Speaking to a gathering of London Alternatives in March 2014 at Saint James’s Church Picadilly, vanguard history researcher and author Graham Hancock doesn’t look terribly alternative. Known as an unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity’s past, his hair is conservatively styled, and he’s wearing glasses and a business suit, albeit sans tie. His demeanor and delivery (there’s something uber-credible about a crisp British accent) suggest a professorial lecture at a respected university. This audience is raptly attentive to Hancock’s description of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey (he thinks this site will prove to be over 30 times larger than Stonehenge), as well as other sites he visited while researching his forthcoming book, Magicians of the Gods, The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization (St. Martin’s Press, 2015). Since this presentation he’s made numerous trips that yielded the information he needed to clinch the stunning conclusions revealed in the book.
Hancock’s revelations aren’t so popular among mainstream archaeologists and academics, many of whom vehemently attacked his 1995 bestseller, Fingerprints of the Gods. Though it was described by the Literary Review as “one of the intellectual landmarks of the decade,” critics were furious that 600 pages of meticulously researched evidence indicated an epoch in human history that preceded by thousands of years recognized cradles of civilization in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Far East. Hancock can be very diplomatic in addressing such criticism: “Orthodox history and archaeology taught in schools and universities, manifested through popular media, have enjoyed a monopolistic position as arbiters of our past. We are told these are the authorities to whom we should turn for the story of our past. And history is a narrative, a story,” he insists. “It’s not healthy for it to be monopolistically controlled; it’s healthy if there are alternative narratives available. I’ve tried to provide a coherent, well argued, reasonable, thoroughly documented alternative take on history; I’m suggesting we consider the possibility that we’ve lost a whole chapter of our story.”
While certainly a gentleman, Hancock seems to relish digging in his heels. Consider his recent blog post: CRASH! BANG! RUMBLE! Do you hear those sounds? Faintly? In the distance? Just audible over outraged yells and howls of protest? Those are the sounds of the house of history collapsing and the furious yells and howls are from the archaeological establishment trying to drown out the truth with their noise. The truth, he claims, is that: “We are poised on the edge of a major paradigm shift in our understanding of our own past.” This is a huge deal, since Hancock feels it’s due to our amnesia about a forgotten, traumatic past that we are “so messed up and confused and totally disturbed as a species.”
Both a literary Sherlock Holmes and an exacting forensic scientist, Hancock has carefully examined the Fingerprints he found in 1995 relating to a ‘crime’ committed 12,800 years ago when a mysterious killer brought cataclysmic fire and flood to Earth, wiping out, he says, a spiritually and technologically advanced civilization. Working tirelessly for two decades to compile evidence, Hancock is now sure of the cataclysmic culprit: a gigantic cosmic impact is Exhibit A—the smoking gun—revealed in Magicians. In this much anticipated work, Hancock substantiates the theory that large fragments of a disintegrating comet (some a mile wide and approaching at more than 60,000 miles an hour), generated heat of such intensity as to instantly liquidize millions of square miles of ice when they hit, destabilizing Earth’s crust and causing the global deluge recounted in myths all around the world. He’s certain that a second series of devastating impacts causing further cataclysmic flooding occurred 11,600 years ago—the exact date Plato gives for the destruction and submergence of the island of Atlantis.
“Now that we know that an extinction occurred in our historical backyard, history is never going to look quite the same again,” asserts Hancock, who expects it will take some time until archaeologists and historians accept the implications of new scientific findings. In the meantime, he has no doubt they will “continue to make the absurd and arrogant claim that a lost civilization ‘just isn’t possible.’
