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Graham Hancock

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Graham Hancock
Hancock in 2010
Graham Bruce Hancock

(1950-08-02)2 August 1950[1]
Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma materDurham University
Known forThe Sign and the Seal
Fingerprints of the Gods
The Message of the Sphinx
Magicians of the Gods
America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization
SpouseSantha Faiia

Graham Bruce Hancock (born 2 August 1950) is a British writer who promotes pseudoscientific[2][3] theories involving ancient civilizations and lost lands.[4] Hancock speculates that an advanced ice age civilization was destroyed in a cataclysm, but that its survivors passed on their knowledge to hunter-gatherers, giving rise to the earliest known civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica.[5][6]

Born in Edinburgh, Hancock studied sociology at Durham University before working as a journalist, writing for a number of British newspapers and magazines. His first three books dealt with international development, including Lords of Poverty (1989), a well-received critique of corruption in the aid system. Beginning with The Sign and the Seal in 1992, he shifted focus to speculative accounts of human prehistory and ancient civilisations, on which he has written a dozen books, most notably Fingerprints of the Gods, The Message of the Sphinx, and Magicians of the Gods. His ideas have been the subject of several documentary films, including the Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse (2022), and Hancock makes regular appearances on the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience to discuss them. He has also written two fantasy novels and in 2013 delivered a controversial TEDx talk promoting the use of ayahuasca.

Reviews of Hancock's interpretations of archaeological evidence and historic documents have identified them as a form of pseudoarchaeology[7] or pseudohistory[8] that fit a preconceived conclusion by ignoring context, cherry picking or misinterpreting evidence, and withholding critical countervailing data.[9][10] His writings have neither undergone scholarly peer review nor been published in academic journals.[11]

Early life and education

Graham Bruce Hancock was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved with his parents to India at the age of three, where his father worked as a surgeon. Having returned to the UK, he graduated from Durham University in 1973, receiving a First Class Honours degree in sociology.[12][13]


As a journalist, Hancock worked for many British papers, such as The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, and The Guardian. He co-edited New Internationalist magazine from 1976 to 1979, and was the East Africa correspondent of The Economist from 1981 to 1983.[12]

Prior to 1990, Hancock's works dealt mainly with problems of economic and social development. Since 1990, his works have focused mainly on speculative connections he makes between various archaeological, historical, and cross-cultural phenomena.[citation needed]

His books include Lords of Poverty, The Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, Keeper of Genesis (released in the US as Message of the Sphinx), The Mars Mystery, Heaven's Mirror (with wife Santha Faiia), Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, and Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith (with co-author Robert Bauval). In 1996, he appeared in The Mysterious Origins of Man.[14] He also wrote and presented the documentaries Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age (2002) and Quest for the Lost Civilisation (1998)[15] shown on Channel 4.

In Hancock's book Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith,[16] co-authored with Robert Bauval, the two put forward what sociologist of religion David V. Barrett called "a version of the old Jewish-Masonic plot so beloved by ultra-right-wing conspiracy theorists."[17] They suggest a connection between the pillars of Solomon's Temple and the Twin Towers, and between the Star of David and The Pentagon.[18] A contemporary review of Talisman by David V. Barrett for The Independent pointed to a lack of originality as well as basic factual errors, concluding that it was "a mish-mash of badly-connected, half-argued theories".[19] In a 2008 piece for The Telegraph referencing Talisman, Damian Thompson described Hancock and Bauval as fantasists.[18]

Hancock's Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, was published in the UK in October 2005 and in the US in 2006. In it, Hancock examines paleolithic cave art in the light of David Lewis-Williams' neuropsychological model, exploring its relation to the development of the fully modern human mind.[citation needed]

In 2015, his Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization was published by St. Martin's Press.[citation needed]

His first novel, Entangled: The Eater of Souls, the first in a fantasy series, was published in the UK in April 2010 and in the US in October 2010. The novel makes use of Hancock's prior research interests and as he has noted, "What was there to lose, I asked myself, when my critics already described my factual books as fiction?"[citation needed]


