Secret HistoryS

Blue Planet

Vittrup Man crossed over from hunter to farmer before being sacrificed in Denmark, study finds

Vittrup Man
© Stephen Freiheit. Credit: Fischer et al., 2024, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 ( cranial remains of Vittrup Man, who ended up in a bog after his skull had been crushed by at least eight heavy blows. Photo:
Vittrup Man was born along the Scandinavian coast before moving to Denmark, where he was later sacrificed, according to a study published in PLOS ONE by Anders Fischer of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and colleagues.

Vittrup Man is the nickname of a Stone Age skeleton recovered from a peat bog in Northwest Denmark, dating to between 3300-3100 BC. The fragmented nature of the remains, including a smashed skull, indicates that he was killed in a ritualistic sacrifice, a common practice in this region at this time.

After a DNA study found Vittrup Man's genetic signature to be distinct from contemporary, local skeletons, Fischer and colleagues were inspired to combine additional evidence to reconstruct the life history of this Stone Age individual at an unprecedented resolution.

Comment: It's interesting that during the transitional period of hunter-gatherer to farming that ritual sacrifice was 'common', because a number of researchers have theorised that human sacrifice - and other, stranger practices - became more prominent at times of significant climate shifts and scarcity; and one can imagine that the shift to farming may been, at least in part, an attempt to create secure and reliable ways to obtain of food:


Ancient rock art in Argentinian cave may have transmitted information across generations

A cave in Patagonia houses the oldest known pigment-based rock art in South America.
Patagonia Cave Art
© GRVExamples of some of the rock art found inside a cave in Patagonia.
A gallery's worth of rock art decorating the inside of a cave in Argentina is several millennia older than once thought and contains hundreds of drawings that span 100 generations.

At one time, archaeologists dated the art — located in Patagonia, a region in South America's southern tip — as being only several thousand years old. But a new analysis has revealed that some of the works actually date to as early as 8,200 years ago and were created during the late Holocene epoch (11,700 years ago to present), according to a study published Wednesday (Feb. 14) in the journal Science Advances.

"It turned out to be several millennia older than we expected," study lead author Guadalupe Romero Villanueva, an archaeologist with the Argentine National Research Council (CONICET) and the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought (INAPL), told Live Science. "We got surprised."

To determine the date of the massive artwork, which depicts humans, animals and other designs, archaeologists chipped away several small pieces of black pigment from the drawings. Since the pigment was made from plant material, researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the cave art.

"It's usually really hard to date rock art unless it has an organic component, otherwise there really isn't any material that you can date," study co-author Ramiro Barberena, an archeologist at Temuco Catholic University in Chile and CONICET, told Live Science. "[The cave] is not the oldest occupation in South America, but it is the oldest directly radiocarbon-dated pigment-based rock art in South America."


The Canary Islands: A thousand years of solitude

ancient caves canary islands gran canaria
© Jack Montgomery/FlickrThese caves were once home to Gran Canaria's original inhabitants
How did humans survive alone for 1000 years on desert islands off Africa?

The Canary Islands — More than 1000 years ago, a young man stood on the northern shore of the island now known as El Hierro. Across the wave-swept Atlantic Ocean, he could see the silhouettes of other islands, a volcanic peak on one soaring toward the clouds only 90 kilometers away. Yet, for him, those islands were as unreachable as the Moon.

His body betrayed the rigors of life on his arid volcanic outcrop. His molars were worn almost to the gums from grinding fibrous wild fern roots. His ancestors here had farmed wheat, but he and his contemporaries grew only barley and raised livestock such as goats. His genes held evidence that his parents were closely related, like many of the roughly 1000 people on the island, who had not mingled with outsiders for centuries. Also like many of his fellow islanders, he bore signs of an old head injury, likely sustained in a fight.

"This population faced a lot of challenges," says archaeologist Jonathan Santana of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC). "Survival on this island was a challenge every day."

Comment: Further reading:


Cancel culture in Congress dates back to John Quincy Adams, who refused to be gagged

young john quincy adams
© Museum of Fine Arts, BostonPortrait of John Quincy Adams, age 29, in 1796
Americans have a low opinion of Congress — that's not news. At just 13%, approval of Congress polls about as well as a colonoscopy and only slightly better than thermonuclear war.

But if Americans are frustrated by a legislature that seems incapable of action, imagine if Congress had forbidden itself from even talking about our nation's hardest problems.

