In Australia, archaeologists have found five unique boomerangs that were used by the aborigines. Scientists have studied them and published the results in the journal Australian Archeology.

Scientists have found five rare “non-returning” boomerangs in a dry riverbed in South Australia. They were used hundreds of years ago by Aboriginal people for hunting waterfowl, lighting fires, and perhaps even in ceremonies and hand-to-hand combat, according to new research.

In total, archaeologists have found four full boomerangs and a fragment of the fifth. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the aborigines made boomerangs from wood between 1650 and 1830 – even before the first Europeans explored the area. According to lead researcher Amy Roberts, an archaeologist and anthropologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, the artifacts provide a rare glimpse into what life was like for the indigenous people of the southern continent.

Because Aboriginal boomerangs are made of wood, they decompose quickly when exposed to air. This is only the sixth time they have been discovered in their archaeological context. This was helped by drought. The ravines of the Cooper Creek river system are usually filled with water, but in late 2017 and early 2018, the river dried up, exposing the channel and partially buried boomerangs there.

Perhaps the aborigines dropped boomerangs elsewhere, and then the water washed the tools into the river system. But, most likely, the natives threw boomerangs across the river to intimidate the waterfowl and they got caught in the net. This is the traditional hunting method of indigenous Australians.

At the same time, scientists note that the length of the largest of the recently found boomerangs was 1 m. It was probably too heavy to be used as a projectile and was mainly used in hand-to-hand combat.

Normal boomerangs fly away and then return to the thrower. But there are also “irrevocable” boomerangs – they were widespread among the Australian aborigines. As a rule, throwing sticks were distinguished by their large size and weight, as well as a characteristic bend or “elbow” that made them spin in flight. As the authors of the study note, the fact that boomerangs must necessarily rotate is a stereotype of modern people. Now their “irrevocable” versions can really be considered a strange hunting weapon. But for the natives, this was the norm.

Ethnological studies show that aboriginal men kept different types of boomerangs in camps – for dancing, hunting, wrestling, and ceremonies. Similar throwing sticks were used in other parts of the world, including Ancient Egypt, Poland, and North America. But now boomerangs are primarily associated with Australia.