Hancock does not agree with archaeologists that the earliest known civilizations arose independently. He speculates that there was an advanced civilization during the last ice age; that it was destroyed in a natural cataclysm during the Younger Dryas; and that its few survivors travelled the world introducing agriculture, monumental architecture and astronomy to hunter-gatherers, giving rise to civilizations like ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica.[6] Hancock argues that evidence is found in ancient monuments, which he believes are much older than archaeologists say, and also in myths like Atlantis.[20] He recycles the ideas American congressman Ignatius Donnelly put forward in his book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882), which have been long discredited.[6] Archaeologist Flint Dibble says Hancock's claims "reinforce white supremacist ideas, stripping Indigenous people of their rich heritage and instead giving credit to aliens or white people".[6]

Hancock's claims and methods are regarded as pseudoarchaeology. In Archaeological Fantasies Garrett G. Fagan points out that pseudoarchaeologists cherry pick evidence and misrepresent known facts. When apparently factual claims in their works are investigated it turns out that "quotes are presented out of context, critical countervailing data is withheld, the state of understanding is misrepresented, or critical archaeological information about context is ignored".[21] Fagan gives two typical examples from Hancock's book Fingerprints of the Gods (1995):[22]

  • Hancock wrote that "the best recent evidence suggests that"[23] large regions of Antarctica may have been ice-free until about 6,000 years ago, referring to the Piri Reis map and Hapgood's work from the 1960s. What is left entirely unmentioned are the extensive studies of the Antarctic ice sheet by George H. Denton, published in 1981, which showed the ice to be hundreds of thousands of years old.[24][25]
  • When discussing the ancient Bolivian city of Tiwanaku, Hancock presents it as a "mysterious site about which very little is known"[26] and that "minimal archaeology has been done over the years",[26] suggesting that it may date to 17,000 years ago. Yet in the years prior to these statements dozens of studies had been published, major excavations were conducted and the site was radiocarbon dated by three sets of samples to around 1500 BC.[27]

Orion correlation theory

Representation of the central tenet of the OCT – the outline of the Giza pyramids superimposed over a photograph of the stars in Orion's Belt. To achieve this concordance the pyramids have been rotated and scaled to suit. The validity of this match has been called into question by Hancock's critics, as noted in the text.

One of the many recurring themes in several of Hancock's works has been an exposition on the Orion correlation theory (OCT),[28][29] supported by Belgian writer Robert Bauval and then further expounded in collaborative works with Hancock, as well as in their separate publications. OCT posits that there is a correlation between the location of the three largest pyramids of the Giza pyramid complex and Orion's Belt of the constellation Orion, as intended as such by the original builders of the Giza pyramid complex.[citation needed]

Atlantis Reborn (1999)

Hancock and Bauval's Orion correlation theory was the subject of Atlantis Reborn, an episode of the BBC documentary series Horizon broadcast in 1999. The programme was critical of the theory, demonstrating that the constellation Leo could be found amongst famous landmarks in New York, and alleging that Hancock had selectively moved or ignored the locations of temples to support his argument.[4] It concluded that "as long as you have enough points and you don't need to make every point fit, you can find virtually any pattern you want."[30]

Following the broadcast, Hancock and Bauval complained to the Broadcasting Standards Commission, but the commission found that "the programme makers acted in good faith in their examination of [their] theories".[31] One complaint was upheld: that the programme unfairly omitted one of their arguments in rebuttal of astronomer Edwin Krupp.[32][33] The following year the BBC broadcast a revised version of the episode, Atlantis Reborn Again, in which Hancock and Bauval provided further rebuttals to Krupp.[4][33]

Ancient Apocalypse (2022)

Hancock's theories are the basis of the Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse, which was released on 10 November 2022. At Netflix, Hancock's son Sean is "senior manager of unscripted originals".[34] In the series, Hancock argues that an advanced ice age civilization was destroyed in a cataclysm, but that its survivors introduced agriculture, monumental architecture and astronomy to hunter-gatherers around the world.[6] He attempts to show how several ancient monuments are evidence of this, and claims that archaeologists are ignoring or covering-up this alleged evidence.[35] It incorporates ideas from the Comet Research Group (CRG), including the controversial Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, which attributes climate change at the end of the Pleistocene to a massive meteor bombardment.[36]

