Was an advanced civilization lost to history in the global cataclysm that ended the last Ice Age? Graham Hancock, the internationally bestselling author, has made it his life’s work to find out — and in America Before he draws on the latest archaeological and DNA evidence to bring his quest to a stunning conclusion.
Hancock’s research takes us on a series of journeys and encounters with the scientific rebels responsible for the recent extraordinary breakthroughs. In the process, from the Mississippi Valley to the Amazon rainforest, he reveals that ancient ‘New World’ cultures share a legacy of advanced scientific knowledge and sophisticated spiritual beliefs with supposedly unconnected ‘Old World’ cultures.
Have archaeologists focussed for too long only on the ‘Old World’ in their search for the origins of civilization while failing to consider the revolutionary possibility that those origins might in fact be found in the ‘New World’?
Graham is on a promotional speaking tour for the book through the UK and US for the next couple of months (see his website for details) – including another appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on April 22 – but in the meantime, check out the video interview below in which he discusses the new book, and related topics, for a full 45 minutes (though this is just part one of an extended interview, which you can watch by signing up at London Real).
If you’re short on time, or using a slow internet connection, I’ve including a timecode summary and selected pull-quotes beneath the video for your convenience.
0-2:00: Short soundbites from the interview
2:00-5:30: Promo for London Real
6:30-9:50: Discussing his recent health issues
“I think it was sent to teach me some lessons… The lesson is to not take anything too seriously. Y’know, you have to be driven and committed to do this kind of research and make good books – and that’s all very well – but it also takes a price from the body. So I’m just trying to be a little bit more laid back in everything I do and enjoy life.”
9:50-11:15 : On his research and writing process.
“What I’ve found really works for me, is get all the travel and research done – get it thoroughly done, and thoroughly in my head – and then sit down and do nothing else but write, for as long as it takes. And typically for a book of this length, the actual writing period can be 6 months…but you’re looking at two and a half to three years of research in front of that.”
11:15-13:00: Notes that he was concerned about how his illnesses (including seizures that affected his memory) might affect his writing process. But…
“…interestingly enough it didn’t, and it’s helped me to understand the process of writing. In a way, it’s a kind of download from ‘the cloud’…and as long as your connection to the cloud remains solid, it’s alright.
What I’ve realised as a writer, is the most important thing I can do is get out of my own way. Don’t try and overthink it. Do all the groundwork, get that absolutely solid, but when it comes to writing: don’t overthink it, just let it flow.”
13:00-16:00 : Talks about how the induced coma during his recent illness was just a complete darkness and claustrophobia. Recounts how when he was a teenager he nearly died, but that was a different experience: that NDE featured an OBE and was “filled with light”.
Agrees with interviewer that the early NDE put him on the path of his life. “Yes it did, because right there, at a very early stage in my life, I got very clear evidence that we are not our bodies…consciousness is a giant mystery.”
16:00-19:00: On his life work of searching for evidence of a lost civilization.
“For more than a quarter of a century, I have been focusing on the possibility of a forgotten episode in human history, of a lost civilization… In Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995, I made a very clear statement that my evidence suggested very strongly that there had been a global cataclysm somewhere around 12,500 years ago – 10,500 BC…that was the central figure in Fingerprints of the Gods that there had been this event, but I couldn’t really say exactly what the event was.
But what then happened, as we come through 2007 [to] 2010, is this mass of new evidence that comes out on precisely what I was talking about, a global cataclysm. And the dating on it – this is science, not some journalist sitting writing a book at home, this is 60 leading scientists in the fields of astrophysics and geology – very strongly and firmly presenting evidence of a global cataclysm caused by a comet impact 12,800 years ago. So I was 300 years out in the estimate I put forward in Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995. And more than ten years later, science comes back with new information.”
19:00-20:00: On new discoveries showing that ‘things just keep getting older’.
“What’s happened since 1995 is that the evidence, drip by drip, has kept coming in, that validates what I was saying before: that there are missing episodes in the human story. ”
20:00-21:30: On the site of Gobekli Tepe being a “huge development”.
“John Anthony West and Robert Schoch had been arguing for a long time that the Sphinx is much older than it’s supposed to be – we’re looking at a 12,000-year-old monument not a 4,500-year-old monument. The response of the skeptical community to that was ‘but if there was a civilization capable of creating something like the Sphinx 12,000 years ago then they must have created other monuments, and we don’t see any big monuments from 12,000 years ago, so therefore the Sphinx must be the age we say it is’.
And then what happens? Klaus Schmidt and the German Archaeological Institute discover Gobekli Tepe, and lo and behold it’s 11,600-12,000 years old, exactly in the window of the Sphinx… And suddenly the notion that the Sphinx is much older ceases to be in ‘left field’, and starts to become much more central, because we’re seeing it’s part of a pattern.”
21:30-25:30: On being on the Joe Rogan podcast, and debating Michael Shermer. “I began to realise how ideological this all is…. it’s helped me to understand that there is an ideological war over our past.”
As an example, discusses the extinction of megafauna around 12,800 years ago.
