Temple Builders of Ancient Proserpine.
It was another of my famous ‘hunches’ that led Heather and I to drive “Off the beaten track”, while passing through Proserpine on our way north on Thursday 18th July 2000. It was to become an important date in our lives, for on that day we would uncover the first of many surprise relics, which today reveal the Proserpine district as another major colony of the Bronze Age mineral-seekers.
Exploring up a dirt track, we parked the car in a clearing surrounded by jungle. From here a narrow pathway continued on around the side of a high, rocky hill. At one point leaving the path we worked our way through the mass of vines and foliage to eventually reach the summit, where lying scattered among the jungle growth, half covered by fallen dead leaves and bracken, we found the remains of collapsed basalt walls. A closer inspection soon resulted in the discovery of undoubted Phoenician engravings.
We had decided to leave the path to search this particular area of jungle for no apparent reason, and as a result had stumbled upon another ghostly link with Australia’s ‘lost’ history.
Measurement of the site would have to wait until another visit due to a pressing time schedule elsewhere, but it was obvious that the scattered stoneworks covered an extensive area, of what had in ages past been open ground overlooking the ocean to the east. From what we could detect from the scattered rubble, the ancient stoneworks lay on an east-west axis.
At the eastern end we uncovered a 3m by 3m wide stone-lined hole, nearby which were tumbled remains of a rubble wall. Nearby these ruins we entered a clearing on the north side of the hill’s summit. Here lying scattered, and partly buried in the ground, I spotted a number of small basalt slabs and a strangely-shaped rock or two.
My eagle eye observed unusual markings on some so we dug them out for a closer look. Upon cleaning the dirt from them we realised that we had unearthed no less than eighteen stones inscribed in Phoenician script. One of these stones turned out to be a crude image of Baal. Measuring 24cm tall by 11cm width and 8cm thick, this little idol bore glyphs on its back and right side stating “Baal gathers together his life-giving rays of sunlight”.
The other stones were engraved with votive offering messages. Obviously we had uncovered an ancient temple.
Our later translations of the inscriptions on these votive offering stones revealed some interesting requests of the ancient worshippers.
The first two requests showed that the ancient colonists had more on their minds
than digging precious metals. One request was to Baal:
“To the Sun, make my phallus swell and stand erect”.
The other was to the Egyptian Goddess Isis and asked:
“Isis make me swell – Irala”.
Another Phoenician inscription read:
“Gavin, a son of Ra, to him…
[Side two] …
Here on this ground an offering is made.
Make the water increase”.
It immediately became clear to me that we had uncovered a communal temple, built and worshipped at by a racially mixed population of Phoenician and Egyptian colonists; men and women who lived here so long that they had developed a mixed culture. That we had found requests to Ra and Isis engraved in Phoenician script was nothing new, as it implied that some Egyptian workers were probably illiterate and had either asked a priest skilled in Phoenician to engrave their requests in his language, or else there were Phoenician converts to Egyptian deities.