Archaeologist Flint Dibble said the show is "lacking in evidence to support Hancock's theory", while there is "a plethora of evidence" which contradicts the dates Hancock gives.[6] In one episode, Hancock says the Megalithic Temples of Malta, built in 3600–2500 BC, were actually built during the last ice age. Maltese archaeologists dismissed these claims; one, who briefly appeared in the episode, implied her interview had been manipulated.[37] John Hoopes, an archaeologist who has written about pseudoarcheology, said the series fails to present alternative interpretations or evidence contradicting Hancock.[35] Answering Hancock's claims of a coverup, an article in Slate noted that archaeologists would be thrilled to uncover an ice age civilization, if the evidence really existed.[35]

In the same vein, the archaeologist Julien Riel-Salvatore argues that it is rather simple, from a scientific point of view, to demonstrate that the main theses of Ancient Apocalypse are false.[38] He also believes that the series impairs the ability to discern the true from the biased, the credible from the false. Likewise, Courrier international calls it dubious that Hancock's assertions are never questioned on screen: in Ancient Apocalypse, he calls the archaeologists "pseudo-experts" and repeats that they treat him patronizingly, but he never quotes their names nor their arguments.[39]

Other media appearances

Hancock gave a TEDx lecture titled "The War on Consciousness", in which he described his use of ayahuasca, an Amazonian brew containing a hallucinogenic compound DMT, and argued that adults should be allowed to responsibly use it for self-improvement and spiritual growth. He stated that for 24 years he was "pretty much permanently stoned" on cannabis, and that in 2011, six years after his first use of ayahuasca, it enabled him to stop using cannabis.[40] At the recommendation of TED's Science Board, the lecture was removed from the TEDx YouTube channel and moved to TED's main website where it "can be framed to highlight both [Hancock's] provocative ideas and the factual problems with [his] arguments".[41]

Hancock has appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast several times.[42]

In popular culture

In 2009, Roland Emmerich released his blockbuster disaster movie 2012, citing Fingerprints of the Gods in the credits as an inspiration for the film,[43] stating: "I always wanted to do a biblical flood movie, but I never felt I had the hook. I first read about the Earth's Crust Displacement Theory in Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods."[44]



  • Hancock, Graham (1985). Ethiopia: The Challenge of Hunger. London: V. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03680-X.
  • Hancock, Graham; Enver Carim (1986). AIDS: The Deadly Epidemic. London: V. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03837-3.
  • Hancock, Graham (1989). Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0-87113-253-2.
  • Hancock, Graham (1992). The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. New York: Crown. ISBN 0-517-57813-1.
  • Hancock, Graham (1995). Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilization. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-59348-3.
  • Hancock, Graham; Robert Bauval (1996). The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-70503-6. Published in the United Kingdom as Hancock, Graham; Robert Bauval (1996). Keeper of Genesis: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-00302-6.
  • Hancock, Graham (1998). The Mars Mystery: A Tale of the End of Two Worlds. London: Michael Joseph. ISBN 0-7181-4314-0.
  • Hancock, Graham; Santha Faiia (1998). Heaven's Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-70811-6.
  • Hancock, Graham; Faiia, Santha (2001). Fingerprints of the Gods: The Quest Continues (New Updated ed.). New York: Crown Century. ISBN 0-7126-7906-5.
  • Hancock, Graham (2002). Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization. New York: Crown. ISBN 1-4000-4612-2.
  • Hancock, Graham; Robert Bauval (2004). Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith. Tisbury: Element Books. ISBN 0-00-719036-0.
  • Hancock, Graham (2005). Supernatural: Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind. London: Century. ISBN 1-84413-681-7.
  • Hancock, Graham (2010). Entangled: The Eater of Souls. New York: The Disinformation Company. ISBN 978-1-934708-56-9.
  • Hancock, Graham (2013). War God: Nights of the Witch. Coronet. ISBN 978-1-444734-37-9.
  • Hancock, Graham (2015). Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilisation. Coronet. ISBN 978-1444779677.
  • Hancock, Graham (2019). America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781250243737.


