Stonehenge may no longer be the world's oldest observatory. A new discovery in Australia's Victorian bush could rewrite the record books.Researchers studying an ancient stone arrangement alongside Aboriginal traditional owners in Australia’s Victorian bush believe Wurdi Youang, as it's known by the people of the Wada Warrung nation, could pre-date Stonehenge and even the Great Pyramids of Giza, which would make it the oldest observatory in the world. Wurdi Youang is just one of many stone arrangements created by Aboriginal nations. The site, at fifty meters wide, was said to contain 181 large standing pieces of sandstone––and the nearest sandstone deposit is located more than 20 kilometers away. Monash University astronomer, Dr. Duane Hamacher, a leader in the study of Indigenous astronomy, believes the site could date back at least 11,000 years. He had this to say:
Some academics have referred to this stone arrangement here as Australia's version of Stonehenge. I think the question we might have to ask is: is Stonehenge Britain's version of Wurdi Youang? Because this could be much, much older.Um, history is awesome.
Researchers say the site could have served as a gigantic sundial, the arrangement of the stones used to track the movements of the sun. According to custodian Reg Abrahams, there is evidence that the region around the observatory once had semi-permanent villages that fished for food and farmed the surrounding land:
If you're going to have a stone arrangement where you mark off the seasons throughout the year with the solstices and equinoxes, it kind of makes sense if you're at least most of the year in one specific location to do that. So if that's the case, it would make sense if you're near permanent food and water sources.
He says there are areas near the observatory where the region's inhabitants would have set up eel traps. There are also signs of "gilgies," which were terraces used for farming:
You see a lot of agricultural and aquacultural practices, so evidence of this agriculture may go back tens of thousands of years, pre-dating what anthropologists commonly think of as the dawn of agriculture which is about 11,000 years ago in Mesopotamia.Dr. Hamacher says the earliest first Australians were not only complex, but that this discovery could eclipse its more well-known European equivalents.
White Australians don't generally recognise 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.
H/T: ABC, Mashable