“The mainstream, for some reason in this [ideological war], doesn’t like cataclysms. It doesn’t like cataclysmic events. It doesn’t want to think that cataclysms have played a role in the human story. So seeking for a way to explain the disappearance of the megafauna, the natural option for a mainstream archaeologist is to say ‘oh that was human predation that did it’…and suddenly we’re required to picture a group of hunter-gatherers who are so incredibly efficient, and so ruthless, that they wipe out the entire megafauna of North America in a matter of months.
So, there’s a tendency in the study of prehistory to want to keep the past kind of nice and calm, and just the way it is now. There’s even a word for it, it’s called ‘uniformitarianism’…and it’s a doctrine.”
26:00-30:15: Discusses controversy over ‘Clovis culture’.
“The position of archaeology for 50 years is ‘those were the first human beings to enter the Americas, no human beings entered the Americas before 13,600 years ago. And those are the same archaeologists who repeatedly called me a pseudoscientist, or a pseudoarchaeologist, for suggesting other possibilities.
But lo and behold, what do we find? Around 2010 onwards, the evidence becomes ovewhelming that Clovis was not first, not first at all…not even by a tiny margin, by a huge margin… All archaeologists admit this now, that ‘Clovis first’ was a mistake, they got it wrong, completely wrong…. but what they don’t comment on is the careers that were ruined as a result.
…So when archaeologists of that type say ‘Hancock is a pseudoscientist’, I say ‘Hang on a minute, you guys are the pseudoscientists. You guys sold us Clovis first for 50 years. You guys withdrew funding from research that might have exposed that lie earlier…you wouldn’t let it happen’. And that’s not right, it shouldn’t be that way. Archaeologists should not take the view that they have got a firm and fixed picture of the past. Because actually we know so little about the past. They should always be saying ‘this is our provisional position, but we are open to other possibilities’. Because if they don’t say that, those other possibilities are going to come along and kick them in the ass pretty soon.
…[It’s not a] small matter. Because if human beings have been in the Americas for 130,000 years, instead of for 13,000 years, well then there’s 100,000+ years that archaeologists haven’t looked at because of their preconceived notions.”
30:15-31:00 Summarises his problem with archaeology attacking ‘heretical’ ideas:
“[I think archaeology] should be less despising of people who consider other possibilities, because that’s a useful thing to do. It’s useful to consider other possibilities, even if they’re wrong. Science should never get locked in a narrow channel, and say ‘everything outside the bounds of this channel is not subject to investigation’.”
31:00-34:30: Discusses how America has long been ignored as a fantastic subject of ‘lost history’ investigations, and how many aspects of indigenous culture have been erased through recent centuries.
“No wonder we’re a species with amnesia if we take the entire cultural memory banks of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas and deliberately wipe them out.”
34:30-37:45: What are some of the new insights we’ll learn from the new book?
“There’s a whole range of things – the first and most important issue to understand…is that North America was at the epicentre of a humongous global cataclysm. And it was particularly bad because it was a comet.”
Goes on to discuss the incredible changes in climate, sea levels, and animal populations towards the end of the last Ice Age.
40:00-42:30: On what would happen to the modern world if we suffered a similar comet impact.
“If we were to have another event like the event that happened 12,800 years ago, I can say with absolute confidence that our civilization would not survive it.
When I look at that situation, I ask myself ‘who on the planet today would survive a disaster on that scale?’. I know it wouldn’t be me. I know it wouldn’t be the majority of urbanites, or indeed scientists, or any of the creations of the modern world. The people who are really fit for survival in a world in turmoil are the hunter-gatherers…in Namibia, in the Amazon jungle. People whose daily business is survival. They would hardly be knocked sideways by this event.”
42:30-45:45: Graham gives his best guess on what this ‘lost civilisation’ might be like:
“I think we’re talking about a civilization – more than 12,000 years ago – which was as advanced as our civilization was, say in the late 18th century or early 19th century. In other words, they could navigate the world, they could explore the world, they could measure the world accurately, they had precise astronomy, they could create beautiful maps that were accurate in terms of latitude and longitude. That kind of level of civilization.”
Acknowledges that he has had previous candidates for where this civilization might have existed: e.g. Antarctica and Sundaland (now underwater). Now sees America as “an amazing place for a civilization to evolve.”
45:45-48:30: On an explanation for why we find similar ideas in cultures all around the world throughout time.
“What we’re looking at…is the legacy of ideas, from a remote common source, which actually influenced cultures all around the world. And it’s why we find these astonishing similarities. I think a deliberate effort was made, by the survivors of that cataclysm – those who came from the lost civilization – to try and restart their civilizations. And they used the hunter-gatherers with whom they co-existed in the world at that time, as their seed-bed, to try to plant and re-establish these ideas.
And that’s why we find the same ideas cropping up all around the world in cultures that definitely were not in contact with one another. And trying to explain it by direct contact doesn’t work. What does work is going far back, 12,000+ years back, going right back to that time when these ideas were seeded all around the world.”