Magicians of the Gods: An Interview with Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock (credit Santha Faiia)

Graham Hancock (credit Santha Faiia)


Author and theorist Graham Hancock has had a sizeable impact upon the popular understanding of humanity’s ancient past. His global 1995 bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods contended that some previously ancient but highly advanced civilisation existed in prehistory, one which served as the common progenitor civilisation to all subsequent known historical ones. Further books such as Keeper of Genesis (with Robert Bauval), Underworld (studying underwater ruins as evidence of lost civilisations) and others propose bold new theories that challenge mainstream dogma.

Hancock’s new book Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization – a sequel of sorts to Fingerprints – gathers compelling evidence pointing to an ancient global cataclysm, caused by devastating meteor impacts, that may have all but erased a highly advanced human society and forced the survivors to, in essence, start again. Hancock also presents evidence the Earth may soon face this potentially species threatening meteor stream again.

David Thrussell spoke to Graham Hancock in this exclusive interview for New Dawn.

DAVID THRUSSELL (DT): From a distance, you appear to have what could be described as an ideal life Graham, travelling around exotic and interesting places, exploring the edges of history and knowledge. Are there any downsides, disappointments or frustrations in your work?

GRAHAM HANCOCK (GH): I feel glad that I’ve had the opportunity in this life to explore and spend time in so many incredible, mysterious, profoundly moving ancient sites, all around the world. It’s been a great privilege to have the opportunity to do this, and I have no complaints whatsoever. I’m grateful for my life. I have a lot of freedom and I’ve worked from home since I was 29 as a matter of fact – that’s when I decided I couldn’t work in a large organisation anymore, and struck out on my own. For a very long time I was completely broke. Eventually I started to manage to make a living from it. But I have no complaints. I think I’ve been very fortunate and I’m grateful for the life I’ve had the opportunity to lead.

DT: How long have you been working, brewing away on the new book [Magicians of the Gods]?

GH: Well in a sense, 25 years. As a focused project, about 3½ years, but this book draws on my interests and enquiries into this field going back to the end of the 1980s.

DT: Now, if you had to advance a single most compelling piece of evidence to support your theory, what would it be and why would it be that?

GH: Well, it’s more complicated than that. This is not a problem that can be solved by a magic bullet. This is a problem that requires co-ordination of evidence from many different sources. I would offer you three pieces of evidence that are all in a sense joined together, and one of those pieces of evidence, a very important piece of evidence, is something we have now, but I didn’t have when I wrote Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995. It’s effectively a smoking gun, globally. Scientific evidence for a global cataclysm between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago. That was essentially the hypothesis I put forward in Fingerprints of the Gods, that there had been a global cataclysm between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago, and it wiped out an advanced civilisation, and I speculated on many possible causes of that cataclysm – notably pole shift and Earth crust displacement.

What happened since 1995, and particularly since 2007, is that a group of scientists have put before the scientific community – very little of this has yet leaked out to the public – absolutely compelling evidence Earth suffered a series of impacts from fragments of a giant comet, and these impacts happened 12,800 years ago when several fragments hit the North American ice cap, causing global flooding and radical climate change. It happened again 11,600 years ago when more fragments from the same comet came out of orbit and smacked down into an ocean – almost certainly the Pacific – sending up a huge plume of water vapour into the upper atmosphere and causing very sudden global warming. So the interval between those two periods, the 1,200 years between 12,800 years ago and 11,600 years ago, is an episode of almost unparalleled global cataclysm, coupled by massive extinction of animal species, the mega mammals, the mammoth, the woolly rhino, and so on. And this is the event that I believe lost us a whole civilisation of pre-history that previously has not entered the archaeological records.

Now, let’s co-ordinate this with the latest discoveries in archaeology. Remember that one of the two dates for that cataclysm is 11,600 years ago. This was a sustained event that involved two separate bombardments from fragments of a comet. On both occasions there were massive sea level rises and a global cataclysm unfolded. The first occasion 12,800 years ago, the second occasion 11,600 years ago, were also accompanied by global flooding and massive sea level rises. It’s therefore intriguing that the archaeological site in south eastern Turkey, known as Göbekli Tepe – which means ‘pot-bellied hill’ in the Turkish language – was created 11,600 years ago by people who already knew how to work with giant megaliths. Göbekli Tepe is an anomaly, because it’s 7,000 years older than other megalithic sites around the world, and yet it demonstrates advanced techniques of stonework and stone cutting, organisation of labour, planning, site design and alignment to the heavens. This is not the work of a group of hunter-gatherers who woke up one morning and felt suddenly inspired to create the world’s first megalithic architecture. In my view, what we’re looking at is a transfer of technology, the knowledge brought by the survivors of the lost civilisation, including the knowledge of how to create large-scale megalithic structures – and at exactly the same moment 11,600 years ago we get this sudden and unexplained appearance of a sophisticated megalithic site in south eastern Turkey.

