A particularly interesting strain of alternative history comes to us from Australia, where alternative theorists have proposed a longstanding Egyptian intervention in early Australian history, one that has left virtually no trace in the culture of Aboriginal Australians except for some random petroglyphs of dubious provenance. Worse, these alternative theorists also believe the Aboriginals sailed the world prior to 2500 BCE and gained nothing from the experience.
In Australia’s New Dawn magazine this spring, Steve Strong wrote “Ancient Egyptians in Australia! Could Mysterious Engravings Rewrite Our History?” I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, I’ll cut to the important part: The author claims that several petroglyphs found within a two-hour radius of Sidney represent Egyptian deities and symbols, thus providing physical evidence of an Egyptian presence in Australia. This is not substantively different from the earlier reports of Egyptian hieroglyphs reported on occasion in Nexus, another Australian magazine.
Strong inadvertently reveals the truth: the alleged Egyptian petroglyphs are most likely modern graffiti “as claimed by various ‘Experts’ and ‘Egyptologists,’” who are notably placed in scare quotes by the author. This would be one reason that the Australian glyphs are of much lower quality than genuine Egyptian carvings from Egypt. (However, proto-hieroglyphic carvings are often crude.)
But Strong, who believes he and he alone has uniquely understood the true origins of humanity as evolving in, of course, Australia, also claims that the fake glyphs have been “translated” from the “proto-Egyptian” and accepted by the director of the Cairo Museum. But his source is Hans Dieter von Sneff, an 80-something-year-old pseudoscientist with documented problems separating fact from fiction. Oh, and the directory of the Cairo Museum? Dia’ Abou-Ghazi was director in the middle twentieth century and conveniently too dead to confirm the story.
One last thing: There is no “proto-Egyptian.” There is a proto-hieroglyphic writing known, with examples dating to 3400 BCE. However, this proto-hieroglyphic writing does not form complete sentences until the second dynasty (2890-2686 BCE), almost exactly the time Strong proposes that the hieroglyphs in Australia were carved.
Of course there is no evidence of any Egyptians in Australia, and Australians in Egypt, or that any “Egyptian” carvings are 4,500 years old. It is perhaps interesting that such carvings represent the state of human knowledge of Egypt at the time of their “discovery,” in a mixture of styles, and in crude relief. In short, the Australian “Egyptian” hieroglyphs bear all the hallmarks of a hoax.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.