Griffith helps lay first boomerang victim to rest

Griffith University’s expertise in biological anthropology was called upon to help with a unique Aboriginal discovery in western New South Wales made by the Barkindji people.

Dr Michael Westaway, paleoanthropologist and senior research fellow at the Research Centre for Human Evolution, helped excavate the skeletal remains of an Aboriginal man aged in his 20s found in NSW’s Toorale National Park in 2014. The local community named him ‘Kaakutja’, which is a Barkindji word for older brother.

Kaakutja had been found exposed eroding from a riverbank, which prompted the excavation which revealed the complete skeletal remains of this man aged in his 20s.

To the researcher’s and Aboriginal communities surprise they found that Kaakutja had been buried about 500 years before British colonisation of  Australia. The injuries that were responsible for his death had initially been interpreted as likely being from a steel edged weapon.

Upon further investigation they found evidence of possibly the first recorded evidence of a person killed by a fighting boomerang.

Dr Westaway was invited to undertake the research by the local community and the remains were returned and  given a proper burial by his Aboriginal descendants from the Barkindji language group.

Read more about this story in the New York Times.

Also follow this link for a documentary on the excavation by ABC Catalyst.










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