Yesterday I discussed the newest evidence for a comet impact around 10,800 BCE, which in turn triggered the Younger Dryas Boundary event, the start of a period of profound global cooling and the last Ice Age. I related this to Graham Hancock’s recent advocacy of this event as part of his lost civilization hypothesis (he posted about it this week), and I thought it was worth expanding on this a bit to take a look at Hancock’s promotional materials for his newest book, Magicians of the Gods, which is due to be published in Britain in September and the United States in November. The description clarifies that Hancock has found a way to mesh together many of his previous ideas to try to hide their contradictions behind a new, scientific veneer.
In Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), Hancock proposed that a lost, high global civilization existed prior to 10,500 BCE, and this civilization was destroyed due to the period rearrangement of the earth’s crust when the poles shift position. He argued, as the medieval Arab writers did before him, that the pyramids had been built in the antediluvian period to preserve scientific knowledge that would be lost due to this catastrophe. He proposed that such disasters happen periodically and speculated that a passage that the Roman writer Seneca attributed to the Babylonian priest Berossus (Natural Questions 3.29) indicated that the next pole shift would occur on May 5, 2000, when the “five planets” (which Hancock took to refer to anomalous knowledge of Uranus and Neptune) formed a straight line in the sky. Hancock based this on the quite possibly satirical work of Richard Noone in 5/5/2000, a book he praised in 1997 as “brilliant.”
However, in Underworld (2002), Hancock changed his tune. At that point he had decided that he was no longer in support of the idea that the earth’s crust periodically slips out of position. Obviously, he also stopped predicting doom for May 2000. In Underworld, Hancock tried to go mainstream, especially after the scandals and debunkings of the early 2000s had laid bare the lack of support for his various early claims. In this book, the periodic catastrophism was minimized, and instead Hancock proposed that the lost civilization had drowned beneath rising sea levels at the end of the Younger Dryas, around 9500 BCE.
Now, in his newest book Magicians of the Gods (2015), Hancock is trying to have it both ways by resurrecting the periodic catastrophism of Fingerprints by attributing it to separate and discrete catastrophic events, starting with the comet impact of 10,800 BCE:
The impacts, from comet fragments a mile wide approaching at more than 60,000 miles an hour, generated huge amounts of heat which instantly liquidized millions of square kilometers of ice, destabilizing the Earth’s crust and causing the global Deluge that is remembered in myths all around the world.
Notice the careful subterfuge. In Hancock’s new view, all of his previous claims are correct, and mythology somehow remembered two different global flood events. There are prima facie problems with this right off the top: The ancient flood myths, for example, do not mention anything about comets or conflagrations, and more importantly the flood myths (with one exception) say nothing about an Ice Age. The exception is a Persian variant on the Noachian flood myth in the Avesta (Fargard 2.21-43), which refers to a “fatal winter.” The myth is likely a synthesis of Near Eastern flood stories with Persian elements, since the demon who causes the winter has the Hebrew name for rain. Iran has a much colder winder climate than Mesopotamia, so they would naturally associate the Near Eastern wet season with their snowy winter.
Beyond this, there is pretty clear evidence that Plato meant the destruction of Atlantis to occur during the Great Flood. Plato, to start with, knows very well the Near Eastern tradition of the twin destructions of fire and flood which Berossus describes (Seneca, Natural Questions 3.29) and which appear in Jewish apocalyptic literature (Josephus, Antiquities 1.70, Latin Life of Adam and Eve 50.2, etc.). He talks of the periodic conflagration in Timaeus 22d and the flood in 23a. Indeed, the frame story in this text—which is also his account of Atlantis—has the Egyptian priests specify that these cataclysms destroy high civilizations, e.g. Atlantis. But that’s not all. In the Critias, the unfinished dialogue that offers more details on Atlantis, Plato seems to be recounting the Near East Flood myth, paralleling the familiar text of Genesis 6-7 right before the text cuts off:
For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them. By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power. Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the centre of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spake as follows-- [text breaks off] (trans. Benjamin Jowett)
Compare this carefully to the fall of the angels in Jewish lore, which it inverts a bit, and the fact that the increasing corruption among humankind due to the loss of the divine in Plato is very similar to the corruption of man due to the infusion of angelic seed in Jewish understanding of Genesis as given in the Book of the Watchers, later incorporated into the Book of Enoch. Later versions of the Jewish myth, where the holy sons of Seth lose their divine grace due to their “mortal admixture” with corrupt daughters of Cain. We know from the Timaeus what comes next: Atlantis sinks beneath the waves. In the Critias, there is a clear parallel to the Hebrew flood myth, where God destroys the Nephilim with the Flood—though, weirdly, not the Greek.
In the Greek myth, Zeus floods the world under the pretense of saving it from the conflagration Phaeton started by crashing the sun chariot (Hyginus, Fabula 153), probably a reflection of the Near Eastern twin cataclysms of fire and flood. Plato’s account is very close to Lucian’s hybrid Greek-Near Eastern flood myth from De dea Syria 12:
Of the men of the original creation they tell this tale: they were rebellious, and wilful, and performed unholy deeds, disregarding the sanctity of oaths and hospitality, and behaving cruelly to suppliants; and it was for these misdeeds that the great destruction fell upon them. Straightway the earth discharged a vast volume of water, and the rivers of heaven came down in streams and the sea mounted high. Thus everything became water, and all men perished… (trans. Herbert A. Strong and John Garstang)
Anyway, Hancock proposes that there were two floods, spaced 1,200 years apart, and that these combined to destroy an advanced Ice Age civilization, whose last members were remembered as “the Sages,” “the Magicians,” “the Shining Ones,” and “the Mystery Teachers of Heaven.” The last two names give the game away: Seth and his kin were the “shining” fellows because their faces glowed with divine grace (e.g. Kedrenos, History 1.16), and the Watchers were the mystery teachers who came from Heaven and taught people the arts and sciences. The Sethites and the Watchers are two versions of the same myth of the Sons of God, and thus Hancock is actually on the trail of the myth of the Watchers and the Nephilim. It’s always Watchers and Nephilim.
Oh, and in case that wasn’t clear enough: Hancock also says that these Sons of God built pillars of wisdom in which they encoded their sciences to preserve them form the flood and warn us about the return of cosmic doom from a part of that returning comet. Yes, just like the Watchers and Sethitesm with “God” swapped out for a different cosmic judge. And what are these pillars? Göbekli Tepe and the Giza pyramids, the latter being the place where knowledge was preserved in Arabic versions of the Hermetic flood myth. It isn’t clear how much Hancock knows about this, though, since he seems to be borrowing his views from Andrew Collins, whose Nephilim-centric version of the history of Göbekli Tepe appears to be Hancock’s starting point.
On another note: For the first time since about 1999 or 2000 Graham Hancock has redesigned his website! It’s not particularly well done or innovative (something about the kerning of his name in his logo bothers me), but it’s a big step up for him. I don’t like having “Graham” centered over “Hancock” with a circular Sphinx logo to the left. It looks like “Graham” should have been left justified as well to integrate the logo into the word mark. All in all, though, it is a welcome improvement over his seriously dated old site.
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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