Orbiting the Graham Hancock Universe: "Archaeological Fantasies" Explores Gobekli Tepe and Rebecca Bradley Discusses Gunung Padang
I’ve had a very busy weekend, and I am a bit overwhelmed with work today. Fortunately, there are two excellent new resources that I’d like to call your attention to. First, you will undoubtedly recall the academic paper that caused a bit of a stir not long ago when some engineers adapted and adopted the Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock view of the ancient Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe (though denying Hancock’s contention of a prophecy of a future impact encoded on the stones) and attempted to argue that carvings on the site represent a recording of the sky, including astrological constellations, as they appeared when a comet hit the earth during the Younger Dryas.
On the current Archaeological Fantasies podcast, host Sara “Serra” Head and Jeb Card interview Jens Notroff, a Göbekli Tepe researcher, about the claims, and the conversation was fascinating and informative. While I will leave it to you to listen to the whole thing, I do want to point out something that Notroff brought up that I had not heard before. The stele that is the focus of the comet claims has apparently taken on the name of the “Watcher Stone” or “Watcher Stela,” and Notroff says that the popular appellation came from fringe literature and references the Book of Enoch and the Fallen Angels.
I hadn’t heard that before, though it is certainly of a piece with Andrew Collins’s declaration that the ancient site is a “Temple of the Watchers.” In Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Collins said he would “compelling evidence that the myths of the Watchers of the book of Enoch and the Anunnaki of Mesopotamian myth and legend are memories of the Göbekli builders and their impact on the rise of civilization.” Those pesky Enochian characters keep popping up everywhere.
I encourage you to listed to the complete interview, which touches on a number of important themes, not least of which is the development of the school of fringe thinkers who all share the basic worldview laid out by Ignatius Donnelly, who originated the idea that an advanced lost civilization (identified with the Watchers/Nephilim) had been destroyed by a comet and other natural catastrophes at the end of the Ice Age, and promoted by Graham Hancock and his close friends. It’s a good listen.
Hancock is also closely connected to another great piece, Rebecca Bradley’s open letter to seismologist Danny Hilman Nawatidjaja, the Indonesian researcher who famously declared the site of Gunung Padang to be an Ice Age remnant of an advanced civilization. Graham Hancock reported on this in Magicians of the Gods, where he identified the site with Atlantis. Nawatidjaja had made comments on Bradley’s blog criticizing her evaluation of the evidence from Gunung Padang, an evaluation that had concluded that the site was most likely a relatively recent cultural layer sitting atop a natural hill, and not, as Nawatidjaja would have it, an Ice Age step pyramid.
Bradley was especially savage in noting how Nawatidjaja wants to stand on the scientific method but happily consorts with fringe writers to the exclusion of most mainstream researchers, who have yet to have the same access to his data that someone (whom Nawatidjaja professes not to know) has passed to Hancock and his colleagues in the Donnelly school of Ice Age Nephilim of Atlantis:
I tried to be pretty thorough before writing my critique of your work at Gunung Padang. I sought out every morsel of information I could find that you had released on the net. I watched a number of videos where you were interviewed, or where you toured the site with visiting alternative scholars, like Andrew Collins, Robert Schoch, and Semir Osmanagic of Bosnian “Pyramid” fame. I surveyed a wide sample of media reports and articles about your findings, both credulous and skeptical. Now, you say we should not make judgments or criticisms until your findings have been formally published—but your reservations do not seem to apply to the Atlantis True Believers who have been merrily building great towers of speculation on exactly the same data as I had access to. In effect, you have handed control of the Gunung Padang narrative over to the lunatic fringe, while telling those of us with any professional expertise to shut up and wait for the data. There’s something wrong with that picture.
Do give it a read. It’s a great post!
Then get ready for The Joe Rogan Experience later today, around 4:30 PM ET. Graham Hancock will be on to debate Michael Shermer for three hours. I am not able to say that I will have that much time to listen this afternoon, but I will give it a shot.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.