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The Marree Man

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Author Topic: The Marree Man  (Read 47 times)
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« on: January 02, 2011, 11:57:36 pm »

The Marree Man

The Marree Man, as it has become known in Australia, is a geoglyph (a figure or symbol cut into the earth). It was carved into a plateau near Marree, in central Australia, just outside the 200,000 square kilometre Woomera Prohibited Area (the largest land weapons range in the world, and the site of the controversial Maralinga atomic tests in the 1950's.)

Discovered by a local pilot in 1998, the Marree Man 'geoglyph' depicts an Aboriginal man hunting with a throwing stick. It is the largest piece of artwork in the world, and remains one of the world's great unsolved mysteries. It measures four kilometres (yes, kilometres!)from head to toe, and who cut the figure and why remains a mystery. 28km in circumference and ploughed into the plateau with the aid, surveyors suggest, of a satellite-linked global positioning system.

The current theory is the image was created by American service personnel from the nearby American satellite spy base, scheduled to close down at the end of the century. The motive is still not clear, whether it is a "polite" thank you or an flying finger salute to their Australian landlords.

Experts estimate that the creation of the geoglyph must have taken between four and eight weeks, scraping off the vegetation by satellite-guided bulldozer to expose the underlying surface. Yet eight years on, no one has ever claimed responsibility for the bizarre artwork and there have still been no witnesses to such a massive operation.

During the initial investigation of the site, a shallow pit was found, containing a satellite photo of the figure, a jar containing a small flag of the United States, and a note which referred to the Branch Davidian cult who were infamous for being attacked in the Waco raid in 1993. Later, the police found vehicle tracks, and some used toilet paper.

When discovered, the outline of the figure was 2030 cm deep into the earth, and up to 35 metres in width. Even with a 2.5 metre wide dozer, this would require up to 14 passes. It is estimated that the bulldozer would have covered 400 kilometres and used up more than 300 litres of fuel.

To select a suitable site, aerial photography or satellite imagery would have been needed. Using a computer, the figure could have been superimposed over the photograph and adjusted to fit the geography with the corresponding latitude and longtitude coordinates mapped out. Some surveying skills would have been needed to plot the outline, and then with the aid of a hand-held global positioning system stakes could have been placed every hundred metres or so.

The image is gradually eroding through natural processes, but because the climate is extremely dry and barren in the region, the image is still visible. While there is a layer of white chalk material slightly below the red soil, the figure was not defined to this depth. This has led to questions as to why the creators would not have dug a little deeper and made the image both more visible and more permanent.

South Australia's daily newspaper called for the figure to be made permanent by excavating the outline down to the white chalk layer. However the site was closed shortly after discovery when some members of the Dieri tribe, whose lands lie east of Marree complained of harm and exploitation of the Dreamtime. The Environment minister called it "environmental vandalism", and the South Australian chief of Aboriginal affairs said it was nothing more than "graffiti". While access to the site has been prohibited by the South Australian government, joy flights are still allowed over the site, which falls under Federal Government jurisdiction.

The plot thickens...

The year after the discovery of the figure, a fax received at a London hotel carried information of a plaque buried 5 metres south of the nose of the Marree Man. The fax idicated that the plaque was intended to be dug up by a "prominent US media figure" shortly before the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Sure enough, a plaque was found, bearing the American flag, an imprint of the Olympic rings, and a quote from the H.H. Finlayson book, "The Red Centre". Taken from a section of his book that talks about Aborigines hunting wallabies with a throwing stick, the quote reads:
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 11:59:43 pm by Kalbas » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2011, 12:00:50 am »

Of course, there is much conjecture as to the origins of the giant geoglyph. Some say that American servicemen based at the Australian Space Research Institute at Woomera created it, to leave a lasting memento of their time in Australia. Others believe that workers from the Olympic Dam mine at nearby Roxby Downs were responsible; they certainly would have had access to the heavy earthmoving equipment, but why? A couple travelling along the Oodnadatta Track at the time later reported having seen a unit of three Australian Defence Force vehicles, one of them carrying a bulldozer, but the ADF insists that none of their personnel were within 200 kilometres of the figure during the time it was being made.
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