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IUPUI To Lead Team Investigating Ancient Coins In Australia

Ian McIntosh and a team of researchers are trying to find out how the thousand-year-old copper coins ended up in Australia.

  • Ian McIntosh

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    Photo: Courtesy of IUPUI

    Ian McIntosh points on a map to where the coins were found.

  • copper coins

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    Photo: Courtesy of IUPUI

    Two of the copper coins that were found in Australia.

A remote island off the coast of Northern Australia was found to have coins only previously seen near Africa, and now Indiana researchers and students will have a chance to figure out how the thousand-year-old copper coins ended up on the other side of the Indian Ocean.

Ian McIntosh, the Director of International Partnerships at IUPUI, is leading the project. He says the coins, of African origin were found during World War II. After four decades of research, it turns out the coins are of African descent.

“This trade route was already very active, a very long period of time ago, and this may evidence of that early exploration by peoples from East Africa, or from the Middle East,” he says.

McIntosh says the trick now is to figure out how the coins arrived in Australia.

Previously it was believed that a Dutch explorer “discovered” Australia in the 1600s, but depending on the outcome of the research project funded in part by the Australian Geographic Society, other civilizations may have made contact about six centuries before the discovery claim was made.

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