Thursday 31 August 2023


The five ancient coins, believed to have been minted in present-day Tanzania, date back to the 8th to 15th century AD. They were made of copper, silver, and gold and are thought to have been used as trade currency. The discovery of these coins on the remote and isolated Wessel Islands off the coast of Northern Territory in Australia has led to speculation that ancient East African traders may have reached the continent long before the arrival of Europeans.

The Kilwa Kisiwani with its ancient capital city located on the coast of present-day Tanzania in East Africa, was a powerful empire that controlled the trade of gold, ivory and other valuable goods from the African interior to the Indian Ocean.

The exact explanation for the presence of these coins remains a mystery, and further research and studies are needed to confirm their origin.

How did the five coins from distant Kilwa wind up in the isolated Wessel Islands? Was a shipwreck involved? Could it be that the Portuguese, who had looted Kilwa in 1505, reached the Australian shores with coins from East Africa in their possession? Or was it that Kilwan sailors, renowned as expert navigators all across the sea route between China and Africa, reached Australia? Did they trade with the Indigenous population? Or docked and left? Maybe some stayed.

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