We also get the dissemination and uptake of agriculture in exactly the same region, whereas previously the inhabitants had been entirely hunter-gatherers. I say again, what we’re looking at is a transfer of technology, the fingerprint of the survivors of a civilisation that was lost in the cataclysmic events between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago.

And I mention a third point, the age-old myth of Atlantis, which isn’t actually that old because the version of it that comes down to us – the only version that comes down to us – is in the works of the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato said he got the story of the submergence and destruction of the advanced civilisation of Atlantis through his ancestor Solon, the Greek law-maker who visited Egypt in 600 BCE, and there was told, by Egyptian priests, the story of Atlantis. And they said Atlantis had been destroyed and submerged, having incurred the anger of the gods, 9,000 years before the time of Solon. We know that Solon was in Egypt around 600 BCE, therefore they are talking about 9,600 BCE in our calendar, 11,600 years ago, which is the date precisely for the appearance of these hitherto unheralded techniques of megalithic architecture and agriculture in the region of south eastern Turkey.

DT: The cataclysm you’re talking about has been staring us in the face really, hasn’t it?

GH: It has been staring us in the face, but I don’t blame historians and archaeologists for failing to get to grips with it sooner than this. Because the leading scientists in the field have only really been compiling and presenting evidence on what is now referred to as the Younger Dryas comet for the last seven or eight years. It’s a very recent discovery and the reason it’s a recent discovery is that the major impacts of this comet 12,800 years ago were on the North American ice cap. This was still the Ice Age. North America, as far south as New York, was covered with ice, two miles deep, and at least four fragments of the comet hit the ice cap. But they did not leave prominent craters on the ground because the craters were in the ice itself and the vast heat and kinetic energy of the comet melted away that ice, so the craters were transitory and what we have is shock effect on the ground underneath. Recently, a number of craters have been found. The kind of craters that would be left when an object hit a two mile deep ice cap and transferred its shock to the bedrock underneath.

Much more important is the evidence of the Younger Dryas scientific team – more than 30 scientists are working on the Younger Dryas comet. That evidence is based on what I call “impact proxies.” When you get an object coming in at 60 or 70 thousand miles an hour, and that object is a kilometre or two in diameter, it has unbelievable quantities of kinetic energy, and then you’re looking at an explosive power in the range of the entire nuclear arsenal of planet Earth, going up at once, with any single one of these objects. And there are certain, very recognisable outcomes of this. One is melt glass. You have heat unleashed in excess of the boiling point of quartz. Temperatures in excess of 2,200 degrees centigrade. This produces melt glass which is indistinguishable from the melt glass we find as a by-product of nuclear explosions. You also get carbon micro-spherules and very distinct nano-diamonds that are caused by the shock and heat. These nano-diamonds are only visible under a microscope, and they are combined with the melt glass, the carbon micro-spherules, and other evidence all around the world. They are compelling evidence for a gigantic cosmic impact 12,800 years ago.

And, by the way, it’s exactly this kind of evidence that was initially put forward to prove the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. There’s only two occasions in Earth’s history, in the last 100 million years, that we get precisely the same impact proxies spread around the world. One of them is the so-called KT event 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. And the other is the hitherto unrecognised, but now very obvious extinction level event that happened 12,800 years ago, and was caused by the Younger Dryas comet. I say “Younger Dryas” because that is the geological name for the period between 12,800 years ago and 11,600 years ago when the Earth’s climate fell into a sudden and hitherto unexplained deep freeze. We now know the cause of this. It was our interaction with the fragments of a giant comet, and the effects were truly cataclysmic.

DT: Is it reasonable to suggest that mainstream academia, media and science are wedded to a particular view of history?

