Historical Change

In 1944, Australia was at war. As part of the British Empire it was fighting against Nazi Germany. Australia was also battling Imperial Japan. To protect the north, a radar station was put on MarchinbarIsland, only a few kilometres from the north coast of the Australian mainland. That year a soldier manning the station found nine coins while fishing. Four of the coins were of Dutch origin while the other five came from the Kilwa sultanate. Located in modern day Tanzania, its heyday was in the 12th to the 14th century, long before Europeans had reached this part of the world.

How did the coins from a former African port reach Australia? Professor Ian McIntosh, an anthropologist at Indiana University, explained to The Word that researchers are looking at 15 hypotheses.

“The most recent hypothesis is that before there was Tanzania there was a German colony called Tanganyika. It was a German colony just as Papua New Guinea was a German colony. There was communication between these two. So if the German’s are in Kilwa and they’re also in the waters just north of Australia, this is a possibility too,” Professor McIntosh said.

Other possibilities are that the coins were brought by Arabic traders or even the Portuguese or Dutch. One thing is for certain the Kilwa traders did not bring them.

Today Kilwa is a ruin. However, from the 1100s to 1400s it was a major centre of trade along the east African coast, not to mention an important crossroad of Persian, Arabic and Bantu culture. This blend of cultures even created a new language – Swahili. The sultanate’s end came because of the Portuguese. They attacked the city in 1505 so there would be a more Portuguese friendly ruler. Kilwa never returned to its former glory.

So why is the find important to modern Australian history? It does one of two things. First it refocuses attention on Indian Ocean trade. Professor McIntosh pointed out that Europeans tend to focus on transatlantic trade, ignoring what happened further south.

Secondly, the coins complicate the simple picture of Australian history. The history many people learn at school is that after millennia of isolation, Australia became part of the modern world by Europeans. The coins say again what historians have recently said. This isn’t true. Professor McIntosh called this Eurocentric view which focused on Captain Cook and the three Dutchmen: Abel Tasman, Dirk Hartog and Willem Janszoon, “abysmal”.

Here, the Professor uses ‘alive’ to mean there are many references

.

“When you look at the Northern Territory which is my area you see this range of contacts with many different people over an immensity of time. We don’t know who they are but the place names and mythology from the north east Arnhem Land area is alive with references to meetings with others.”

If we say someone is ‘scratching their head’ we don’t mean literally. The phrase means they are confused about something.

For example, on the islands visited are legends about men dressed in mirrors, which could be a reference to the armour but whose identity leaves historians scratching their heads. The researchers also found 100 sites linked to foreign contact on those islands, metal items, rock art which shows seafaring craft and remnants of a ship. You can see photos of the expedition on their FaceBook page.

Unfortunately, they didn’t turn up any more coins. One thing is for certain. Another expedition will be done.

“We’re now going to team up with the Indiana University Office of Underwater Science and we’re going to look for shipwrecks.”

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Word List Bubble

Historical Change Quiz: Medium

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Historical Change Quiz: Medium.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

In 1944, Australia was at war. As part of the British Empire it was fighting against Nazi Germany. Australia was also battling Imperial Japan. To protect the north, a radar station was put on Marchinbar Island, only a few kilometres from the north coast of the Australian mainland. That year a soldier manning the station found nine coins while fishing. Four of the coins were of Dutch origin while the other five came from the Kilwa sultanate. Located in modern day Tanzania, its heyday was in the 12th to the 14th century, before Europeans had reached Australia.

How did the coins from a former African port reach Australia? Professor Ian McIntosh, an anthropologist at Indiana University, told The Word that researchers have many different ideas.

One possibility is that there used to be a German colony on Tanzania, like Papua New Guinea was a German colony. These two colonies may have traded with Kilwa. Other possibilities are that the coins were brought by Arabic traders or even the Portuguese or Dutch. Researchers know the Kilwa traders did not bring them.

A ‘crossroad’ as used in this sentence means a meeting place for many different things.

Today Kilwa is a ruin. From the 1100s to 1400s it was a major centre of trade along the east African coast and an important crossroad of Persian, Arabic and Bantu culture. These cultures created a new language – Swahili. The sultanate’s end came because of the Portuguese. They attacked the city in 1505 because they wanted a Portuguese friendly ruler. Kilwa never returned to its former glory.

Why is the find important to modern Australian history? It does two things. First it refocuses attention on Indian Ocean trade. Professor McIntosh said Europeans usually focus on transatlantic trade, ignoring what happened further south.

Secondly, the coins make difficult the simple idea of Australian history. The history many people learn at school is that after millennia of isolation, Australia became part of the modern world because of Europeans. The coins show what historians have recently said. This isn’t true. Professor McIntosh called this Eurocentric view which focused on Captain Cook and the three Dutchmen: Abel Tasman, Dirk Hartog and Willem Janszoon, “abysmal”.

