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8 May 2004
Did ancient Britons use returning boomerangs?

A British historian has claimed to have uncovered the world's oldest evidence of the returning boomerang in Yorkshire. Terry Deary says his research indicates a rock carving on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire (England) is of a four-armed boomerang which dates back as far as 4000 BCE.
     The carving on what is known as the Swastika Stone was first discovered in the 1870s and has long been considered by experts to be a swastika motif which was common in ancient Greek and Roman art. But Deary believes ancient Britons developed sophisticated boomerangs and the age of the rock, which archaeologists estimate dates back to 3000-4000 BCE, coincides with the emergence of art in the Yorkshire region.
     Deary considers the 10,000-year-old preserved boomerangs found at Wyrie Swamp in South Australia were throwing sticks which did not return. "I compared the image of the stone from photographs with today's four-bladed boomerangs. The similarity was obvious," Deary said. "I checked back on the Wyrie Swamp boomerang and it has no aerodynamic qualities. It's a throwing stick. Boomerangs come back, throwing sticks don't. Wyrie doesn't have the aerodynamic qualities to come back. So that keeps my bid in the pot." Deary added: "I want to stimulate discussion, I'm quite prepared to say I'm wrong. But I want to provoke debate, to get people to look at it and get people in Australia to look at it and ask questions."
     Deary's claims have been disputed by the West Yorkshire District Archaeologist Gavin Edwards who says the flowing four-pronged carving had always been considered a swastika motif which has also been found in Italy, Sweden and Portugal. As the only carving of its type in England, Edwards said it was unlikely to be that of a popular weapon.

Source: The Australian (7 May 2004)

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