Melbourne: A recent expedition to a remote island off the Northern Territory could help rewrite Australia`s history.
An expedition sponsored by Australian Geographic last month travelled to the remote Wessel Islands to find the spot where five 1000-year-old African coins were discovered by a curious RAAF serviceman in 1944, News.com.au reported.
While they didn`t find more coins, what they did find has already inspired a return expedition to the islands next year in the hope of rewriting the history of the first seafarers to reach Australia`s shores.
Rock art pictures of sailing vessels and unusual men, along with intriguing samples of washed up shipping timbers and metalwork are being examined ahead of a return to the area next year to explore waters around the island for wrecks.
The researchers are actively exploring the possibility that the African coins came from a medieval Arab trading ship plying a route that linked Zimbabwe, Kilwa, Arabia, Persia, India and islands in the Indonesian archipelago such as Banda and Ambon.
The coins could also have been from a Portuguese vessel as the seafaring nation conquered the African Kilwa kingdom in 1505 and regularly traded with islands north of Darwin. The first recorded visit of Europeans to the Wessel Islands was by the Dutch in 1623.