GH: Yes. It is reasonable to suggest that, and it’s not surprising either. It’s just always the case – when you have any area of study, any discipline, whether it’s geology or whether it’s archaeology for that matter – that a body of knowledge is built up. And respected elders have contributed to that body of knowledge, and the new generation obviously respects the work of their elders. And gradually what builds up is a reference frame, a picture for how that area of study should be. In the case of archaeology, the picture that built up over the last 100 years of work is of a slow evolution of civilisation – that our ancestors were hunter-gatherers and nothing more until perhaps 8 or 9 thousand years ago. Then we begin to see the gradual movement towards more permanent settlement and about 5,000 years ago we get the first big cities and the first great megalithic architecture. This is the picture of civilisation taught to us by mainstream academic historians and archaeologists. It’s taught in the schools, it’s by and large conveyed through the media, but it is not a fact, it is a reference frame. It is a reference frame built up by 100 years of archaeological study. And this is, I think, the problem with archaeology and other scientific disciplines that get locked in a particular reference frame. When new facts emerge that don’t fit the reference frame, they find it difficult to adjust to them, and the first step is the attempt to discredit those facts. When more and more evidence comes in that the existing paradigm can’t explain, eventually the paradigm gets overthrown. A lot of good people who’ve done a lot of good work, who are convinced they’re right, who respect the work of their elders, and who don’t want to rock the boat – I think that’s the central problem. It always happens in science. No ideas change suddenly overnight without overwhelming new evidence that the previous paradigm cannot explain. That’s what we’re finding in the field of history and archaeology now – more and more new evidence coming in that simply can’t be explained by the existing reference frame of history.

DT: Would you care to speculate – if the theory that you’re advancing is indeed correct – what pre-history looked like? What would history on Earth look like before this comet struck the planet?

GH: A much more complicated world than the world portrayed to us by mainstream historians and archaeologists. Not a world populated entirely by hunter-gatherers as they suggest, but a world in which hunter-gatherers, and a more advanced civilisation, co-existed. This, in a way, is not odd. If you think about it, we are a very advanced technological civilisation today – Western technology, the industrial-technological-complex that has spread around the world, but we are not alone. We share the world with hunter-gatherer people – hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari Desert, for example, and in Southern Africa. Hunter-gatherers in the Amazon Basin. There are even tribes in the Amazon Basin who are completely un-contacted, who don’t even know that we exist; an advanced technological culture has not even impinged on their worldview yet. So the co-existence of advanced technology with hunter-gatherers that we see today, I would project that back into the past, and I would say more than 13,000 years ago during the Ice Age there was a much more advanced civilisation on this planet, than is given credit for by historians and archaeologists. It is remembered in myth and tradition all around the world, and it’s increasingly supported by recent striking archaeological discoveries such as Göbekli Tepe.

DT: You mentioned two obvious cataclysmic events – the dinosaur extinction and the Younger Dryas events. Is it possible there have been other cataclysmic events that we have no inkling of?

GH: Certainly there have been other cataclysmic events, and we do have inklings of them. The only question is, whether they affected the human species, and this becomes a matter for further enquiry. I hold, for the moment, the view that anatomically modern humans – people who look just like you and I – have only existed on Earth for about 200,000 years. It may well be that further discoveries will produce evidence of earlier anatomically modern humans. I don’t rule that out. But at the moment the evidence points to the emergence of our anatomically modern line about 200,000 years ago. We have, for example, a skeleton from Ethiopia, 196,000 years old, which is indistinguishable from an anatomically modern human being. So for these cataclysms to involve humanity and to impact the human story, they need to have happened within a human timeframe. This is why the Younger Dryas event is so intriguing because not only is it within the human timeframe, it’s right on the edge, on the border of a period when historians and archaeologists think civilisation began. Yet they had not yet taken into account this extinction level cataclysm, right in the backyard of history, and I would say that until they do take it into account, all their notions about the origins of civilisation are up for grabs.

There have been multiple other global cataclysms of an extinction level going back hundreds of millions, even billions of years in the past. These things happen from time to time, and every time they happen they reset the clock on this planet, and life changes due to these dramatic and radical events. I think it’s only the most recent one, the one that happened 12,800 years ago, that directly impacted the human story – and this recent global cataclysm has not yet been taken into account in the model building of our past by historians and archaeologists.

DT: Is it possible that mainstream science, the media, or even the general population in a sense, don’t want to know about our own history as a species?

GH: There appears to be a kind of directive operating at governmental level, not to say things too alarming. It particularly applies to issues that involve global cataclysms. Anybody who’s worked in the field of geology will know that proposing a cataclysmic agent results in furious criticism. There was a great geologist called J. Harlan Bretz – whose work I write about in Magicians of the Gods – who provided the first evidence of cataclysmic flooding in North America, particularly in the Pacific north-west, in the channelled scablands, an area I researched quite intensively for Magicians of the Gods. J. Harlan Bretz was absolutely 100% right, but it took from the 1920s, almost to the 1970s, before he was accepted as being right. Prior to that he had been subjected to the most grievous and unpleasant abuse, which a weaker man might not have borne. In the end he turned out to be correct and he lived until the age of 99. And when he was awarded America’s highest honour for a geologist, he said: “My only regret is that all my enemies are now dead, and I have no-one to gloat over.”

DT: If there is an active effort to forget or obscure history, why would that be?

