23 March 2014
by Steven Strong
The Ancient Compass Carving in the Middle of Nowhere
The first time I spoke to Mark Bates on the phone, he provided some details of an engraving he had found at a site in NSW that he felt had some resemblance to a compass. According to Mark the diameter of the outer circle remains exactly the same throughout, and the inner markings included some perfectly straight lines and some perfectly curved. I remember asking for some clarification as to what he meant by 'perfectly curved', and his answer left me more than a touch dubious. It all sounded either to good to be true or the claims of an overzealous amateur geologist whose eye sight is failing.
I wasn't sure exactly what Mark had found, but he certainly was excited by it, and passionate in his delivery. Our subsequent phone calls left me neither wiser nor convinced, but I was taken by was Mark's absolute conviction that this engraving was something extraordinary. Admittedly, his talk of geometry, straight lines and 45 degree angles wafted away into the background as my mind filled with memories of the many times our team has gone out into country chasing promises of all manner of archaeology, only to come back with a big hand full of nothing.
In the end, I agreed to go to the site only because Mark was so committed and absolute.
Our initial meeting seemed to be heading in that familiar, empty direction. We met at Mark's home and he showed us some rocks and a few other objects that each had archaeological potential, but nothing that was definitive. For all intents and purposes it was a bucket full of maybe's, so I was skeptical that our next destination, the compass, would live up to its hype.
In the 'Middle of Nowhere'
As expected Mark's description was inadequate, but not the way I had expected. No words could have prepared us for what we found. Within seconds of arriving I was on all-fours with my eyes straining at the precise detail in this engraving; nothing else was of interest.
The incisions in this stone compass are magnificent. There are eight arms (three are partially damaged), all exactly 45 degrees apart, radiating out of a circle bearing a perfect curve. In every line the mathematics remain constant; 90 degrees at every edge, perfectly straight lines, uniform width and depth throughout. we had never seen anything remotely like this before! Without doubt, this was not created by any accepted Original rock-and-stick tool kit. At the very least it was cut by a hardened iron blade.
To assess its construction further, Mark had made contact with an academic from a local university who agreed to inspect the carving. But standing on the site, the academic was at a loss as to how this compass was cut. He conceded it was possible to recreate such an intricate engraving in the laboratory, but never out in the field. The base rock is very hard and firmly wedged into the earth, and the lines are so precise and clean that it contradicts accepted estimates of the Original peoples' technological capability. Unfortunately, any serious consideration of the implications of this carving just wasn't on this academic's agenda.
Ironically, as we stood by the compass discussing how the academic could offer nothing in relation to this amazing piece of archaeology, a National Parks & Wildlife ranger pulled up alongside us in his four wheel drive. His front wheels stopped less than 30 centimetres from the compass carving, and as he sat in the driver's seat, completely oblivious, he had only to glance down to see the amazing archaeology before him. Five minutes in conversation passed, and he left none the wiser.
Do these people genuinely not see ancient history when it stares them in the face? Or do they simply choose to ignore it?
A Puzzling State of Affairs
Once the four wheel drive departed down a dirt track and out of sight, we continued in our musings and measurements. Whatever machinery or tools were used to create this carving, they are of a remarkable sophistication. For advocates of status quo academia, this all runs into a puzzling state of affairs.
Firstly, the commonly accepted belief in Australian academic circles is that, before European settlement, there were only naked uncivilized hunter-gatherers roaming this country with a basic rock-and-stick toolkit and zero understanding of astronomy, or indeed anything. Given that our academic friend was unable to fathom its creation, and National Parks & Wildlife don't even know this intricate carving even exists, we can be certain it was not carved by post-European settlers using modern techniques. And yet its detailed construction reveals the work of nothing less than metal tools! Thus traditional historians would have a real problem in ascribing ownership to this piece of archaeology, if only they would would bother to look in its direction.
Secondly, the north-south meridian, the two longest lines, run 15 degrees east of magnetic north. How could this possibly happen? Given the degree of technological refinement required to create these precise lines, arcs and angles, how could the cardinal directions be misrepresented by such a margin? Did the creator of this delicate piece of masonry suddenly lose control of their mental faculties and fail to align north and south correctly?
More importantly, why did they even bother carving it? The site is in the middle of nothing and nowhere. There are no farms or residential developments for kilometers, the soil is infertile, the trees stunted, and there is nothing here of commercial value or potential. From a western perspective, there is simply no motive to go to such lengths to engrave this unclaimed masterpiece.
The Inconvenient Potential
Of course there are still many questions to be raised and logical explanations to consider, but they are antagonistic to accepted historical accounts of pre-European Australia.
What if the ancient inhabitants of this land did possess the technological knowledge to create such a compass? Have we underestimated the capabilities of ancient Original culture?
What if there was a time when the Earth's axis tilted 15 degrees to the east of what we currently call north? Could known phenomena like geomagnetic reversal and the precession and changes in axial tilt account for this apparent discrepancy?
What if the compass was correctly aligned when it was originally carved? Could this be a masterpiece of ancient Original navigation?
The reality is that there can be, at this stage, no conclusions drawn to this tale of incomplete archaeology.
Undeniably, the circumstantial and associating evidence of its antiquity is present and accounted for, well beyond mainstream expectations. Featuring perfectly straight and curved incisions, carved with an unknown device and the steadiest of hands, I can see why the academic was so mystified, but I am appalled by the apparent lack of interest or follow-up.
Whomever made this compass, we can be confident it is beyond the reach of both hunter-gatherer technology (from any continent) and any modern mobile machinery of today. Surrounding the carving is poor soil, weak scraggly gums, no sign of road, house or farmstead, and no apparent reason to carve and align such a device, yet here in the 'middle of nowhere', tucked away out of sight, is an eight armed compass engraved into a rock platform facing the sky.
Rather than delve into hypothetical realms by proposing theses of earlier civilisations, ancient agents or advanced beings from the stars, we feel a more cautious approach to this investigation is appropriate. The pivotal point is inclined 15 degrees east of north, and our obvious first question relates to the period of time when the Earth's axis was positioned in that same alignment, a question our team is currently unable to answer.