalyptus resin was being employed by the Egyptians in the mummification process of their dead from around 1000 BC onwards. As this commodity could only have been obtained from Australia and New Guinea, this fact alone suggests that these peoples were more than mere casual visitors to our shores.
From a study of early 20th and 19th century anthropological writings on the subject during the 1980s and 1990s, Heather and I uncovered detailed descriptions of a number of apparent variations on the Egyptian methods, formerly practiced by ancient peoples of south-east Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia and south America, always associated with one form of Egyptian-style Sun-worship or another. And in Australia, wherever remains of extensive, long-term mining and colonisation by Bronze-Age Egyptians and their allies is found, we have discovered that crude forms of mummification existed among the former Aboriginal people of those regions.
In the early 20th century Sir, Grafton Elliot Smith, one-time Professor of Anthropology at Manchester University, discovered evidence of Egyptian influence in the cultures of the New Guinea natives, going back at least 2,000 years. He recognised similarities in their art and in many of their philosophies, beliefs and rites, including Sun-worship and mummification. To this day the islanders still carve wooden human-bodied deities with bird beaks and horns surmounting the disc of the Sun or Moon – figures which are remarkably like carved deities of ancient Egypt.
Turing to Australia, we find that similar rites and beliefs are current among Aboriginal tribespeople of the far north-west.
During 1931 Professor A.P. Elkin, then Professor of Anthropology at Sydney University, during a field study of Aboriginal tribes of the north-west Kimberley region of Western Australia came upon a strange tribe that had supposedly never before seen a white man. Not only was the Professor astounded when tribal elders greeted him with secret Masonic hand signs, he was struck by the startlingly Egyptian features present in the natives.
Professor Elkin also discovered that the natives worshipped the Sun, that they also had an Earth Mother and Rainbow Serpent cult, and mummified their dead. From a study of their language Professor Elkin later discovered that many of the words spoken by the tribespeople were of Egyptian origin.
These findings led Professor Elkin to conclude that, at sometime in the distant past, the Aboriginal culture of the north-west Kimberley region had been influenced from outside Australia – that is by colonists from the land of the Nile.
Ninety-three years before Elkin’s visit, explorer George Gray [later knighted] explored the Kimberley region and discovered similar features in native culture. He also became the first European to discover the now famous Wandjina cave paintings of human figures clothed in garments unknown to the primitive tribespeople. The garments depicted on these figures resemble those once worn by ancient Egyptian and Phoenician seafarers.
Local Aboriginal legend states that the Wandjina came from across the Indian Ocean in large vessels. They lived among the natives for a long time, giving them much of their language as well as other elements of their culture, including mummification, with its associated rites and beliefs. The Wandjina intermarried with the natives, producing many ‘spirit children’. Eventually they sailed off across the ocean to the west whence they had come, promising to return.
From our research in the 1970s, Heather and I were able to gather a considerable amount of evidence of an Egyptian influence in the mummification rites and beliefs of the former northern Australian Aboriginal tribespeople, Torres Strait Islanders, as well as the peoples of New Guinea and island Melanesia.
For example, a prominent belief of the Arnhem Land tribes was that, when the soul leaves the body at death, it journeys in a canoe across the path of the Sun to the afterlife. This myth was a feature of the mummification rites of northern Australian tribes as well as Torres Strait Islanders.