Collins heaps praise on Hancock for the boldness and originality of his claims: “Magicians of the Gods is an extraordinary work of genius, delivering its poignant message well.” But he lards his praise with several reminders that he, Collins, has the superior understanding of prehistory. He even criticizes Hancock for something he didn’t quite do. Collins takes issue with the idea that the lost civilization was located in pre-Ice Age Indonesia, in an area known as Sundaland, whose traces Hancock claims to have seen in various architectural and artistic works.
He proposes a common origin for all this ancient art in pre-cataclysmic Sundaland, revealed, finally, as the true location of Plato’s Atlantis. It is a new and very bold theory, although one that does contradict what the Greek philosopher says about the geographical location of his Atlantic Island.
Collins rightly dismisses Natawidjaja’s extremist claims about lost chambers and pre-Ice Age pyramids in Indonesia as nothing more than misidentified natural phenomena, though he generously wishes him “luck” in proving his ideas. But Collins isn’t entirely acting out of a love for scientific accuracy here. Natawidjaja’s and Hancock’s ideas about an Indonesian origin for world culture contradict his own highly profitable hypotheses about a lost European civilization that performed the same feats and were responsible for the same wonders, especially the Neolithic Turkish megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe. Since both claims can’t be true, Collins has an active and vital interest in discrediting his Indonesian rival.
As for Hancock, despite pouring cold water all over the ancient astronaut theory in general and Zecharia Sitchin in particular in Magicians of the Gods, somewhere between publishing the book and the end of September he seems to have realized that he remained famous over his long fallow period (of trying to become a novelist) largely because of his appearances on Ancient Aliens. In a Q-and-A session with readers of the Daily Record a week ago, Hancock backpedaled on his dismissal of ancient astronautics, claiming that “there are extraordinary anomalies on Mars” that could be the result of ancient aliens who also visited earth, or ancient humans who traveled to Mars, claims he made in The Mars Mystery (1998), backpedaled on somewhat, and then embraced again.
But don’t feel bad for the millionaire author, who has sold nine million copies of Fingerprints of the Gods alone, which at the standard 10% royalty rate would have netted him somewhere north of $10 million, and probably quite a bit more. Factor in his other books, and you’re looking at tens of millions of dollars. The Telegraph newspaper went to visit him in his “imposing slab” of a manse earlier this week, and the reporter, Rupert Hawksley, was goggle-eyed over the number of “expensive-looking curiosities” hiding behind the “imposing front door.”
Hancock’s latest money-grab—er, investigation—has left him embittered once again, telling the Telegraph that he is the most criticized person ever because he is too successful: “Because my books have been quite successful, I have been subjected to more of the scathing and withering attacks on the quality of my work, and on my qualities as a human being, by the academic community than anybody else.” I’d like to see him and Scott Wolter debate that.