The Colony of Ham – Ancient Miners of Toowoomba.
All removable rock inscriptions described in this chapter were removed for safekeeping and research by the authors.
Down the coast from Tin Can Bay lies Brisbane. Here the river of that name flows inland from the coast to turn northward near Ipswich. North of Ipswich it branches off to become the Bremer River to flow through Plainlands, Lowood and Gatton about 10km from Ipswich. Until the coming of the railway in the 1870s brought faster transportation of goods to the city, steamers made regular trips up the Brisbane River to Ipswich, to collect ore from the mines and farm produce from Toowoomba and the Darling Downs beyond.
The Toowoomba district, besides gold, silver and lead is rich in tin and gemstones such as Olivine crystals, sapphires, garnets, zircons agate and jasper.
There are also numerous signs that the district was mined in antiquity. Traces of open-cut mining occur around Toowoomba and Phoenician rock inscriptions have been found in the vicinity of remnants of ancient shrines at Lowood, while other inscribed stones have been recovered around the former shoreline of an extinct lake system once fed by the Bremer River at Plainlands, and which probably drained away about the same time as the Tin Can Bay/Gympie/Murgon Harbour.
We postulate that an expedition of Middle-East miners, principally Phoenicians, probably from the Gympie colony, found the mouth of the Brisbane River, and sailed inland as far as the present site of Lowood, where a field search turned up gemstones, gold and tin. They would have been attracted to the area by the rich supply of good timber needed for ship repairs as well as the construction of new vessels, and the fertile soil ideal for crop-growing.
Once word of the new discovery reached Gympie other colonists would have been dispatched, and soon mining communities were established at Plainlands, Lowood and Toowoomba. Contact might also have eventually been established overland between Gympie and the new colony.
As with all the other far-flung colonies established across the continent, networks of roads had to have been constructed, for the transportation of ores from the widely-scattered mining operations to smelting sites, by convoys of oxen-drawn carts from where the extracted minerals were transported to loading wharfs on the Bremer River. From here these rich cargoes would have been carried to the coastal base settlement, which would have been established at the mouth of the Brisbane River in the wake of the inland mineral/gemstone discoveries.
From the Brisbane settlement the mineral-carrying ships would have transported their treasure to the main base at Gympie, from where great fleets of triremes would have regularly sailed for the Red Sea ports via India, where much of this mineral wealth would have found its way into merchant’s hands through trade.
It is also very likely that, in the wake of the massive growth of the Australian colonies, and the establishment of local ruling classes to govern the massive populations, these Australian Pharaohs [and there were Phoenician monarchs in some areas], may have eventually severed all political ties with Egypt, to create their own Egypto-Phoenician empire; an empire that extended beyond Australia to include the colonies in New Guinea, island Melanesia and New Zealand! Local power struggles were inevitable as individual rulers strove to enlarge their territories to add further valuable mineral-bearing regions to their domains.
It is certain that vast numbers of people from Egypt and its allies were resident in Bronze-Age Australia, living in mining colony kingdoms often of vast extent, which as rock inscriptions are revealing, had names. Many rock inscriptions hint that all was often not well politically, with wars fought over mineral sites, just as modern wars are fought over oil and mineral deposits for individual economical reasons between nations on a more global scale!
In 1993 we learnt that a Toowoomba farmer had on his property discovered a large sandstone pillar bearing a strange relief carving.
When Heather and I were shown the relic in August that year, I realised that the carving was actually two – a serpent and an egg beneath. The Serpent and Egg was symbolic of the birth of the Sun from the Cosmic Egg and a Sun worship symbol of the ancient Middle-East peoples.
The Serpent also stood for the Sun-God as the bringer of life on earth. The Egg being the Cosmic Egg laid by the Serpent, who also represented the water; the waters representing the Mother of Natures’ life, the Serpent being the creation.
The ‘pillar’ once stood upright upon a platform of sandstone blocks long since crumbled away. We measured the stone, which was 2.1m long by 1.4m and 1.6m wide at the base, and 1.7m wide at the middle. The Serpent and Egg were carved vertically upward. The pillar came to a round point, but this was partly buried in the soil. The Serpent measured 70cm in length by 45cm wide across the body and the Egg was 54cm in diameter. The carvings were cut 12.6cm in relief out of the stone.
At the time of our inspection of this ancient stele, a search of nearby dense undergrowth resulted in the discovery of remains of crude stonework forming a crumbled wall. It appeared to us that the site of the ‘Serpent stele’ had been a ceremonial gathering place.
Fate led us to stay with a farmer friend at Lowood in February 1994. Within 20 minutes of arrival at this forest covered property near the Bremer River, I left the farmhouse for a quick bushwalk before sunset.
I had not left the house 10 minutes before an impulse to leave the track I was following, led me among shrubbery. There lying on the ground was a hand-sized slab of sandstone, the setting sun casting shadows upon engraved symbols, which I immediately recognised as Phoenician script.
I spent most of that night translating the symbols, which covered both side of the stone.
The glyphs on the topside read:
“Guard the shrine of Yahweh’s message” and on the back “God of Gods”. The inscription was old Canaanite [Yahweh, an ancient Semitic storm god, was worshipped from around 3000 BC].
Still excited, the next morning I returned to the location of the ‘Yahweh stone’ and following the track for a kilometre I entered an expanse of river flats. Chancing to look down at my feet I saw a rock bearing unmistakable engraved symbols. Roughly about the same size as the other stone, it too bore Canaanite Phoenician script engraved upon four sides.
The inscription read: “This is the place of worship of the Eye of Ra the Sun-God. Assemble here to worship the Sun”.
The ‘messages stone’ led me on enthusiastically to a nearby ancient land slip. Here I came upon massive tumbled sandstone blocks. Upon the side of one of these I found Phoenician glyphs in old Canaanite stating:
“Assemble at this shrine”.
Excitedly searching about the area, climbing a scrub covered hillside overlooking the fallen stonework, I found further large stones on the summit, arranged in a square formation, being part of a larger structure, much of which had long ago fallen to the base of the hill through soil erosion. Before long Heather and I were searching the surrounding rocky scrubland. We soon uncovered a number of ancient open-cut mining sites in the surrounding tree-covered gullies; mines from which we found that a rich hoard of agate had been extracted. This area contains rich agate deposits.
Gold and copper also occur hereabouts, although the ancient miners would have been attracted to the vast deposits to be had further west beyond the Toowoomba escarpment.
In the wake of the great many rock inscriptions that we would soon unearth hereabouts on the Bremer River, it was fortunate that, over the years I had taught myself epigraphy [ie the translation of ancient scripts], specialising in Phoenician, Egyptian, Libyan and Celtic. As already mentioned earlier in this book, I am able to translate the Uru script. Yet this feat was a labour of trial and error which took me 28 years, whereas in learning how to translate Middle-Eastern and Celtic scripts I have had the benefit of available epigraphic literature on these languages.
From the initial 1994 discoveries over the next two years we would turn up forty inscribed stones from the Lowood River flats. Some of these bore ‘votive offering’ messages for long-vanished shrines or temples. The inscriptions reveal something of the daily lives of these ancient miners and their families. Religion held an important place in their lives, as revealed in the votive offering inscriptions, particularly the mariners as the following translations reveal:
“Hanab, son of Hulag the elder, erected an image of Baal, and
made a personal sacrifice of an animal for a safe voyage, to the
Sun-God at the temple. Witnessed by Iwasi”
[The above inscription had been engraved on a large sandstone rock which had broken in two through ages of exposure, the pieces eventually becoming separated about 18.3m apart. I found the pieces an hour apart in the course of exploring the river flats].