An Australian rock formation that has been discovered may be older than Stonehenge and Avebury in England and older even than the pyramids of Egypt. Stonehenge and Avebury’s rock formations were placed there over five thousand years ago, but the Wurdi Youang rock arrangement in Australia is thought to be 10,000 years old, according to geologists. Reg Abrahams, the guardian of Wurdi Youang, has said that they are currently getting experts to determine its exact age and the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative are helping them.
“Geologists and experts estimate it to be around 10,000 years old and there are probably only around seven rock formations like this recorded in Victoria, and many of those have been destroyed. The aim of the research is to work out more accurately how old it is, and we’re working to get it on the Australian national heritage list and possibly even have it classified as a world heritage site.”
In what could now turn out to be the oldest astronomical observatory in the world, this Australian rock formation was constructed in a similar fashion to Stonehenge. Like Stonehenge, around 90 blocks of basalt was used for its formation and it pinpoints exactly the Winter and Summer Solstice, as well as the equinox. Wurdi Youang is located less than 30 miles west of Melbourne, but site custodians are not revealing its location just yet.
Dr Duane Hamacher, the lead researcher on this project, has explained that because there haven’t been many people left to talk about the traditions of the Wathaurung, an Indigenous Australian tribe in that area, a lot of their history has sadly disappeared. While evidence has been found that points to there having been an agricultural society there over 12,000 years ago, complete with stone villages, it makes trying to understand this ancient rock formation even more important as this would “turn on its head the idea of the nomadic Aboriginal.”
“It shows that in Victoria, sedentary agricultural lifestyle was taking off. What we’re trying to figure out is exactly how old this thing is to tell us how far back that tradition goes. We know agriculture started around 12,000 years ago and if this site dates back to around then, perhaps Aboriginal people were some of the first.”
While we know of the incredible size of the rock formations in Stonehenge and also Avebury, how does the size of those of Wurdi Youang compare? The rocks extend from knee-high to waist-high and even though like Avebury some have been moved around over the years, a vast amount of them remain in place and untouched.
Dr. Hamacher has said that it is very probable that these rocks were placed there as an astronomical observatory, used in order to keep track of the seasons for agricultural purposes.
“They understand very well the motions of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and the stars throughout the year and over longer periods of time. White Australians don’t generally recognize that the history of colonialism has erased that, so what we’re doing is helping the communities piece that information back together by working with communities.”
While it is still early days and the team working on the Wurdi Youang project haven’t yet published their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific study, if their work is verified and proven to be true, everything we thought we knew about the nomadic life and history of Aboriginal tribes will be changed completely. The fact that these tribes may have built a scientific tool with this Australian rock formation in order to study the seasons so that they could better sustain their life in agricultural villages, reveals that they would have utilized sedentary agriculture much earlier than has previously been thought.
[Featured Image by Amr Nabil/AP]