A huge trove of Aboriginal artefacts, which could have been part of an armoury, has been unearthed at an Australian building site, experts said Wednesday.
Specialists hailed the discovery of the more than 20,000 objects which were found during the development of a multi-billion dollar transport project in a Sydney suburb and called for excavation work to be stopped while the find is assessed.
"It is an incredibly significant site, not only for Sydney but also nationally," Scott Franks of Tocomwall, one of four Aboriginal heritage firms advising the project, told AFP.
He said the heritage consultants were hoping to date the site, but added that the concentration of artefacts in a small area of about 700 square metres (7,535 square feet) suggested it could have been a weapons storehouse for battling British colonists more than 200 years ago.
The haul includes stone spearheads and ceremonial objects.
"The material the artefacts have been made from is not from Sydney, it's been brought here by means of trading and bartering.
"Whatever has happened here has been significant enough for some of the groups to start working together," said Franks.
He said he believed the site was "one of the heaviest concentrated sites of artefacts this country has ever seen".
Australian Aborigines are believed to be the custodians of the oldest continuous culture on the planet, with a history which stretches back more than 40,000 years.
Transport New South Wales said the site, in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, had a very high social value to local Aboriginal communities and it was working with indigenous groups to identify the objects.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said more needed to be done, including stopping work in the area, to preserve the site from being destroyed.
"Excavation on the site has already likely destroyed thousands of artefacts, which have been crushed by heavy machinery," Shoebridge said in a statement.
"This site should be protected and celebrated, the story it tells about the history of Aboriginal people and its evidence of trade routes and potential first contact makes it genuinely unique."