The destruction of two rock shelters in WA reveals a disturbing lack of appreciation for our heritage – ABC News

Comment by tonytran2015: 1. It appears that Australia has been dead set on Population Replacement in Australia. This is just part of “the bigger picture”, First Nation People are only among many to be replaced. 2. The World needs more of German general Dietrich von Choltitz, the last Nazi governor of Paris.

Now to Western Australia

Mining giant Rio Tinto has destroyed something so ancient in WA it’s hard to fathom with a human brain.

Two rock shelters, recognised as one of Australia’s oldest known Aboriginal heritage sites — with evidence of human occupation from over 46,000
years ago — were destroyed last weekend.

An aerial view of the red dirt and trees of the Juukan Gorge.Rio Tinto was given permission to blast Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.(Supplied: Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation)

Rio Tinto, operating legally under a law written in the early 1970s, detonated the shelters to extend its Brockman 4 iron ore mine.

Rio knew the site was thousands of years old and it had delayed destruction
of the rock shelters to allow excavations to be carried out and for cultural artefacts to be salvaged.

But archaeologist Dr Michael Slack, who led the excavations in 2014, found
several “staggering” artefacts, including grinding and pounding stones
believed to be the earliest use of grindstone technology in Western
Australia, and a 28,000-year-old kangaroo leg bone sharpened into a pointed tool, which appeared at the site up to 10,000 years earlier than in other sites.

He also uncovered a 4,000-year-old belt made of plaited hair, whose DNA
was associated with today’s Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura traditional

His excavation dated human occupation in the region scores of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

“What we found were some really important discoveries,” he said.

“And so significant in that respect, that it’s one of those sites you only excavate once or twice in your career.”

How can we put the loss into perspective? Can our brains comprehend deep time?

According to historians, written language was invented around 5,500 years ago. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was constructed around 4,500 years ago.

So go back a further 40,000-odd years.

Peter Stone, a world-renowned archaeologist and UNESCO chair in Cultural
Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University in the UK, said
the destruction of the rock shelters was comparable to the Islamic State’s destruction of Palmrya.

“It’s a tragedy that sits up there with all sorts of sites; the Palmyras, Mosuls and Bamiyan Buddhas of this world,” he said last week.

Is anyone responsible?

Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act hasn’t been updated since the 1970s.

Since mid-2010, mining companies operating in WA have applied 463 times for
leases that grant permission to destroy or disturb heritage sites and none has been refused.

Rio Tinto received legal
approvals and ministerial consent in 2013 to conduct the detonations after consulting traditional owners and allowing archaeological

WA’s Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, says the WA
Government is hoping to modernise the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

And Burchell Hayes, a traditional owner of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama people,
said his people were sad that something they had a deep connection to had been destroyed.

“We can’t undo what’s already happened, but what we can do is try and go back to Rio Tinto and talk to them on how we can protect the remaining sites in that area,” he said.

Where does that leave us?

It makes one think of a story from World War II.

In the final days of the German occupation of Paris, a German general called Dietrich von Choltitz, the last Nazi governor of the city,
refused a direct order from Adolf Hitler to obliterate major landmarks in the city.

If it weren’t for his disobedience, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, and other buildings and bridges would have been blown to smithereens.

Why didn’t he do it?

He believed Hitler had become insane by that stage and the destruction would have been militarily futile.

But he also had an affection for the city’s history and culture.

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