Ice-age Aboriginal artefacts older than the pyramids are likely be destroyed as a result of a highly flawed assessment by the Barnett Government of a registered site in the Beeliar Wetlands, Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says.
“Probing by the Greens has revealed that there is an Aboriginal heritage site on the northern banks of Bibra Lake that has previously been found to contain more than 2000 quartz, fossiliferous chert, clay and glass artefacts and is likely to contain more artefacts below the surface,” Ms MacLaren said.
“This highly significant archaeological site, which the Roe 8 extension project area takes in, demonstrates continuous use by Aboriginal people of the northern bank of Bibra Lake for at least 5,000 years.
“The chert artefacts give us the date because chert can only have been obtained at least 6,000 years ago during the last ice age, from land that is now underwater following sea level rise.
“Allowing 1,000 years for those chert artefacts being in reuse, it is a clear indication that the site has been in use at least 5,000 years, and given the glass artefacts, made since European arrival, the site clearly has been in continuous use by Aboriginal people for at least past 5,000 years.
“This site is older than the pyramids and has been around longer than western civilisation.
“I am gobsmacked by the inadequate level of examination of the site by Department of Aboriginal Affairs heritage officers, which consisted of looking for artefacts on its highly disturbed surface and then digging just one small shovel pit to a depth of 20cm.
“From speaking to archaeologists, I understand at least 20 shovel pits, each to a depth of a metre, should have been done.
“This cursory examination by DAA, which unsurprisingly found nothing, was used as the basis for the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee’s decision at its June 2015 meeting to decide that this site, registered as DAA 4107, was no longer a site.
“At the same meeting, the ACMC also decided to overturn its previous decision not to grant consent for Roe 8 – all the while, continuing to overlook the fact that North Lake and Bibra Lake together form a registered mythological site of major significance to the Nyoongar people, the majority of whom oppose Roe 8’s destruction of it.
“It is inconsistent of the Barnett Government, which promoted the South West Land and Sea Council as the representative body for this region’s native title claimants, to have left SWALSC out of consultation on Roe 8 Aboriginal heritage and to now continue ignoring SWALSC’s unambiguous opposition to Roe 8.”
Image courtesy of UWA Archaeology