Archaeologists have discovered five ancient Australian Aboriginal boomerangs in the bed of the drying up Cooper Creek River. An article describing the findings was published in the journal Australian Archeology.
According to Amy Roberts from Flinders University (Australia) and her colleagues, boomerangs were used by Aboriginal people for many purposes: for hunting birds, digging the ground, lighting fires, and probably in ceremonies and ritual hand-to-hand fighting.
Radiocarbon dating showed that boomerangs were made from wood between 1650 and 1830, before the arrival of Europeans in the area. “Even before we got the results of the analysis, it was clear to us that they were made with stone, not metal tools,” the authors say. “It’s easy to see it from the too sharp traces of the instrument.”
Boomerangs were discovered due to drought. The ravines of the Cooper Creek river system are usually filled with water, but in late 2017 and early 2018, the river dried up due to an especially hot summer, exposing the channel and the boomerangs buried there. The first of them was discovered by a local resident, who was removing garbage from the bottom, the other four were found within a few weeks within a radius of several kilometers.
Scientists believe that the found boomerangs were lost by the aborigines in the process of hunting for game living near the water. Their design did not imply return in flight: returning boomerangs are considered much less common and provide less benefit.