GH: I’m not sure. I don’t want to go in the direction of a conspiracy. I think it’s just the way people’s minds work. We find it difficult to conceive of certain things, or apply them to ourselves. There may be a conspiracy. I have to contemplate this possibility a little bit in the book. I don’t like conspiracy theories – it’s an area of enquiry where facts get thin on the ground and speculation gets very thick and long. When I look at the way the catastrophists’ ideas have been systematically rubbished, sometimes for decades until proved correct – the same was true, by the way, about the dinosaur impact. Initially no scientists believed that either. Luis and Walter Alvarez, who initially proposed the idea of a cosmic impact 65 million years ago, were subjected to abuse and persecution, and they too were eventually vindicated.

DT: Are you aware of the work of Steven and Evan Strong in Australia?

GH: I know Steven and Evan Strong. They were kind enough to show me a number of interesting sites in Australia last year. I’ve got a lot of respect for their leg work and they’ve opened my eyes to mysteries in Australia which I do intend to look at in the future. Australia has not been a big focus of my work up till now.

DT: Do you ever suffer from ‘apocalypse fatigue’? It seems to be a staple of human endeavour, doesn’t it, thinking that a cataclysm is around the corner?

GH: No, I don’t suffer from ‘apocalypse fatigue’, and I don’t go around thinking that the end of the world is nigh, either. I do think we should be paying much more attention to our cosmic environment. At the moment the human race has its priorities all screwed up. We’re capable of spending trillions of dollars a year on weapons of mass destruction, quite ready to wipe each other out and destroy this beautiful and precious habitat, the Earth, that the universe has given us. Humanity shows every sign of being an insane species at the moment, an insane and unconscious species, totally devoted to material production and consumption, uninterested in matters of spirit. Negligent of this beautiful garden in which we find ourselves.

If we were to take the responsibility of human life seriously, we would closely and carefully inspect our immediate cosmic environment. I have drawn attention in the book to the fact that the debris stream of the giant comet that caused the cataclysm 12,800 to 11,600 years ago is still in orbit. It’s called the Taurid meteor stream. We pass it twice a year. If we were smart we’d pay a great deal of attention to the objects that orbit in the Taurid meteor stream. And if, as seems likely, some of them threaten Earth in the future, we have the technology, we have the ability to avert that danger. I’m only interested in the issue of future cataclysms to the extent that we can avoid them, and that foreknowledge of them would help us avoid them, and I believe that is the case with the cosmic threat. There is a threat, there is an ongoing danger. Most responsible and serious astronomers would absolutely agree with that.

We mark World Asteroid Day on 30 June, which is an attempt to draw attention to the dangers of our immediate cosmic environment, and to do something about it. We’re probably the first civilisation in the history of Earth that has the capacity to intervene in our cosmic environment and to deflect or divert objects that might threaten life. I think we’d be doing a lot better if we directed our resources more responsibly – a lot of the money we spend on useless military pursuits at the moment – and channelled it instead to a thoroughly worked out space-watch project to ensure Earth never again suffers the kind of disasters it suffered between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. We are going down the path of insanity and madness with our military spending. With all the fear and hatred and suspicion circulating in the world at the moment, we need to recognise that we’re all brothers and sisters, we’re one human family, and perhaps the prospect of dealing with a shared common threat would be the very thing to bring us together.

DT: Ironic, isn’t it, there may be a weapon of mass destruction bearing down upon us all right now.

GH: Yes, exactly. This is possible. A number of astronomers (including Bill Napier) and the mathematician Emilio Spedicato at the University of Bergamo, are all deeply concerned about the Taurid meteor stream. They believe it has a number of very large objects, including one that may be 30km wide, and the Earth crosses this stream twice a year. Some calculations indicate we may be crossing particularly lumpy and dangerous parts of the stream within the next 30 years or so. Nothing really could be more urgent. We need to pay attention to this problem. We need to identify objects that endanger Earth, and we need to move them. All of that we can do, it just takes the will. We already have the technology. But while we go around fearing and hating and suspecting one another, our eye’s not on the ball. Our eyes are on totally the wrong place.

DT: I couldn’t agree more with you.

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„Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock is available from all good bookstores. Graham Hancock’s website is


DAVID THRUSSELL is a poet trapped in the body of a hillbilly. Or a hopeless romantic hidden in the twisted frame of a dark electronic musician. Late at night Thrussell fantasises that actually he lives next door to Hieronymous Bosch in Medieval Europe and has hallucinated the whole dreadful modern era while suffering from acute ergot poisoning. We are not entirely convinced that this is not the case. The world knows him (if it knows him at all), as the creator of a seeming multitude of obscure recordings (Snog, Black Lung and Soma among others) and film scores. He has written previously for Wax Poetics, Fortean Times and numerous other publications.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 153 (Nov-Dec 2015)

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