A Cannon Could Prove The Portuguese Made It To Australia Before The Dutch And English

A travel poster for Australia, showing Captain Cook landing with his soldiers at Botany Bay in 1770. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Analysis undertaken on a 16th-century cannon discovered by a 13-year-old suggests Portuguese sailors reached Australia before the Dutch in 1606 and Captain Cook in 1770.

According to The Times Christopher Doukas discovered the “swivel gun” off Dundee Beach near Darwin during an unusually low tide in 2010.

It was then sent to the University of Melbourne who compared the lead in the gun to 2000 ore samples sourced from locations around Europe. The metal used to construct the gun most resembles a sample taken from the Spanish Iberian Peninsula.

“This truly is the smoking gun of the Portuguese discovery of northern Australia,” heritage group Past Masters — which paid for the analysis — posted on its Facebook page.

The Times report however says the scientist who conducted the research expressed caution over the group’s conclusion, saying lead was often recycled. Initial theories said the gun was an Asian copy of a 16th-century design.

There have long been theories that Portuguese sailors reached northern Australia between 1521 and 1524, before their Dutch and English counterparts arrived on the continent. A 16-century set of French maps depicts a land mass between Indonesia and Antarctica which some scholars believe is Australia.

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