Chapter Thirty Two.
Egyptian Mineral-Hunters of the Flinders Ranges.
To the ancient Egyptians the Underworld did not always signify the afterworld of the dead, but the lost paradise of Kenti-Amenti, the fabled “Land of the Gods”, possessing riches beyond belief. This was one great incentive to attract the treasure-seeking fleets of the Bronze-Age Pharaohs into Australian waters.
We have already seen that mineral-seeking fleets of colonists penetrated the Murray River at its mouth in Encounter Bays’ Victor Harbour. During our August 1999 expedition to Central Australia, Heather and I stopped overnight at Wilcannia on the Darling River.
We arrived as the sun was beginning to sink in the west, but on a ‘hunch’ I had Heather drive along a river road to the north. At a point where we reached an ancient dried-up course of the Darling I asked Heather to stop. Something led me to walk up onto the former south bank of this extinct course. It was then, among the many scattered, ancient water-worn pebbles littering the ground that I spotted a squarish, broken brown stone, displaying what appeared to be weathered glyphs, revealed by the setting sun’s shadow.
The glyphs were undoubted Phoenician and I quickly showed my find to Heather. It was now getting too dark to see much so we stayed the night at the town’s one and only motel. We discovered that the town was dying, only two shops and the hotel were still going, all the rest of the businesses had closed down and those without smashed windows were boarded up. Drunken Aborigines and louts were the problem we were told by the motel owner, who advised us to lock ourselves in!
I busied myself with my latest find. The stone was 11cm in width and 11.5cm tall
and 6cm thick. The inscription stated:
“Habakuk discovered this land for Shishonk”.
This was a remarkable discovery for more than one reason. During September 1998 we had discovered a large mineralised lump of volcanic tufa, engraved in a lengthy Phoenician inscription in which this Pharaoh was named, at a stone circle temple site outside Tauranga, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
For various reasons to be discussed when we cover the New Zealand evidence anon, we believe this Shishonk was Pharaoh Shishonk the 1st, who reigned in Egypt at the same time that King Solomon ruled in Judea [about 950 BC].
The Wilcannia inscription suggests that further investigations in this area could turn up more evidence of ancient colonisation. The discovery of this little inscription is further evidence that ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and their allies, frequently voyaged up the Murray River to explore the Darling. In the course of these river voyages they had to have investigated the south-eastern South Australian countryside for precious metals and gemstones.