Graham Hancock


Graham Hancock is an author who has fascinated me the past few years. He began as journalist, wrote a book about corruption in international charity, at least one about Ethiopia, and then the book that would serve as a sort of template for his later work: The Sign and the Seal about the Ark of the Covenant.
He believed that the Ark, from its description in the Bible, was a technological artifact difficult to control, sometimes killing the Israelites’ enemies, sometimes those who incautiously touched it. Curiously, once it is brought to Jerusalem by King David, little or nothing more is heard about it in the Bible, and by the time Judah was conquered by Babylon it had already disappeared.
Hancock believed it had gone to Ethiopia, via the island of Elephantine in southern Egypt, where there was a large Jewish colony from early times, and that it still resides there today. He says this was commonly believed believed by the Ethiopians when he visited there, but he never got the glimpse of it he sought.
This book was a template in the sense that Hancock believed human civilization extended over a much longer period than we commonly think. His next book, Fingerprints of the Gods, explored evidence for ancient civilizations in western South America, Central America, Mexico, and especially Egypt. He also vividly describes the very geologically and climatically unstable period following the last Ice Age, which he believes lasted some seven thousand years (longer than the human history we know anything much about), and is the most probably period for the Great Flood, which was universally believed in until about the beginning of the 19th century (here in the West) when science had begun to separate itself from the “supernatural” in general, and Biblical accounts of just about anything.
The 19th century was when archaeology really got started as a science, though, and suddenly the remains of civilizations mentioned in the Bible were being discovered, and their writings often decoded. Hancock adds that the legend of the Flood isn’t confined to the Middle East, but is found in some 400 separate legends all over the world, often replicating the narrative of the Bible, in which most people are killed, but a few (sometimes just one couple) are saved by intervention of the gods.
There’s a great deal more to that book, and Hancock followed up the success of it with more books about Egypt, a book about sacred monuments around the world, one about Mars, another about cities under the ocean (much evidence of ancient civilization was probably flooded when sea levels rose after the Ice Age), about Gnostic and Hermetic competitors to Christianity, and about psychedelic drugs and their probable contribution to religion and the modern world. His view of history is wider and deeper than most.
Of course he’s not the only one to have investigated these areas. Ignatious Donnelly wrote about Atlantis in the 19th century, the theosophists talked about Atlantis and Lemuria, Immanuel Velikovsky had his own theories about ancient history, Erich von Daeniken and Zechariah Sitchen thought aliens did it all. There are still other recent authors that have tried to uncover evidence that things were not as ordinarily portrayed too. Many of them have written fascinating things; Hancock may be the most distinguished of them, though.
Alternative history, as it’s called, is a field in which cranks can get a hearing. Hancock seems to have done his research on a variety of subjects, and has traveled widely to gather evidence for his books. No one has to agree with his view of things, but more mainstream authorities tend to be less imaginative, and to view things too narrowly. Thus we have archaeology which has yet to plausibly explain how the Great Pyramid was built, to say nothing of other megalithic architecture all over the world. Such subjects tend to be ignored, since we don’t know any good answers to the questions they raise. Science tends to be good at nailing down details, but many scientists lack vision. People writing alternative history have imagination, but not all of them have rigor. I think Hancock manages to keep a pretty good balance.
He’s written some novels too, in the last few years, which I haven’t encountered or felt inclined to pursue, mostly a sort of historical science fiction. Not all his books are great, but his view of things is always at least interesting, if not always compelling.
He’s open to alternative views of religion, which I find interesting. He sees shamanism as being the first human religion, and considers it the precursor to the civilization that has developed in the last 8,000 years or so. He chronicles the power-seeking of Christianity and its attempt to suppress any alternative views, and how its Gnostic and Hermetic competitors went underground, but never were defeated. He tries to explain ancient Egyptian religion, but for me, doesn’t succeed very well. But all this is more interesting than much conventional history, which tells, but doesn’t explain. The unexamined history is hardly worth telling.
I appreciate the effort he and others make to clarify ancient mysteries, even if they can’t be entirely explained. The complementary beliefs that God did everything and God did nothing are too simplistic for Hancock and others, and too simplistic for me too. Western science has explained a lot, but it has left a good deal less examined than it might be too. Fortunately, there are some scientists who are willing to investigate unusual subjects, which the mainstream prefers to leave alone. Hancock makes friends with a number of these.
Robert Schoch is one. At the request of another scientist he closely studied the Great Sphinx of Egypt some 25 years ago, and concluded that it was much older than commonly believed, because the patterns of erosion on it were clearly more from rain than wind. That means it must have been built at a time when rain (and lots of it) was quite common in Egypt. Just when that was is controversial, but it’s commonly believed that Egypt’s dry climate had already begun by the third millenium BC. If that is true, the Sphinx must have been sculpted before then, maybe a very LONG time before. Schoch doesn’t agree with all of Hancock’s ideas, but, he has said, let the evidence take him to a conclusion.
Another is Dr. Rick Strassman, who conducted studies on the effects of DMT on people, and eventually had to agree with the subjects of his experiments that the hallucinogen didn’t just produce illusions, but a reality we don’t ordinarily see.
There are others: archaeologists perhaps predominantly, who don’t buy the common view of human history, seeing it as much older and more mysterious than is usually thought.
This isn’t subject matter that interests everyone, but if it interests you, Graham Hancock’s books are a good place to start.


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