Secret HistoryS


8,200-yr-old rice pollen found in China may be oldest evidence of rice cultivation yet

rice microscope
Through studying pollen substances discovered in mud, a recent Chinese research project has interestingly uncovered that ancient people in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, may have started consuming rice more than 8,000 years ago.

The project is led by archaeological expert Shu Junwu, who is also a researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, China Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS).

A rice-like type of pollen was extracted from a dark soil sample that Shu had "unexpectedly" discovered seven years ago.

The unexpected nature of the find is due to Shu accidentally seeing the soil exposed during a local geologic prospecting project. It appeared to be extremely black and blended with plant residue.

Comment: Notably this coincides with another recent study: Archaeologists discover 8600-year-old bread at Çatalhöyük - May be the oldest bread in the world

However, there's evidence of the use of rice even further back: Ancient pottery unearthed in China reveals 9000-year-old traces of 'hunter-gatherer' rice beer

See also:


7,000-year-old canoes reveal early development of nautical technology in Mediterranean

7,300-year-old canoe
© Gibaja et al., doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299765.The 7,300-year-old canoe Marmotta 1 on display in the Museo delle Civiltà in Rome. It is a huge dugout canoe made from an oak trunk about 10.43 m long, 1.15 m wide at the stern, and 0.85 m wide at the bow. It is 65 to 44cm high, depending on the part of the canoe.
The discovery of five "technologically sophisticated" canoes in Italy has revealed that Neolithic people were navigating the Mediterranean more than 7,000 years ago. The canoes date from between 5700 BC and 5100 BC and are the oldest in the region.

In research published in the journal PLOS ONE, archaeologists describe the discovery, at the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) lakeshore village of La Marmotta, about 30 km northwest of central Rome.

The quality and complexity of these prehistoric vessels suggest that several significant advances in sailing occurred during the late Stone Age, paving the way for the spread of the ancient world's most important civilizations.

The authors note that the spread of Neolithic culture through Europe was chiefly carried out along the shores of the Mediterranean.

"Many of the most important civilisations in Europe originated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea," they write. "Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians plied that practically enclosed sea to move rapidly along its coasts and between its islands."

The writers say Neolithic communities occupied the whole Mediterranean between 9,500 and 9,000 years ago. They reached the Atlantic coast of Portugal by about 5400 BCE.

"It is clear that the Mediterranean Sea must have often been used for travel, as boats allowed rapid movements of population, contacts and exchange of goods," the authors say.

It's well known that maritime trade links existed in the Mediterranean during the Neolithic, although until now it was unclear how adept these early mariners were at handling the waves.

Navigating through this uncertainty, the authors of a new study have analyzed five dug-out canoes that were discovered at a 7,000-year-old settlement that now lies at the bottom of an Italian lake.

Better Earth

Intriguing artificial cranial deformation discovered in Viking women

cranial deformation viking
© Mirosław Kuźma/Matthias ToplakDrawing of the grave of the female individual with an artificially modified skull in grave 192 from Havor, Hablingbo parish, Gotland
A recent study delves into the discovery of three women from Viking-Age Gotland who underwent skull elongation. This investigation sheds light on the fascinating tradition of body modification prevalent among the Norse and Vikings.

The study, authored by Matthias Toplak and Lukas Kerk and published in the journal Current Swedish Archaeology, investigates archaeological findings from Gotland, where half of all documented cases of male teeth filing have been discovered. Alongside the intriguing possibility of Viking tattoos, these practices represent the known forms of body modification taking place in early medieval Scandinavia.

Dating back to the latter part of the eleventh century, all three women were interred in different locations across Gotland. Their skull modifications bestowed upon them a distinctive and remarkable appearance, elongating their heads. Further details are discerned in two of the cases: one woman passed away between the ages of 25 and 30, while the other was between 55 and 60 years old. The drawing below, based on excavation reports, is an artistic rendering of how this older woman would have looked when she was buried.

Comment: It's notable that evidence of cranial deformation, as well as natural, unusually shaped, skulls - that, one would assume, are what people were were attempting to imitate - have been found in sites that date as far back as 10,000 years ago, and across much of the planet:


19thC European battlefields were plundered for dead soldiers' teeth for dentistry, bones for sugar and fertilizer, new study reveals

A denture set with real human teeth dating from around 1820. It is held by the dental museum near Colditz in Germany
The plundering of European battlefields for the teeth of fallen soldiers to make dentures was a 'major phenomenon' until as late as the 1830s, a new study has said.

Soldiers' front teeth were collected from war dead for use by dentists following Napoleonic-era battles, including at Leipzig and the 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

They were also likely taken from morgues, cemeteries and execution sites in Britain, the paper by respected German archaeologist Arne Homann said.