That's what happened when John Quincy Adams, who was elected to the House of Representatives after his presidency in 1830, tried to debate the issue of slavery.

The House had what was known as the "Gag Rule ," which prohibited members from even raising the topic. But when Adams brought it up and his colleagues tried to kick him out of the House and silence him, the former president fought back. He refused to be canceled and let a culture of censorship keep him from saying what he knew was true.


Traces of Stone Age architectural structure discovered in the Baltic Sea

Joint Press Release of the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, University of Rostock and Kiel University
3D Wall Model
© Philipp Hoy, University of Rostock / model: Jens Auer, LAKD M-V3D model of a short section of the stonewall. The scale at the bottom of the image measures 50 cm. The tennis- to football-sized stones that form the approximately 1 km long wall are clearly recognisable.
In autumn 2021, geologists discovered an unusual row of stones, almost 1 km long, at the bottom of Mecklenburg Bight. The site is located around 10 kilometres off Rerik in 21 metres water depth. The approximately 1,500 stones are aligned so regularly that a natural origin seems unlikely. A team of researchers from different disciplines now concluded, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers likely built this structure around 11,000 years ago to hunt reindeer. The finding represents the first discovery of a Stone Age hunting structure in the Baltic Sea region. The scientists now present their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Stunning discovery by Kiel University researchers during an expedition

Originally, a team of researchers and students from Kiel University (CAU) wanted to investigate manganese crusts on a ridge of basal till that forms the seafloor about 10 kilometres off Rerik in Mecklenburg Bight. During their survey, however, they discovered a 970 metre long, regular row of stones. The structure consists of around 1,500 stones, usually some tens of centimetres in diameters, that connect several large meter-scale boulders. The researchers reported their discovery to the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state agency for culture and monument preservation (Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommern LAKD M-V), which then coordinated further investigations. The stonewall is located on the south-western flank of a ridge of basal till trending roughly parallel to an adjacent basin in the South, presumably a former lake or bog. Today, the Baltic Sea is 21 metres deep at this location. Thus, the stonewall must have been built before the sea level rose significantly after the end of the last ice age, which happened for the last time around 8,500 years ago. Large parts of the previously accessible landscape ultimately flooded at that time.

Comment: More on Doggerland:


Flashback Best of the Web: Anti-Putin Russian outlet fact-checks Putin's claim that Lenin conspired with the US to break up Russia into smaller countries... and finds it to be true!

Comment: Whenever his haters 'fact-check' him, they discover that Putin's knowledge of history is sublime. Putin's remarks about a little-known fact of US meddling in Russian affairs over 100 years ago were part of this riveting answer he gave to a British Sky News reporter during his marathon Q&A in December...

(The relevant portion begins at 04:36)

vladimir lenin woodrow wilson
Last week, at a press conference with 500 journalists, Vladimir Putin reiterated his suspicions about American intentions toward Russia, recalling that one of President Woodrow Wilson's advisers once endorsed the partition of Russia, writing more than a century ago:

"It would be better for the whole world if a state in Siberia and another four states emerged in the European part of what is now greater Russia."

The quotation is real — it belongs to Edward House, Wilson's informal chief adviser on European politics and diplomacy during World War I.

To find out more about America's proposal to carve up the Russian Empire (and to get some much-needed historical context), Meduza turned to historian Alexander Etkind, who recently authored a book about William Bullitt, the U.S. diplomat sent to negotiate with Lenin on behalf of the Paris Peace Conference. It was Bullitt who devised the plan in 1918 to partition Russia.

Comment: No, what Putin's 'allusions' to Russian history reveal is that he knows history, and that he goes deep into it to find answers to the pressing problems of today.

Fireball 4

Meteorites: Bronze Age 'treasure' was crafted with extraterrestrial metal

Bronze age treasure
© Lanmas / Alamy Stock Photo)Replicas of artifacts that belong to the Villena hoard in Spain
A dazzling Bronze Age hoard discovered in Spain more than 60 years ago contains some out-of-this-world metal, as a new analysis reveals that parts of the treasures were made from meteoric iron.

The hoard, known as the Treasure of Villena and discovered by archaeologists in 1963, encompasses a total of 59 bottles, bowls and pieces of jewelry exquisitely crafted from gold, silver, amber and iron.

