They say he’s polarising. It’s always best to keep our skepticism intact when reading a book that contains bombastic claims, and this book probably has one of the grandest claims of them all: that there were advanced ancient civilisations before our supposedly “official” beginning roughly 6000 years ago, as agreed by the archeologists. But they’re all vanished due to an apocalypse. Which is an intriguing hypothesis to say the least.
Hence, the rabbit hole that I dug to eventually arrive at this book: Like many others in 2022, I first heard about Graham Hancock from his Netflix documentary, and then I saw that he was interviewed in the Joe Rogan Podcast so I listened to the 6+ hours of rich conversations spread among 2 episodes. Still not fully convinced by what I’ve heard, I then decided to dive deeper into this book, to see what he is talking about.
There’s nothing really new about the narrative that he hasn’t already elaborated in the podcast interviews, or summarised neatly in the Netflix documentary (especially episode 8). But the book does give a more detailed and in-depth explanations, as well as the interpretation of evidences (including several thorough chapters on Egypt that was not covered in the documentary, because he wasn’t given the permission to shoot there). And it is these voluminous explanation that makes reading this book so damn challenging due to the abundance of information that come flooding.
You see, for a long time I found Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces to be the most well-researched and well-written book that is hard to emulate. But here in this book Hancock, just like Campbell, not only found the common themes of the myths and merge them into an insane single narrative, but he also takes the similarities into a more investigative mode and turned the stories somewhat into historical records.
At the core of Hancock’s argument is this hypothesis: like I said above, there once exist lost ancient civilisations that have advanced technology, living during the Ice Age. But then they all quite abruptly disappeared due to the end of the Ice Age that saw melting ice became floods. As Hancock remarks, “[h]ow different the world was during the ice age. The sahara desert was green. The amazon jungle lies under a deep canopy. 400 feet sea level rise at the end of ice age, the prime real estate 27 million square km were submerged.”
The floods were all actually told in the many mythology and religion around the world, from the flood of Noah in the Bible, to the story in Hindu scripture, to South American mythology, to Greek tragedy. Hancock believes that myths are not necessarily created by unsophisticated society trying to understand the world from a primitive point of view, but rather a historical record occurring in many parts of the world that have a similar storyline. To be exact, the apocalyptic event happened on Earth between 12800 and 11600 years ago, when during that 1200 years the Earth was an inhospitable place.
Another core hypothesis of his is the similarities among the records kept by ancient civilisations about the story that wise bearded men came to teach them how to re-build a society from scratch after the great disaster. “What is surprising,” Hancock remarks, “is that the myths not only describe shared experiences but that they do so in what appears to be a shared symbolic language. The same ‘literary motifs’ keep cropping up again and again, the same stylistic ‘props’, the same recognizable characters, and the same plots.” Literaly motifs, like the carvings they have in the temples that shows similar stories, such as the serpents from the sky.
What are these serpents? They were what Hancock believes to be the trigger that ended the Ice Age, which caused the melting of the ice and ignited the hell on Earth during what they called the younger dryas period where the Earth was so unstable and natural disaster occurred everywhere. The sky serpents in all ancient myths are the debris of a meteor, that came in the form of thousands of meteor showers into the Earth, whose impacts equivalent to atomic bombs and produced dusts, fire, and flooding, increased the Earth’s temperature and caused the ice to melt.
And thus another of his hypotheses: the many ancient monuments – like the Pyramids in Egypt, the monuments in Maldives, the Stonehenge – that are weirdly perfectly aligned towards the stars, and all that ancient obsession with astronomy. They are simply the ancient civilisations’ way to observe the skies to ensure that they will be more ready if another “serpents” striking down Earth and to also warn future generations.
Curiously, In 600 BC Plato mentioned about the disappearance of Atlantis 9000 years from his time. Which makes it 9600 BC, exactly 11600 years ago at the end of the younger dryas of the Ice Age, a period called meltwater pulse 1B where there were a single biggest rise in overnight sea level.
This is of course a separation from the generally agreed narrative by archeologists, where the academic consensus believe civilisation was first developed in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, in Mesopotamia. According to the “official” consensus, the development began after 4000 BC and culminated in the emergence of the first true civilisations around 3000 BC: Sumer and Egypt, followed by China and the Indus Valley, and civilisation took off spontaneously and independently in the Americas in about 1500 BC.
However, as Hancock shows repeatedly in the book, there are several evidence that refute this narrative – from the Piri Reis Map to Gobekli Tepe – which shows that there were already an advanced technology or advanced understanding of the world way before 4000 BC but all of which are ignored or dismissed by archaeologists simply because they don’t fit with the agreed upon narrative. As Hancock remarks, “[m]ore than 500 deluge legends are known around the world and, in a survey of 86 of these (20 Asiatic, 3 European, 7 African, 46 American and 10 from Australia and the Pacific), the specialist researcher Dr Richard Andree concluded that 62 were entirely independent of the Mesopotamian and Hebrew accounts.”
Naturally, this bold claim does not bode well with the archaeology community, and since 1995 (the publication year of this book) there were many that tried to discredit Hancock. But out of the many counter-argument articles from archaeologists that I’ve read so far – even the most credible ones like Flint Dibble from Cardiff University – none of them have convincingly debunk him.
Because, Hancock structures his arguments through the scientific method. So, at the very least give me a similarly neatly organised evidence on how he is a fraud, and I’ll believe you. But so far I haven’t seen a single counter argument that can manage to do that instead of calling him crazy, or pseudo this pseudo that, or picking just one or two claims and unconvincingly attack them. Like the most credible critic in Scientific American mentioned about his take on Gobekli Tepe, where the article defends archaeologists’ definition that it is a “ceremonial religious site, not a city” but fail to address the fact a civilisation much older than 6000 years can make such a temple and completely ignore Hancock’s finding that Pillar 43 at gobleki teppe leads to a particular date 10,900 – 10,800 BC.
I’m not saying that Hancock is 100% right, nobody knows this for sure because in the end his hypotheses are indeed speculations. But if we spend much time digesting his work, it’s all calculated speculations. He’s asking the right questions, questions that archaeologists refuse to entertain for some reason (and being so defensive about it. He definitely hit some status quo’s nerves). And this book in particular shows very strong arguments with meticulous detail, he keeps referring to data, data, and data. And if all of the findings and arguments in this book turns out to be wrong, then at the very least it has made some big narrative worthy of a Dan Brown novel. But if it’s true, then it can significantly change the course of history and our understanding of our civilisation, not to mention what they are trying to tell us so that we can be more prepared for the future.
At the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast episode 1897, Hancock and Randall Carlson mention about ancient technologies that are way different than ours, such as the technology of sound that was used by the Egyptians to cut and move stones, and that the technologies are being tested by scientists as we speak. But then again, Nikola Tesla once tried to re-create these ancient technologies but he was then quickly suppressed and labelled as crazy. By whom and why, we can only guess.
But according to Carlson this time is different, Mazda is already on board and lending their facilities for the testings, and the white paper of these technologies will be published for the public in February 2023. So, buckle up, a bombastic news might or might not come out very soon.