Although the phenomenon of 'Waterloo teeth' has been well-known for decades, Mr Homann's study is the most comprehensive investigation that has ever taken place into the subject.

Comment: The Daily Mail refers to another article from 2022 which details how it's thought that so few soldiers bones have been founded because they used to make sugar and fertilizer; below is a snippet:
The mystery of what happened to the bodies of more than 20,000 men who were killed at the Battle of Waterloo has dogged historians for decades.

Despite the passing of more than 200 years since the Duke of Wellington's triumph over Napoleon's forces in 1815, only two skeletons of fallen men have been found, with the most recent discovery coming last month.

The team discovered dozens of contemporary written accounts in Belgian, German and French archives that suggested the bones were plundered from 1834 onwards and used for the burgeoning sugar industry in Belgium.

The research also builds on previous work by Professor Pollard showing that some of the bones of the Waterloo dead were ground down and used to make valuable phosphate fertiliser.

The men and horses that were killed in the battle are believed to have been piled into mass graves, but these have never been discovered.

Dr Wilkin's research uncovered documents and publications in the Belgian state archives and other stores of documents, most of which are closed off to most researchers.

The trade in bones took off in Belgium in 1834, after a new law had liberalised the practice.

Figures taken from Belgian parliamentary debates show how whilst no bones were exported from Belgium to France between 1832 and 1833, the trade exploded from 1834, when there were 350,000kg sent.

More than two decades earlier, French entrepreneur Charles Derosne found that ground down and heated bone - known as bone char - was a more effective filter of sugar beet than charcoal.

An 1835 article from French newspaper L'Independent that was found by Dr Wilkin's team recorded how industrialists had been given permission to 'excavate the battlefield of Waterloo, in order to remove the bones of the dead, which are piled up there in such large numbers, and to make bone char.'
Meanwhile, in our own time, the West's current battlefields are providing cover for much more sinister trades: See also:

Blue Planet

Ancient humans underwent population bottleneck, climate upheaval, and mass migration, 900,000 years ago, new study reveals

Homo erectus
© The Australian MuseumThe skull of Homo erectus, an ancestor of modern humans.
Some 900,000 years ago, humans nearly went extinct.

According to the results of a genomics study published last year, modern humanity's ancestors were reduced to a breeding population of barely 1,300 individuals in a devastating bottleneck that brought us to the very brink of annihilation. Now, a new study has found that a mass migration of humans out of Africa occurred at the same time.

It's a discovery that confirms the previous dating of the population decline, and suggests that the two are linked to a common denominator; an event known as the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, in which Earth's climate underwent a period of utter turmoil, wiping out many species.

The movement of early humans into and across Europe and Asia from Africa is difficult to reconstruct. The best evidence we have consists of a sparse record of bones and mostly stone artifacts, which can be challenging to date. However, the evidence suggests that it wasn't one event, but multiple waves of early hominids and human ancestors that packed up their lives and made long journeys into new environments.

Comment: See also:


British warship identified off Florida coast nearly 300 years after it sank

HMS Tyger sea battle Schakerloo Cadiz painting
© Royal Museums GreenwichHMS Tyger taking the Dutch vessel Schakerloo in the harbour of Cadiz, on Feb 23 1674, in a painting by Daniel Schellinks
The HMS Tyger ran aground in 1742 and its crew escaped in a dramatic sea voyage

The remains of a British warship that ran aground and marooned hundreds of crew members on an uninhabited island nearly three centuries ago have been identified off the coast of Florida.

Archaeologists have verified the wreckage is that of the HMS Tyger, which was abandoned by its crew in 1742 who escaped in a dramatic sea voyage.

Officials with the National Park Service who identified the wreckage said they had recovered five cannon and log books.

Blue Planet

Bacterial diseases a lethal threat during the Stone Age

Stone age
© Östergötland MuseumStone age remnants from Bergsgraven in Linköping.
Bacterial poisoning via food and water — but also via contact such as kisses — caused a lot of suffering during the Stone Age. Diseases that today can be treated with antibiotics were then fatal, concludes new study published in Scientific Reports.

People living close together and not having access to antibiotics sounds like a nightmare. Yet, this is how we spent much of our history and prehistory.

Comment: It's possible that in the past some societies, at particular periods, had that knowledge, and utilised it: Bacteria found in soil at ancient sacred site in Ireland halts growth of superbugs

A new international study coordinated from the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm explores microbes during the Stone Age in Scandinavia.