Upon the hoard's discovery, in a gravel pit in the province of Alicante, however, researchers noticed a few curious details about some of the iron pieces. At the time, they described the items as being crafted of "a dark leaden metal. It is shiny in some areas, and covered with a ferrous-looking oxide that is mostly cracked," according to El País, a newspaper in Spain.

Now, new research has revealed that the iron used in two of the artifacts originated from a meteorite that fell to Earth around 1 million years ago, according to a translated study published Dec. 30 in the journal Trabajos de Prehistoria.

For the new study, researchers tested two of the iron pieces: a C-shaped bracelet and a hollow sphere topped with a gold sheet that may have once decorated a sword's pommel. Both items were crafted between 1400 and 1200 B.C.

Comment: It is not the first time that this connection has been made in recent times.

Bronze Age arrowhead found in Switzerland made from meteorite that landed 1,000 km away

See also:


First passages of charred, rolled-up Herculaneum scroll revealed

herculam scrolls read AI
© Vesuvius ChallangeText from the Herculaneum scroll, which has been unseen for 2,000 years
Researchers used artificial intelligence to decipher the text of 2,000-year-old charred papyrus scripts, unveiling musings on music and capers.

A team of student researchers has made a giant contribution to solving one of the biggest mysteries in archaeology by revealing the content of Greek writing inside a charred scroll buried 2,000 years ago by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The winners of a contest called the Vesuvius Challenge trained their machine-learning algorithms on scans of the rolled-up papyrus, unveiling a previously unknown philosophical work that discusses senses and pleasure. The feat paves the way for artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to decipher the rest of the scrolls in their entirety, which researchers say could have revolutionary implications for our understanding of the ancient world.

The achievement has ignited the usually slow-moving world of ancient studies. It's "what I always thought was a pipe dream coming true", says Kenneth Lapatin, curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, who was not involved in the contest. The revealed text discusses sources of pleasure including music, the taste of capers and the colour purple. "It's an historic moment," says classicist Bob Fowler at the University of Bristol, UK, one of the prize judges. The three students, from Egypt, Switzerland and the United States, who revealed the text share a US$700,000 grand prize.


Excavations in Brazil uncovered thousands of artifacts left by ancient peoples up to 9,000 years ago

Ancient Skull
Archaeologists unearthed 43 human skeletons and more than 100,000 artifacts at an excavation site in the coastal city of São Luís in northeastern Brazil.

Scientists have long debated precisely when and how humans arrived in and populated the Americas from Asia.

The archaeological site is much older than the oldest documented "pre-sambaqui" settlement found so far in the region, dating back 6,600 years. The findings suggest that people settled in this part of modern-day Brazil at least 1,400 years earlier than previously thought.

However, the artifacts have only been dated based on their depth, and confirmatory isotopic analysis has yet to be performed.

The lead archaeologist on the dig, Wellington Lage said the find might "rewrite the history of human settlement in Brazil".

The archaeological site was found when a team of construction workers came across human bones and pottery shards while planning to build a new apartment complex in the coastal city.

Covered in tropical vegetation and bordered by the urban sprawl of Sao Luis, the capital of Maranhao state, the six-hectare (15-acre) plot was known as Rosane's Farm, for the daughter of a late local landholder.

Blue Planet

90,000-year-old footprints of multiple humans found on Moroccan beach

human footprint
© Scientific Reports (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-52344-5Images of some of the hominin tracks in Larache. (a) Two tracks side by side at the bottom of the photo, which also depicts a ground control point (checkered cardboard) for differential GPS surveying. (b) Two cross trackways and photography for 3D footprint modeling. (c) to (g) Detailed view of some footprints. White Scale bars = 20 cm.
An international team of archaeologists has found and identified a trackway made by multiple humans approximately 90,000 years ago in what is now Morocco. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the group describes how they tested for its origins of the tracks.

Finding footprints left behind by people thousands of years ago is extremely rare due to their generally ephemeral nature. Still, occasionally, events will transpire to preserve footprints, such as encasement in sediment that hardens. Such prints can then over time be revealed as the material that once hid them erodes away. In this instance, the footprints were found in a sandy tract on a rocky part of the Moroccan shoreline.

Comment: Findings bringing into question the Out of Africa theory abound of late: Neanderthals and humans lived side by side in Northern Europe 45,000 years ago, genetic analysis finds