CANBERRA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- A coin dating back to medieval Africa found on an uninhabited Australian island could be the oldest artefact ever found on the continent.
The copper coin found on Elcho Island, a member of the Wessel Island group off the coast of the Northern Territory (NT), has been linked to similar coins found by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) serviceman on an unidentified deserted beach in the Wessel Islands in 1944.
Those 1944 coins were linked to Kilwa, an east-African city off the southern coast of present-day Tanzania. If the recent discovery is proved to be from Kilwa it could date back 1,000 years.
The coin has been sent to Canberra where testing will confirm its origin.
"It'll take at least weeks, but if the copper content is the same ... then that'll be it really," Mike Owens, an amateur historian and member of the group that discovered the coin, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.
"It is very frail and very thin, but it's the right size, the right weight, the right color and our experts think this coin is from east Africa because there's nothing else comparable.
"If it does turn out to be a coin it will be an extraordinary event and it will generate an incredible amount of work and expeditions.
"These things can be life-changing and a find like this, it will be by far the oldest ever imported thing in Australia."
Owens and his colleagues from the Past Masters, an amateur group of historians, researchers and archaeologists, spent five years searching for the site of the 1944 discovery.
They are hopeful of finding the original site and using that to figure out how the coins made their way to Australia. Enditem