In the early Golden Age, Rinoin was romanticised as one of the great "lost civilizations". However, unlike most cultures to receive such praise, the Rinoins have the distinction of actually having existed. The belief during the Golden Age was that they were a Utopian society, advanced in intellect and morality, and slain by the Marcon Alliance. This belief was fuelled when several books found in the Library of Arindell were positively confirmed as Rinoin in origin.
The truth, as it turns out, was far more exciting.
Very little is known about the Rinoins, and nearly all from secondary sources. Their civilization probably began around B.G.A 2900 and ended around B.G.A. 2200. The ending date can be more precisely fixed due to records from their destroyers, believed to be an early iteration of the Marcon Alliance. The only information for the start of Rinoin culture comes from a single passage in a book written several centuries later, which alludes to Rinoin culture being "only 700 years young" at the time of destruction.
Other sources tell of the war and Rinoin's eventual defeat. It was well into the Dynastic Period, though still over six hundred years before the Marcon Alliance would solidify. Still, all sources claim the Marcons destroyed the Rinoins, indicating that either the Marcons solidified earlier than previously understood, or one portion of the empire was already using the name well before then.
For over two millenia, through the Golden and Second Ages, the Rinoins were dismissed as myth. Though several books had been discovered in the Library of Arindell that were believed Rinoin, they could not be translated, and thus were not considered actual proof. It was not until the early-mid Third Age when a Rinoin city was excavated, that proof was finally found.
The city was at first believed to be of a much newer vintage. There was large-scale evidence of poured concrete, and buildings made with steel construction. Though little remained, it seemed evident that many of these buildings could have been skyscrapers, and easily reached 40-60 stories in height. Not only that, but a fully modern plumbing and sewage system, along with an underground transportation network, were discovered beneath the ruins.
The entire metropolis was found underneath farmland, itself atop two hundred feet of dirt, which appeared to have been carried in and dumped, literally burying the the place. Artifacts found while digging through the topsoil dated back to the Dynastic Period of the Mage Wars, indicating that not only was the city at least 3500 years old, but had been delibrately buried by human hands.
The discovery of a relatively modern city under thirty centuries of Mage Wars-era dirt baffled archeologists. It was not even originally believed to be Rinoin, as tradition held that the Rinoins were a technologically regressed, but socially-advanced people, and thus could not have build such a city.
Metal plaques were eventually found bearing the same script as the Rinoin books in the library, and among these some with translations into other languages. This eventually allowed modern scholars to interpret and translate the Rinoin dialect, and it was then that the ruins were finally positively identified.
The discovery of the first Rinoin city led to finding several more, all deliberately buried beneath huge mountains of earth. The finding of Marcon settlements around most of these proved that the cities had been buried by members of the Marcon Alliance.
As excavations progressed, very curious trends emerged. The civilization was very modern, with sky scrapers, subways, and roads that indicated motor vehicles. Additionally, airports were found, as well as millitary facilities, and all the trappings of a normal civilization. They had even progressed beyond millitary fortifications.
But the thing that baffled researchers was the lack of evolution. Each city they unearthed appeared to have been planned and precisely laid out, and built on a virgin site. The Rinoins did not appear to have obtained their advanced status, merely begun with it.
The most interesting finds came when Gudersnipe scientists examined some of artifacts, and declared that the Rinoins must have, at one time, possessed space travel. Some of the technology they used had very clearly been adapted from inter-stellar space craft. While not typically an eyebrow-raiser, it should be noted that the Rinoin civilization has been found exclusively in an isolated corner of a flat world.
Excavations at Nine Pounds
The most extensively-studied Rinoin settlement is the city of Nine Pounds. A prosperous metropolis, Nine Pounds is estimated to have had a population of several million. In addition to the city, the Foundation excavated and studied a nearby battlefield where the Rinoins fought the Marcons. Excavations show that in addition to advanced automatic rifles, artillery, concrete fortifications, and armored vehicles, the Rinoins actually employed several small atomic weapons in the defense of their city.
The Marcons, meanwhile, would have been armed with iron (having not yet developed steel at this time): iron swords and armor, mostly light mail, and pikes. How the Marcons defeated the Rinoins remains a mystery, but the best guess involves magic. The Marcons must have had a tower nearby, and used chain-attack. Although this is not clear in-universe, background notes by the Author indicate that the survivors of Rinoin escaped to another world, where they became the Ninjas and Pirates of the Antelope Books.
During the Age of the Dragon, Hunter Jusenkyou traveled to Nine Pounds to carry out excavations. His interests were purely academic: the Pendragon engaged in archaeology as hobby and went on digs for recreation. While there, he uncovered evidence that would date the Rinoin civilization back much further than 2900 B.G.A., all the way back into the Age of Darkness, and possibly even into late Antiquity. His evidence is hotly contested, since the Rinoins were clearly not Ancients, and the academic community has long refused to accept the existence of another, technologically-advanced, pre-Mage Wars civilization.
Hunter's evidence is a large cache of paper goods found in a subterranean vault on the outskirts of town. The vault was originally constructed as a bomb shelter for a single family, heavily re-enforced with concrete and metal. At some later time, it was used for storage, and a wide variety of personal effects from multiple households were apparently stacked inside and forgotten. The vault was air-tight and the conditions perfectly preserved countless items, among them a series of notebooks which Hunter claims belonged to none other than Nathan Searlin.