Secret HistoryS


Human activity on Curaçao began centuries earlier than previously believed

Curaçao Site
© Journal of Coastal and Island ArchaeologyFigure 1. (A) Map of Curaçao and the Caribbean showing locations mentioned in the text (base map: Google); (B) the Saliña Sint Marie landscape investigated by the CCLP, outlined in red (image: GoogleEarth); (C) view of Saliña Sint Marie surrounded by uplifted limestone terraces; (D) the C-1426 rockshelter site, facing South (Photo: C. Giovas).
New research co-led by Simon Fraser University and the National Archaeological Anthropological Memory Management (NAAM Foundation) in Curaçao extends the earliest known human settlement of Curaçao by centuries, adding pieces to the puzzle of pre-Colombian Caribbean history.

A team of international partners has been collaborating on the Curaçao Cultural Landscape Project since 2018 to understand the long-term biodiversity change of the island and its relationship to human activity.

Findings from the team, published in the Journal of Coastal and Island Archaeology, place human occupation of Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean, as far back as 5735 - 5600 cal BP — up to 850 years earlier than previously thought.

This updated timeline was determined by radiocarbon dating charcoal collected from an Archaic period site at Saliña Sint Marie — what is now the earliest known archaeological site on the island — using accelerated mass spectrometry.

Christina Giovas, an associate professor in SFU's Department of Archaeology and co-lead on the study, explains that the settlement of the Caribbean and the origin of its peoples is still highly debated. "What this new information does is push the initial exploration in this region back to a time where other islands to the north of Curaçao are also being settled. This suggests that the movement of people from the continental mainland into those more northern islands might have entangled with some of the movement of the people into Curaçao," says Giovas.

Blue Planet

4,000-year-old teeth highlight the harm agricultural diets have had on humans over the centuries

Killuragh Cave, Ireland.
© Sam Moore, Owner Marion Dowd.Killuragh Cave, Ireland.
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have recovered remarkably preserved microbiomes from two teeth dating back 4,000 years, found in an Irish limestone cave. Genetic analyses of these microbiomes reveal major changes in the oral microenvironment from the Bronze Age to today. The teeth both belonged to the same male individual and also provided a snapshot of his oral health.

The study, carried out in collaboration with archaeologists from the Atlantic Technological University and University of Edinburgh, is published in Molecular Biology and Evolution. The authors identified several bacteria linked to gum disease and provided the first high-quality ancient genome of Streptococcus mutans, the major culprit behind tooth decay.

Comment: There's a plethora of research showing the deleterious impact agriculture has had on human health. However, in our own era, it appears that it's not only the increase of grains, fruits, vegetables, and sugar that is harming health, but the reduction of animal protein and fats, which have been replaced with toxic vegetable and seed oils alongside inferior vegetable proteins. In addition, industrial agricultural practices that degrade plant and soil health have been shown to reduce nutrient content:


Plant material on obsidian blades on Rapa Nui suggests settlers there visited South America and returned

easter island
© Andreas Mieth, Uni KielEaster Island in the south-east Pacific was probably discovered by Polynesians around the 8th or 9th century AD. The island is famous for its unique stone sculptures called moai.
A team of archaeologists affiliated with several institutions in Chile reports evidence that early settlers on the island of Rapa Nui sailed to South America, interacted with people living there and then returned. In their study, published in PLOS ONE, the group analyzed plant material found on obsidian blades made by the early settlers.

Prior research has shown that there were people living on Rapa Nui during the years 1000 to 1300, though their origin is still not known — those early settlers are most famous for their giant stone carvings of human figures.

In this new study, the research team found evidence that some of the settlers sailed all the way to the coast of South America and back. Such a voyage would have entailed sailing one way for 3,700 kilometers and likely would have taken anywhere from one to two months, depending on the weather.

Prior research has found that the oral history of the Rapu Nui people includes reports of at least one trip made by the early settlers to South America. In this new effort, the research team followed up on such reports by digging up and studying obsidian blades at a site called Anakena, the earliest known settlement on the island. The researchers found very small amounts of plant material on the blades, evidence that they were used to process plant-based food.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: The ruins of Yugoslavia: How Russia learned that NATO poses a serious threat

NATO bombs belgrade yugoslavia
© Yannis Kontos/Getty ImagesBuilding ablaze after the NATO bombing on April 2, 1999, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
The alliance's strikes on Belgrade in the spring of 1999 forever changed relations between the West and Moscow

On the evening of March 24, 1999, student Elena Milincic was at home with her sister and a friend in Belgrade. Suddenly, the quiet evening was interrupted by an air-raid siren. The girls quickly hid under the table. It wasn't the safest place, but they got lucky - their part of the city wasn't attacked. Over the next 77 days, these girls and other Belgrade residents got a lot better at hiding from the bombs which threatened to kill them every day. The bombing was part of NATO's military operation against Yugoslavia - the campaign that shook up the world order, and not just in the Balkans.

Preconditions for bloodshed

The Kosovo problem goes back many centuries. Located in the southwest of Serbia on the border with Albania, the Kosovo region was historically inhabited by two Balkan peoples: Serbs and Albanians. The Serbs consider the region a major part of the country's history and culture. However, Albanians have also lived there for centuries.

By the mid-19th century, there were about as many Albanians as Serbs in Kosovo. Ethnic strife was a common problem in the Balkans. Retaining their particular cultural characteristics, Serbs, Albanians, Croats, Gypsies, and Muslim Serbs lived side by side for centuries. Conflicts between them, nonetheless, resulted in brutal massacres.


Blue Planet

Artist tattooed himself to solve mystery tools and technique used on Otzi the iceman 5,300 years ago

otzi tattoo
© (Deter-Wolf et al., Exarc, 2022)Tattoos on Riday's leg the day they were made (left) and six months later (right).
A man who died around 5,300 years ago was tattooed using methods fascinatingly similar to modern ones.

Ötzi the Iceman, whose exceptionally mummified remains were found decades ago in a glacier in the Ötztal Alps, was covered in tattoos. Scientists carefully studying his remains have counted 61 carbon pigment markings on his lower back, abdomen, left wrist, and lower legs.

The accepted explanation for the application of these tattoos was soot rubbed into cuts made in Ötzi's skin. Now, a team of scientists and tattoo artists has called this into significant question. How? By creating tattoos with different methods, letting them heal, and comparing the results with the tattoos on Ötzi.

Comment: See also:

Better Earth

'Honey glazed venison': The surprisingly sophisticated lives of the stilt-house, marshland dwellers of England 3,000 years ago

must farm
© Cambridge Archaeological Unit
A major report on the remains of a stilt village that was engulfed in flames almost 3,000 years ago reveals in unprecedented detail the daily lives of England's prehistoric fenlanders.

Must Farm, a late Bronze Age settlement, dates to around 850BC, with University of Cambridge archaeologists unearthing four large wooden roundhouses and a square entranceway structure - all of which had been constructed on stilts above a slow-moving river.

The entire hamlet stood approximately two metres above the riverbed, with walkways bridging some of the main houses, and was surrounded by a two-metre-high fence of sharpened posts.

The settlement was less than a year old when it was destroyed by a catastrophic fire, with buildings and their contents collapsing into the muddy river below. The combination of charring and waterlogging led to exceptional preservation. The site has been described as "Britain's Pompeii".

Comment: See also: Also check out SOTT radio's:


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: