ABC News | November 27, 2018 10:45:54The National Museum of Australia has revealed what it thinks is the strangest and most interesting thing in its collection.
The exhibit, which opened in March 2018, is called ‘Ancestral Geology: The Mystery of a New World’.
It’s a large, dark room filled with ancient artifacts.
One of them is a wooden cross and the other is a bronze sarcophagus, both dating to between 200BC and 300BC.
The sarcophagi are part of a collection of over 1,300 items and the cross has been sitting in the collection for decades.
But while the sarcophagises have been in the museum for decades, the cross itself has been hidden away for more than a century.
The Museum’s Director of Research, Dr Paul McRae, said it was something that had not been seen before.
“I’m really pleased that we’ve got the opportunity to look at it in its full glory, it is truly an extraordinary artefact,” he said.
The research was led by Dr McRafe and Dr McBride, the head of the Museum’s Archaeology Research Group.
“We’re actually looking at it as a piece of the puzzle of the earliest period in Australia,” Dr McQueen said.
“It’s really quite fascinating to look around the place and see all the different things we’ve been able to piece together.”
But the cross is not the only unusual artefact in the room.
Dr McQueens father, Dr John McRau, was one of the first to uncover the artefact.
“My dad went down to the Museum in 1903 and discovered this strange wooden cross in the middle of the floor of the museum, which he believed to be the oldest piece of evidence of the early Aboriginal culture,” Dr Rau said.
Dr McQueen said he had to go through a number of different stages to find the artefacts.
“When I was first visiting I was really excited and the only time I was ever allowed to see the cross was when I visited the Museum as a teenager,” he explained.
“In 1901 when my father discovered it I just started crying.”
Dr McRaa said that while the cross did not come from a single culture, it did date to the time of the First Australians.
“The cross was discovered on the floor just below the stone sarcophagy in 1901, but my dad was very keen to have it put back in,” he joked.
The museum’s research team said that the cross dated back to the Bronze Age, a time when the first people from the Western Cape arrived in the area.
“What I’m finding now is that we know that the first Australians came into this area about 300,000 years ago,” Dr O’Rourke said.