“When you look at the Northern Territory which is my area you see this range of contacts with many different people over an immensity of time.”

If we say someone is ‘scratching their head’ we don’t mean literally. The phrase means they are confused about something.

For example, on the islands visited are legends about men dressed in mirrors, which could mean armour but whose identity leaves historians scratching their heads. The researchers also found 100 sites linked to foreign contact on those islands, metal items, rock art which shows seafaring craft and remnants of a ship. You can see photos of the expedition on their FaceBook page.

Unfortunately, they didn’t find any more coins. They will do another expedition.

“We’re now going to team up with the Indiana University Office of Underwater Science and we’re going to look for shipwrecks.”

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Word List Bubble

Historical Change Quiz: Mild

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Historical Change Quiz: Mild.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

In 1944, Australia was at war. As part of the British Empire it had joined in the fight against Nazi Germany. Much closer to home, Australia was battling Imperial Japan. To protect the north, a radar station, one of many, was placed on Marchinbar Island which is only a few kilometres from the north coast of the Australian mainland. That year the soldier manning the station, Maurie Isenberg, discovered nine coins while fishing. Four of the coins were of Dutch origin while the other five came from the Kilwa sultanate. Located in modern day Tanzania, its heyday was in the 12th to the 14th century, long before Europeans had reached this part of the world.

So how did the coins from a former African port reach Australia? Professor Ian McIntosh, an anthropologist at Indiana University, explained to The Word that there are 15 hypotheses which the researchers are working with.

“The most recent hypothesis is that before there was Tanzania there was a German colony called Tanganyika. It was a German colony just as Papua New Guinea was a German colony. There was communication between these two. So if the German’s are in Kilwa and they’re also in the waters just north of Australia, this is a possibility too,” Professor McIntosh told The Word.

Other possibilities are that the coins were brought by Arabic traders or even the Portuguese or Dutch. One thing is for certain the Kilwa traders were not responsible.

Today Kilwa is a ruin. However, from the 1100s to 1400s it was a major centre of trade along the east African coast, not to mention an important crossroad of Persian, Arabic and Bantu culture. This blend of cultures even gave rise to a new language – Swahili. The city and the sultanate were established by an exiled Persian prince, Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, who bought the island from a Bantu king. Its location was ideal for Indian Ocean trade, which moved from Mogadishu to Kilwa and Kilwa trade extended from the Arabian Peninsula to India. Trade brought wealth, which brought power and by the 1400s the Kilwa sultanate controlled an area called the Swahli coast, which lies on the southern portion of Africa’s east coast. The sultanate’s end came at the hands of the Portuguese who attacked the city in 1505 to install a more Portuguese friendly ruler on the throne. Kilwa never returned to its former glory.

So why is the find significant to modern Australian history? It does one of two things. First it refocuses attention on Indian Ocean trade. Professor McIntosh pointed out that Europeans tend to focus on transatlantic trade, ignoring what happened further south.

“The Indian Ocean has been alive with history for 3000 years or more,” he said. Evidence of this are the cloves which were found in Egypt and dated to 3500 years ago. Cloves are native to islands near Indonesia. They had to reach the north of Africa somehow and trade, either overland or maritime, is the most likely reason.

Secondly, the coins complicate the simple picture of Australian history. The interpretation many people receive at school is that after millennia of isolation, Australia was brought into the fold of the modern world by Europeans. The coins reaffirm what scholarship over recent decades has said. This isn’t so. Professor McIntosh called this Eurocentric view which focused on Captain Cook and the three Dutchmen: Abel Tasman, Dirk Hartog and Willem Janszoon, “abysmal”.

“When you look at the Northern Territory which is my area you see this range of contacts with many different people over an immensity of time. We don’t know who they are but the place names and mythology from the north east Arnhem Land area is alive with references to meetings with others.”

If we say someone is ‘scratching their head’ we don’t mean literally. The phrase means they are confused about something.

For example, on the islands visited are legends about men dressed in mirrors, which could be a reference to the armour but whose identity leaves historians scratching their heads. The researchers also found 100 sites linked to foreign contact on those islands, metal items, rock art which shows seafaring craft and remnants of a ship. You can see photos of the expedition on their FaceBook page.

If you mount something you begin something very big. ‘The school mounted a fundraising campaign for a new science lab.’ Mount is also the verb we use when getting on a horse.

Unfortunately, they didn’t turn up any more coins. However the island’s geography gave them more of a sense of how the coins may have got there. The coins were found in a very inhospitable place, covered in dense jungle, where crocodile nests abound. Consequently, the coins could have been washed up on shore or brought by a single person. One thing is for certain. Another expedition will be mounted.

“We’re now going to team up with the Indiana University Office of Underwater Science and we’re going to look for shipwrecks.”

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

Word List Bubble

Historical Change Quiz: Spicy

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Historical Change Quiz: Spicy.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
End
Return

Leave a comment





× five = 35