Unfolding like a novel, Magicians includes research from more than thirty esteemed academics, evidence to which the ‘prosecutor’ refers while arguing his case. Sitting in the jury box, readers accompany Hancock on his travels, hear his interactions with experts, and are given his perspective on myths and symbols that have shaped cultures through the ages. The verdict? Hancock does a magnificent job of proving beyond reasonable doubt that an advanced civilization, which flourished during the Ice Age, was destroyed in global cataclysms between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. But there were survivors—known to later cultures as Sages, Magicians, Shining Ones, and Mystery Teachers of Heaven. “They travelled the world in their great ships, settling at key locations—Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, Baalbek in Lebanon, Giza in Egypt, in ancient Sumer, Mexico, Peru, and across the Pacific where a huge pyramid has recently been discovered in Indonesia,” says Hancock, who believes these human beings (he doesn’t buy the alien theory) kept the spark of civilization burning as the world lapsed into darkness. He believes these masters of agriculture, architecture, and engineering brought those skills to less evolved cultures—and encoded in sacred buildings a carefully crafted message for the future—specifically, for us.
“Beginning, really, in 2007 (the year New Scientist featured a cover article asking: ‘Did A Comet Wipe Out Prehistoric Americans?’) we now have massive new science, which, as far as I’m concerned, settles the case,” states Hancock. “There WAS a global cataclysm on a scale of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, and it happened incredibly fast. No one in the mainstream community has considered the implications of an extinction-level event. It’s not their fault; this is new evidence,” he allows. But still, he has to smirk a bit—despite their models, historians and archaeologists will someday have to admit: Oops, my goodness, we missed that! Not everything has been missed—the October 5, 2013 cover of New Scientist proclaimed, ‘The True Dawn—Civilization is Older and More Mysterious Than We Thought.’ “I shall preserve this image throughout the rest of my time on this planet,” says Hancock, adding that a paper providing additional evidence for the comet impact was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
But while we’re debating whether or not a crime even occurred, the ‘bad guy’ may still be on the loose. Some astronomers believe a 20-mile-wide, ‘dark’ fragment of the giant comet that wrought such destruction remains hidden within its debris stream (the Taurid meteor showers) and threatens Earth. An astronomical message encoded in Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe and in the Sphinx and the pyramids of Egypt warns that the ‘Great Return’ will occur in our time; the Mayan Calendar projects a window of danger that opens onto the year 2030. Unlike many astronomers, Hancock doesn’t believe the meteor showers are just bits of cosmic dust. But neither does he think we need fly into panic mode: “It’s a reason to pay attention to our immediate cosmic environment, which appears to be much more dangerous than we thought,” he cautions. “There is a real and present danger in the Taurid meteor stream. With huge objects whizzing about, it’s a fitting subject for a global human project. The best minds of many different societies would need to be brought together; fortunately, a growing number of astronomers are concerned about the possibility of another impact. We need to put pressure on supervisory agencies like NASA to fund research at an appropriate level.”
Though it’s believed the ‘lost civilization’ was technologically developed, Hancock is pretty confident that today’s tech is the most advanced that’s ever existed on this planet, and it could even stave off an incoming impact. However, he also thinks we’re on the edge of what our technology can manage. “Our civilization has gone far down the road of mechanical advantage… we’re so pleased with ourselves, we’re arrogant. Really, we’re just a pimple of an industrial civilization. What we’ve lapsed are the potent faculties of the human mind.”
Formerly an ace map reader, Hancock says he now never consults them, even during extensive travel: “I switch on the GPS satellite navigation and just do what I’m told.” The idea of GPS tracking launches a fairly passionate fulmination: “I want as little government as possible, preferably none. I do not agree with states keeping tabs on my inner states of being. I’m a sovereign adult; I don’t need the nanny state to tell me what I can put into my body and consciousness—it’s none of their bloody business.” Hancock thinks the war on drugs has been used as an excuse to build up massive surveillance and intrusion. “It’s not the way forward,” he declaims. “If western civilization has been about anything, it’s the gradual growth of the individual. We’ve had a radical reversal of individual freedom by states and large corporations. The unfortunate thing about democracy is that it’s based on public opinion, which can be manipulated. We need absolute clarity and truth. Facts are needed, but we’re prevented from getting them.”
