The narrative of the deep past in Sahul is where archaeology intersects with contemporary politics:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
The idea of ACROSS presenting equal-weighted Multiple Narratives first arose during discussions when Madeline Fowler, an Australian maritime archaeologist whose previous research included historical community-based archaeology with the Narungga Aboriginal community (South Australia), joined the ACROSS project led by Helen Farr, a British maritime archaeologist interested in the deep past and global questions on early seafaring.
We confess that our respective backgrounds inform and bias the initiation of this discussion. We would also like to acknowledge the paradoxical nature of the position from which we speak—namely of white Western researchers based in the UK, debating community-based archaeology in Australia—and also identify our position within the academy that continues to privilege Western knowledge producers.
The ACROSS project has a focus on early seafaring and ‘arrival’ into Sahul in the deep past, we strive to explore this through different scales, different data, and different perspectives. The stories we tell form just a small anthology within multiple narratives.