This is something that has lived in my head perhaps since Zou, and the Chapter 1016 just solidified it.
First, a bit of background. When it comes to mysteries and mystery novels, one thing you need to be cognizant of is that by the 80% mark of the story, whether you are told or not, you have seen the solution to the mystery. When the author pulls it back, you’re then able to go “Ohhhhh, now that makes sense.” One Piece is no exception, see Kanjuro and Denjiro reveals. In other words, we have been told the name of the Ancient Kingdom already. We just haven’t connected the dots.
Well, the first clue is: We aren’t told the name of the Ancient Kingdom.
Why is this a clue? Well, just like the dog that didn’t bark in the nighttime, it would be a clue in the sense that its absence is important. Its name was “Freedom”, “Japan”, “Spain”, “United States of the Emirate African Republic”, neither answer would mean anything to the reader. In other words, it becomes likely that this is something that we as the reader should recognize if we are told to be significant n-story.
Ok, but how does this tie to Wano? Enies Lobby was a whole teenager ago. The answer is of course…Thriller Bark. What comes after Enies Lobby? Thriller Bark. What’s in Thriller Bark? Ryuma. Who is Ryuma? A samurai who an unspecified number of centuries ago defended the Land of Gold.
Already, we are aware that Wano is a country that was known as something different in the long distant past. *Assuming that Land of Gold is literal and not metaphorical of course* I’m keeping this assumption primarily because Wano is referred to as ‘The Land of Wano’, so it may be a name or it could be a epithet/nickname.
[But wait, stay on this page for a brief sidenote. Remember the Zoro killing Kaido theory? One that parallels Ryuma slaying a dragon over the Flower Capital. What if the hint there is cleverly buried between the literal and apocryphal. Let’s assume for a moment that this is 100% right, and the Ancient Kingdom was the Land of Gold who closed its borders to outsiders. A legend of the Land of Gold is that its most powerful defender slew a dragon in the skies? So what would the enemies of this country name themselves? Perhaps something that references this event…maybe even…Sky Flying God. Not quite right. Heavenly Lizards? Not quite evocative. How would Celestial Dragon sound as a name intended to mock this Ancient Kingdom and its failures? ]
Moving on from this, let’s loop back to Professor Clover. Clover and Cat tell us that Wano is the Ancient Kingdom explicitly. Wait, what?
Clover tells us that the Ancient Kingdom passed down the Poneglyphs. But we are told that the Kozuku Family is the one who created them. It seems a simple case of adding 2 and 2.
But wait, it gets interesting. Let’s look at the description of what they found at Laugh Tale by Oden.
Read it, and read it again. Let’s go back to the dog that didn’t bark in the nighttime. Why did Oden not mention the Ancient Kingdom that was destroyed? You’d think it’s so significant that he’d mention it right? Then read it again. If Wano is the Ancient Kingdom, then he did learn about it, and he did mention it.