And Hancock is used to getting the facts. Long before he began researching a lost civilization, he’d graduated from Durham University in England (with First Class Honors in Sociology), then pursued a career in journalism, writing for many of Britain’s leading newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, and The Guardian. He was co-editor of New Internationalist magazine from 1976–1979. Having been East Africa correspondent for The Economist in the early 1980s, and having authored Under Ethiopian Skies; Ethiopia: The Challenge of Hunger, Lords of Poverty (a widely-acclaimed critique of foreign aid) and African Ark, Hancock is keenly aware of economic disparity. Pointing in a YouTube video to a picture of Earth from NASA, he notes that the areas ‘lit up’ exclude large parts of the African continent. “If we were confronted by another cataclysm, the lights would go out,” he warns. “The survivors would be those who are living in the dark now. Civilization is a fragile gift that can be taken away by the whim of the gods or by our pride and stupidity as a species.”
When he’s not traveling, researching or speaking, Hancock writes, preferably, fiction. His novels include Entangled, the story of a supernatural battle of good against evil fought out across the dimension of time on the human plane; War God: Nights of the Witch, and War God: Return of the Plumed Serpent, the first two volumes of a three volume adventure series on the Spanish conquest of Mexico. “I love writing; it’s a great pleasure for me,” he says, adding; “I’m very privileged and lucky to spend so much time on the road to explore amazing, intriguing ancient sites and then write about them. He aims for about 2,000 words a day. “But with big, heavily researched books like Magicians, I’ll often have to break away from the writing for five or six days while I read and take notes from mountains of books and scholarly papers relevant to the chapter I’m writing.” Interestingly, Hancock reports that with every book he writes, he loses or damages a tooth, a phenomenon associated with bearing children. After the writing is done, other elements of creative children need attention. (Magicians contains 73 maps, charts, and diagrams, as well as 32 pages of color photos). “I’m lucky to work with my wife, Santha, who’s an excellent professional photographer,” says Hancock, adding that the couple spent weeks honing roughly 70 images from among tens of thousands.
Does he engage in sports? No! “I do no sports or recreation apart from calisthenics now and then. Not enough, I fear. Though I’m fairly active walking around in the field” (and he dives). How about food on the road? “I don’t eat meat; I do eat shrimps (he uses the plural) and scallops. Oh, and some calamari.” But he’s cutting down on the fish. A vegetarian since 1986, he lapsed in the late 90s; he’s now getting a strong feeling he should return to vegetarianism. He’s also quit drinking alcohol, since a bottle and a half of wine every day adds up and, well, he’s just not a moderate kind of guy.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Hancock spent his early years in India, where his father worked as a surgeon. While he admired his dad’s spirit of adventure in moving his young family to the subcontinent, as a young adult Hancock was alienated from him. “My father was a staunch, committed Christian, and we had profound disagreements on that front,” he says. “Particularly when I developed an intense interest in Gnosticism. Yet we had common ground in feeling there is a spiritual mystery in the heart of our human experience, and by the end of his story I’d resolved the issues between us.”
He’s also resolved in his opinion of organized, monotheistic religions. “They’re all part of the prevailing sickness making us all incredibly ill. We’ve had a grand bureaucracy of religions with priests, rabbis, and mullahs acting as intermediaries. The most useful thing we could do now is set those behind us and move to something that will nourish the human spirit. We’ve gone through a phase subjecting ourselves to big institutions: governments, religions, and corporations. That model is bust, past its ‘sell by’ date. We need revealed knowledge.” He’s partial to Shamanism, a system of direct contact with realms beyond this one.
Hancock believes that “messages still reach us from the deep and distant past in the words of the Sages, in the deeds of the Magicians, and in the mighty memorials that they left behind to awaken us at the time of the Great Return.” Furthermore, he thinks we have an urgent need to awaken to the full mystery of the magnificent gift of consciousness. “This, too, was the promise of the Mayan Calendar—that we who are alive today will find ourselves at the threshold of a new age of human consciousness. If we can bring that age to birth—then preventing the remaining fragments of the comet from devastating Earth will be child’s play—and in the process we will have discovered, perhaps for the first time in more than 12,000 years