  • Michael Palin's Pole to Pole – Crossing the Line (EP 5) (1992)
  • Quest for the Lost Civilization – Acorn Media (1998)
  • Atlantis Reborn Again – BBC Horizon (2000)
  • Earth Pilgrims – Earth Pilgrims Inc. (2010)
  • "The War on Consciousness" – TEDx (2013)


  1. ^ "Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse: All you need to know about presenter Graham Hancock". The Economic Times (English ed.). India Times. 13 November 2022. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  2. ^ Fagan 2006, pp. xvi, 27–28.
  3. ^ Defant 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Atlantis Reborn Again {programme synopsis}". Science & Nature: Horizon. BBC. 2000. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  5. ^ "...the belief of Hancock and other writers in a lost civilisation that passed its wisdom on to ancient Egypt or the Maya repeats the theme of Atlantis: the antediluvian world popularised by Ignatius Donnelly from 1882." Kevin Greene, Tom Moore, Archaeology: An Introduction, page 252 (Routledge, 2010 edition). ISBN 978-0-203-83597-5
  6. ^ a b c d e f Dibble, Flint (18 November 2022). "With Netflix's Ancient Apocalypse, Graham Hancock has declared war on archaeologists". The Conversation.
  7. ^ Fagan 2006, pp. xvi.
  8. ^ Fritze 2009, pp. 214–218.
  9. ^ Fagan 2006, pp. 27–28.
  10. ^ Fritze 2009, pp. 218.
  11. ^ Regal 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Biography". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Durham University gazette, XX". Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  14. ^ Thomas, Dave (March 1996). "NBC's Origins Show". Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  15. ^ "Quest for the Lost Civilization" – via
  16. ^ London: Michael Joseph, 2004. ISBN 0-7181-4315-9
  17. ^ Barrett, David V (19 August 2004). "Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith". The Independent.
  18. ^ a b Thompson, Damian (12 January 2008). "How Da Vinci Code tapped pseudo-fact hunger". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  19. ^ Barrett, David V (18 August 2004). "Talisman: sacred cities, secret faith, by Graham Hancock & Robert Bauval". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  20. ^ Kriss, Sam (15 November 2022). "Why Graham Hancock thinks everything we know about human prehistory is wrong". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  21. ^ Fagan 2006, p. 36.
  22. ^ Fagan 2006, p. 35–36.
  23. ^ Hancock 1995, p. 14.
  24. ^ Denton (1981). The Last Great Ice Sheets. ISBN 978-0471060062.
  25. ^ Fagan 2006, p. 35.
  26. ^ a b Hancock & Faiia 2001, p. xxii.
  27. ^ Fagan 2006, p. 35-36.
  28. ^ Graham Hancock, Santha Faiia.Heaven's Mirror: Quest For The Lost Civilization (London: Michael Joseph, 1998). ISBN 0-7181-4332-9
  29. ^ Glenn Kreisberg (editor), Lost Knowledge of the Ancients: A Graham Hancock Reader (Bear & Company, 2010). ISBN 978-1-59143-117-6
  30. ^ "Atlantis Reborn Again". BBC. 14 December 2000. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  31. ^ Broadcasting Standards Commission (30 November 2000). "Fairness Complaints" (PDF online reproduction). The Bulletin. London: Broadcasting Standards Commission. 37: 1–3. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  32. ^ "Broadcasting Standards Commission - Synopsis of adjudication. Horizon: Atlantis Reborn (November 4th 1999)". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  33. ^ a b "Horizon: Atlantis Reborn and the Broadcasting Standards Commission". Science & Nature: Horizon. BBC. 2000. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  34. ^ Moore, Kasey (17 October 2022). "Ancient Apocalypse: Graham Hancock to Present Netflix Original Docuseries". What's on Netflix. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  35. ^ a b c Onion, Rebecca (18 November 2022). "The Ancient Absurdities of Ancient Apocalypse". Slate.
  36. ^ Ogden, Leslie Evans (1 April 2018). "Hot Theory About Cool Event". Natural History. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  37. ^ Arena, Jessica (20 November 2022). "Maltese archaeologists push back against Netflix show's temple claims". Times of Malta. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  38. ^ Riel-Salvatore, Julien (22 November 2022). "Netflix, l'archéologie et l'obscurantisme". Le Devoir. Montréal. p. A7. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  39. ^ "Netflix. "À l'aube de notre histoire" : faut-il croire ce que raconte Graham Hancock ?". Courrier International (in French). 16 November 2022. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "News TEDx – Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDx Whitechapel", TED Blog, 14 March 2013, retrieved 28 December 2016
  42. ^ "Joe Rogan (Podcast Site)". Joe Rogan (Podcast Site). Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  43. ^ "2012 (2009) – Credit List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  44. ^ Jenkins, David (16 November 2009). "Roland Emmerich's guide to disaster movies". Time Out. Retrieved 25 November 2009.

Works cited

Further reading

External links