While at edge of the Darling River in New South Wales in 2014 William Bates discovered a
skull sticking out of the soil. The specimen was named Kaakutja,
meaning “older brother” in Baakantji. Mr. Bates noticed a gash on the right
side of Kaakutja’s face from the eye all the way to the jaw, he
believed the gash to be caused by a metal
blade when Kaakutja was
attacked by European colonists. 1 (St.
Fleur, 2016)

site was excavated with the help of Michael Westaway a
paleoanthropologist from Griffith University in Queensland. Samples were
sent to Rachel Wood, a geochemist from the Australian National University for
radiocarbon dating. The results of radiocarbon dating showed that Kaakutja had
lived between 1260 and 1280 CE. Optical analysis tests were also done on sand
grains lodged in Kaakutja’s skull
and sediment from the site of the burial. These tests suggested he was buried between 1305 and 1525 CE. Both findings
showed that Kaakutja, who was discovered to be a male between the ages of 20
and 30, had lived and died before the arrival of European colonists. This meant
Kaakutja was killed by another native of Australia with a traditional wooden
weapon making it the first archaeological discovery of its kind in Australia. 2
(St. Fleur, 2016)

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body had received a ritual burial and was curled up on his right side facing
upstream. In addition to the gash across his skull, damage to his arm and ribs
was also discovered. Aboriginal histories and literature were used to help in
finding out what type of weapon was used to kill Kaakutja.
The information gave two options; a type of wood club called a Lil-Lil and the Wonna, a
fighting boomerang like the commonly known returning boomerang but with a sharp
blade. 3 (St. Fleur, 2016)

 The team was surprised by the similarities between the wounds that were
caused by a traditional wooden weapon and wounds caused by steel weapons. 4
(St. Fleur, 2016) This brings about the question of whether they
discovered any evidence of wood in Kaaktja’s wounds
to help prove that he was indeed killed with a traditional weapon such as a
boomerang. However, when Claire Smith an archaeologist from Flinders University
in Australia reviewed the study she agreed with the findings. 5 (St.
Fleur, 2016)

            It is
possible that Kaaktja was
the first person discovered to have been killed by a wooden weapon such as the
boomerang, though there is still the question of why he received a ritual burial.
Was he attacked from behind suffering multiple wounds like research suggests
and found later by his own family and then buried or perhaps he was killed by
someone he knew during a disagreement and then buried in remorse. Although the data
in the article gives a great deal of information clearly explaining the discovery
and the research it would need to go much farther to answer these questions if
they can be answered at all.

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