Chapter Twenty Six.
Baal Worshippers of Katoomba.
For many years now there have been some strange finds coming to light on the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. These consist of ancient rock inscriptions suggesting an Egypto-Phoenician and Celtic presence in this area during Bronze-Age times. Certainly we are dealing with explorer-colonists from the Gosford colony, seeking to expand the territory of their kingdom further inland.
At Katoomba, during the 1970s I found a number of fading rock engravings overlooking the Jamieson Valley. These I realised were undoubted Bronze-Age Phoenician and Celtic scripts.
One Phoenician inscription translated as:
“This people from Gaza.
The shrine is pleasing to the Sun-God”.
Near this I found two more. One, in Celtic ogham briefly stated:
“My name is Dainwin”.
The other, in Phoenician read:
“Gi-hu an Elder sacrificed a serpent on the Day of Baal”.
Earlier of course, in March 1969, my late father, Mr W. F. [Bill] Gilroy, recovered the hand-forged iron adze blade of Egyptian origin at Lapstone Gorge, already described in chapter 23. This was, however not the first mystery relic in this area. During 1851 when the Lapstone Gorge section of railway line was being constructed workmen unearthed a number of stone images of non-Aboriginal appearance. Rather they are said to have resembled Egyptian deities. The eventual fate of these images is not known.
In 1977 Blue Mountains City Council workmen, while digging a pipeline trench near Katoomba Falls, at a depth of 3m beneath ancient sediments, in the manner of the Lapstone Gorge adze, unearthed a small black stone of a type alien to the region’s geology.
The stone bore four small engraved letterings. When the stone was later given to me, I immediately recognised the symbols as Phoenician. They spelt a name: “Tufi”.
In February 1999 another Phoenician inscribed stone was found about 2km away near the Katoomba Golf Course by myself.
I had been exploring dense clifftop scrub overlooking the Megalong Valley, when emerging onto the roadside of Cliff Drive, [a scenic road that branches off the Great Western Highway to follow the edges of the Megalong and Jamieson Valleys for some kilometres], I chanced to see, partly exposed from hard dirt, a slab of ironstone which appeared to bear engraved letterings.
Extracting it carefully from the ground by digging with a stick, I was soon able to see that it was engraved on one side with Phoenician script.
Taking it home I washed and measured it. The stone was 22.5cm in
length by 14.5cm wide. The inscription read:
“Sidah of Kush”.
Kush was a Negro kingdom to Egypt’s south, until it was annexed by Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, which began about 2281 BC. A major source of gold for the Pharaohs, Phoenicians actively traded with the Kushites before and after this event and had established trading centres there. The relics thus far presented demonstrate that Bronze-Age Phoenicians, Egyptians and Celts had somehow found their way across the Blue Mountains.
How they accomplished this feat is remarkable, considering that our traditional history identifies the three British explorers Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson as having been the ‘first’ to cross this formidable range in 1813. The ancient explorer-colonists might have at first made the same mistakes as the later British, in trying to work their way across through the valleys, only to come up against impassable cliffs. Then, either through their own commonsense, or with the help of Aborigines they had befriended, they were able to cross by following the tops of the ridges.
It seems that they followed much the same way as the later British explorers of 1813, for today a trail of relics is coming to light which traces their movements as far as Katoomba, thence on through Blackheath to Mt Victoria, from where they were able to find their way down a gully to enter Hartley Valley, from where further investigations beyond Wallerawang and Hampton would have brought them into good gold and copper deposits, especially around the Bathurst district.
Heather and I had been married eleven months when, in October 1973, while exploring below cliffs at Mt Victoria near where we lived at the time, we stumbled upon some remarkable faded rock engravings on a vertical rockface. The rock art consisted of two figures. One an 85cm tall image, 28cm in width towards its base and 19cm across its waist, the head measured 18cm in width and was surmounted by a Sun-Disc 7cm in width. Upon the chest was what appeared to be an ornament, as with the second figure.
The first figure could be a depiction of the Sun-God, Ra. The second, horned-headed figure on the other hand, measured 64cm in height including a semi-circle of small hollows above it, thought to depict stars. It measured 37cm width at the waist. A bird with outstretched wings at the base of the figure measured 22cm width by 8cm tall. The figures’ head was 19cm width, that of the semi-circle of stars being 77cm.
This image we though, could have been a depiction of the Moon-Goddess, Isis. Yet at the time we thought them to be crude imitations of these Egyptian deities by another people, whoever they were. Our discoveries of Egypto-Phoenician mixed script and artworks was still some years in the future. Today we recognise these images as the works of a mixed racial group that had been isolated from the homeland and its cultural influences for so long, that individual art styles, like the scripts, had become merged to take on increasingly new forms.
Perhaps a small shrine or even a temple had once been established there, around which a small settlement might have grown.
Once the explorers saw there were no precious metals to be had on the Blue Mountains escarpment, settlements established at various points along the way would have aided bands of miners and their families moving west, and the shipment in oxen-drawn carts of precious metals from mining sites established just west of the Blue Mountains. The construction of roads for these purposes would have been a necessity.