Two different types of microbes are described, both the kind of microbes that are expected in a healthy person, but also several that must have caused pain and problems. Neisseria meningitidis spreads through close contact between humans — for example when kissing. Yersinia entrecolitica is often picked up from contaminated food and water, and Salmonella enterica is a common cause of today's food poisonings.

Comment: It does appear as though there were certain periods where humans struggled with viral and bacterial infections more than others; and, interestingly, we see many of the same factors converging in our own time:


Monumental Ming Dynasty tomb found intact in China

ming dynasty
© Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Archaeologists from the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology and the Xinzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics have uncovered an intact monumental tomb from the Ming Dynasty.

The Ming dynasty, also known as the Great Ming, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty.

The Ming dynasty fell to the short lived Shun dynasty, which was then defeated by the Manchu-led Eight Banner armies of the Qing dynasty.

The discovery was made during excavations of 66 tombs from the Han, Tang, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, located near the village of Hexitou in China's Xinfu District.

Comment: If the dating is correct, then the dynasty fell just as:
Aurora records in royal chronicles from Korea show that during the 'Maunder Minimum' between 1645 and 1715, the sun's solar cycles became several years shorter than they are today.
3-year solar cycle anomaly during Maunder Minimum discovered in centuries-old texts from Korea

See also:


UK MOD facilitated bribes to Saudi prince in arms deal - Guardian

FILE PHOTO: Prince Bandar in the 1980s.
© Diana Walker / Getty ImagesFILE PHOTO: Prince Bandar in the 1980s.
Two people accused of corruption have been acquitted after showing a British court they acted with London's blessing

Senior British Defense officials knowingly continued highly "anachronistic" payments to the son of a former Saudi defense minister while withholding key evidence from a probe into the deal, UK court documents have revealed. The practice reportedly continued even after it caused a major scandal under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The emails and memos that shed light on the arrangement, many of which are marked confidential and sensitive, were revealed as part of a bribery case that concluded in London last week. The payments related to the so-called al-Yamamah arms deal from the 1980s, which was the largest weapons export sale in modern British history. The recipient of the funds was Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, the son of Saudi Arabia's defense minister at the time, who played a key role in negotiating the contracts.

1) From the article: "The payments related to the so-called al-Yamamah arms deal from the 1980s". In some cases it takes time for hypocrisy to become clearly visible, at least if the UK government pretends to be against corruption.

2) The al-Yamamah arms deal was substantial. The Wiki has:
"Al Yamamah (Arabic: اليمامة, lit. 'The Dove') is the name of a series of record arms sales by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, paid for by the delivery of up to 600,000 barrels (95,000 m3) of crude oil per day to the British government.[1] The prime contractor has been BAE Systems and its predecessor British Aerospace. The first sales occurred in September 1985 and the most recent contract for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighters was signed in August 2006.

Mike Turner, then CEO of BAE Systems, said in August 2005 that BAE and its predecessor had earned £43 billion in twenty years from the contracts and that it could earn £40 billion more.[2] It is Britain's largest ever export agreement, and employs at least 5,000 people in Saudi Arabia.[3]

In 2010, BAE Systems pleaded guilty in a United States court to charges of false accounting and making misleading statements in connection with the sales.[4] An investigation by the British Serious Fraud Office into the deal was discontinued after political pressure from the Saudi and British governments.[5][6]"
3) In the article it might appear as if Jeffrey Cook and John Mason are the two most interesting, but what about Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud? From the time the money began flowing from the UK to Saudi Arabia, he was Saudi ambassador to the US.The Wiki has:
Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud (Arabic: بندر بن سلطان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود; born 2 March 1949) is a retired Saudi Arabian diplomat, military officer, and government official who served as Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He is a member of the House of Saud. From 2005 to 2015 he served as secretary general of the National Security Council, and was director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. From 2014 to 2015 he was King Abdullah's special envoy.
4) Below are other articles that mention Bandar bin sultan Al Saud


17th century plague pit may be largest mass burial site ever seen in Europe

plague pit
© In Terra VeritasAn unearthed section of one of the pits.
Archaeologists digging in the German city of Nuremberg ahead of the construction of a new retirement home have uncovered what may be the largest mass burial of plague victims ever uncovered in Europe.

Excavations are ongoing, but the centuries-old remains of more than 500 individuals have been unearthed so far, and the team believes there could have been as many as 1,500 people interred therein.

Precise dating is also yet to be performed, but tentative estimates suggest the eight plague pits were created around the first half of the 17th century. Some of the bones appear tinted green because for some time the site was used to dispose of waste from a nearby copper mill, Spiegel reports.

Comment: See also: The following articles provide fascinating and insightful reading that may be particularly pertinent for our own time: