According to chapter 30, Hancock believes that the lost civilization possessed the following characteristics:
Hancock identifies these claims as speculation, and after five hundred pages of innuendo states that “I will not attempt to prove here or support with evidence” these ideas.
It’s a good thing, too, because most of the ideas he puts forward in his speculative section are very closely modeled on ancient astronaut claims, for he argues that myths and legends record as “magic” the superior abilities of the lost civilization, whose member were mistaken for gods. The specific claims about transcending the need for mechanical skills by employing telekinesis seem to be modeled on several medieval stories about magic spells making stones fly. Geoffrey of Monmouth credits Merlin with using magic to cause Stonehenge to fly into place, and many medieval Arabic-language authors claim that a magic spell, affixed to blocks of stone, had been used to make the blocks fly to Giza to assemble themselves into the Great Pyramid. If I recall correctly, Polynesia had similar tales of stones walking or flying into place.
But what is most astounding is that Hancock has revised the population of the lost civilization. (In Magicians of the Gods, he identified it as Atlantis, but now it is back to the “lost civilization.”) Its population is now Native American! “[W]e are talking about a Native American civilization growing to maturity at some point during the log interval between the scavenging of the Cerutti mastodon 130,000 years ago and the cataclysmic onset of the Younger Dryas 12,800 years ago. […] [Its] people would have been closely related genetically, linguistically—and at first culturally—to other early Native American populations who remained at the hunter-gatherer stage.”
For the past two decades, Hancock has repeatedly identified the inhabitants of the lost civilization as white. In Fingerprints of the Gods, for example, he called them “white” twelve times, citing Spanish accounts of Mexican and South American stories of “white gods” who visited from beyond the sea and bestowed civilization on the benighted natives. In Fingerprints he examined indigenous art for evidence of Caucasians features, claiming the Olmec had carved in stone the bearded visages of white men from Europe. And in Magicians of the Gods he said that the lost civilization was made up of white men with red hair and beards whose homeland was in the Caucasus Mountains and whom even the Jews mistook for angels on account of their porcelain hue.
And now, all that is gone.
Hancock now concedes that the Old and New Worlds were not in direct contact (at least on the Atlantic side) until the Vikings arrived in the tenth century CE. As though in direct response to criticism that his older version of the lost civilization carried the whiff of Victorian racism, he now posits that its members were Native Americans and that the lost civilization developed entirely in North America before spreading its wonders around the world to everyone else.
But it doesn’t make it better to swap out Native Americans for white people. As I will discuss more in another place, his new version carries with it a dollop of the Noble Savage stereotype and the longstanding effort to imagine Native Americans as living in perfect harmony with nature and possessed of a pure spirituality that the corruption and sin of the West has made impossible for mainstream Euro-American culture. It’s an equally troubling—and almost equally ancient—leftover from the colonial and imperial era.
I wonder, though, if this means that all of the evidence for “white” Atlanteans presented in Hancock’s many earlier books is now, to paraphrase Nixon’s press secretary, inoperative.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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