February 2016

(This interview took place in August 2015 and was featured in The Heretic Magazine issue 7. Please note that the following interview took place in advance of the release of Magicians of the Gods.)

Graham Hancock is the author of Magicians of the Gods and of the major international bestsellers The Sign and The Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods and Heaven’s Mirror. His books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated into 27 languages. His public lectures, radio and TV appearances, including two major TV series – Quest for the Lost Civilization and Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age – have put his ideas before audiences of tens of millions. He has become recognised as an unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity’s past. His web site is: For more on Magicians of the Gods:


Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock


Graham, hello, and welcome to The Heretic Magazine.

Thank you, Andrew. Good to be with you.

We’re very excited to have you on the show and excited to talk about Magicians of the Gods.

Thank you.

Before we do, let me start by saying congratulations on the twenty-year anniversary of Fingerprints of the Gods. It’s amazing. How does it feel? And does it seem like it could possibly be twenty years?

No, no it doesn’t. Time has a way of collapsing. It seems like yesterday, actually – just like yesterday – completely fresh in my memory, the moment I put that book out there and expected it flop like all the previous ones, but for some reason it caught a nerve and I’m grateful to my readers for sticking with me and giving me the opportunity to explore the amazing mysteries of our past.

Well, it was a huge success, as we all know – translated into over thirty different languages. It’s fantastic. But for the two people, perhaps, in the world who haven’t read it, who are listening to us now, what was the essence of it for you? What did you really set out to say? 

It was a process really, Andrew. I found myself frustrated by academic historians and archaeologists. They seemed to have pre-set, pre-established views about the past and their projects seemed mainly to be fitting what they found into the framework established by their predecessors, and they were very reluctant to consider extraordinary possibilities actually of any kind regarding the past. There seems to be a kind of terror of change, the notion that something dramatic might have happened, that it might not have been just this simple, straight-line progress from hunter-gatherers to modern, technological society – that there might have been some interruptions, some hiccups, some problems along the way. They didn’t really seem to want to consider that and I felt, as I began to look at historical mysteries (for example, the Great Pyramid, or, before that, for example, Ethiopia’s claim to possess the lost Ark of the Covenant), that I was dealing with a very rigid unified body of thought, which had already made up its mind about the past, and which was not being effectively opposed by anybody. It was just, ‘this is how things were in the past, guys. Take it in with your mother’s milk. Take it in at school. Take it in through the media. This is the way it was.’ And I thought, well, maybe it wasn’t that way. There are some anomalies, there are some puzzles, which don’t make sense to me. They’re not explained by this theory of history, so I’m going to look at those and I’m going to make the best possible case I can, documented in the way that scientists like, as far as possible (although one can never completely please them), as the alternative case. We live in a society where diversity of views is important and I felt there wasn’t a diversity of views on the past. It doesn’t mean that I claim I’m right about everything I say (I hope I am), but what I’m doing is, I’m putting it out there, I’m documenting it and I hope giving people more choice about the story of our past. That really was my project with Fingerprints of the Gods

And, as you’ve always said, it’s a work in progress – new discoveries are being made all the time.

Yes, very much so.

And we’ll come on to that. But, let me just ask you, how was it received at the time? Historians, academics – what was the response? 

Very bad [laughs]. The more positive and welcoming and nurturing the public response was, the more negative, hostile and cruel the academic response was. It seemed that my great sin was not to have written a book questioning the established model of the past, but to have written a successful book questioning the established model of the past. That could not be allowed, so I had to be taken down a peg or two, I had to be attacked, they had to get together (you know, their little ritual of all their friends in the media), and they all had to agree amongst one another that I was this very bad person who was deliberately misleading the public and so on. A lot of it was ad hominem. A lot of it, actually, didn’t address points and issues raised in the book. A lot of it simply was, ‘oh, Hancock’s made a lot of money from this book, so that must have been why he did it. Actually, I had no idea that the book was going to be a success – I thought it was going to be a flop. I had no idea, but clearly in the public perception of the past question marks had been raised and people were looking for answers and I think that’s why the book took off, because intelligent, thoughtful, questioning, open-minded people out there were not satisfied with the story they were being given by history – it’s as simple as that, really.

It was an exciting time, it really was. It struck a nerve. I was in London – I remember all the conferences. We look back at you and Bauval at Conway Hall – all these gigs with ravenous crowds of people just starving for the insights that Fingerprints provided. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the view of academia – the conventional view – and how that changed over the past twenty years.

Well, I think the most noticeable feature (and this doesn’t just apply to academia)… What I noticed most strongly in the change in the last twenty years is the collapse of trust. People do not trust ‘the authorities’ any more. It actually doesn’t matter what they’re authorities in – the moment somebody is set up as the official authority on a subject, people out there don’t trust that person. And there’s a really good reason for that: because the authorities have lied to us again and again and again and again and again… Deliberately lied, deliberately concealed. The association of authority with truth is no longer there. Authority is associated in the public mind with lies, and that’s because the authorities deserve that, because the buggers have lied all the time and continue to lie. And if they’re not lying, they dissemble and they spin and they alter things. It’s all about managing and manipulating public opinion in a democracy. I mean, we’re told that we live in this fantastic democracy, but actually the ability to have, to hold and to press home a free opinion is not that great in a democracy, because what the political process in democracies is all about is conning the electorate – it’s persuading the electorate to go for a particular point of view and that may be done by pressing all kinds of emotional and ideological buttons, rather than simple logic and reason.

So, we live in an environment which is riddled with lies and it’s quite natural, as a result of that, that an intelligent, discerning public should cease to trust the authorities. So I would say in 1995 there was still a great deal of trust for the authorities and when the big mainstream academics, Dr X and Professor Y, said that Hancock was wrong, a large number of people said, ‘OK, yeah, Hancock’s wrong.’ That is not the mood in the air today.

But there’s a large amount of hypocrisy, or perhaps the greatest compliment you can be given is the fact that magazines like New Science magazine are now changing their tune. People who criticised you twenty years ago are now on the bandwagon that ancient civilization goes back far further than we originally thought.

Yes, it’s a curious situation. The emperor really does wear no clothes. This is the thing. It just takes a while for us all to get it – that that’s the case. What has happened is in the last twenty years – as well as a profound change of public mood, the sense that we’ve been hoodwinked, and an urgent need to find out the truth – as well as that there has been a series of very significant archaeological discoveries, which cannot be fitted into the mainstream paradigm. This when paradigms shift, actually. They don’t shift because people want them to shift; they shift because the mass of evidence that can no longer be explained by the old paradigm eventually overwhelms them, and they just can’t hack it any more, and so obviously Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is an example of this process; a site that firmly dates back beyond 11,600 years ago, that is at least 6,000 years older than any other known megalithic site, that is highly advanced, that is associated with a stunning innovation in agriculture at that exact same moment in Anatolia. We cannot simply explain this as a gradual, linear evolution from hunter-gatherer into settled agriculturalists. There is something missing, because here we have people who have totally got it with megalithic architecture – they really understand it. This isn’t like the work of a beginner – this is polished work that we’re seeing at Göbekli Tepe. There’s a tradition behind this – it can’t just have sprung up out of the blue; like some smart hunter-gatherer though, ‘OK, I’ll make a 50-ton megalith this morning.’ No, definitely not. And for that to be combined with this innovative approach of (I won’t call it the invention of agriculture, because I’m quite certain that agriculture existed before)… Indeed, what we’re looking at at Göbekli Tepe is a consistent transfer of technology from a people who know about agriculture to a people who don’t – and that’s associated with a transfer of technology about megalithic architecture as well – and none of these things can be explained by the existing model. It’s just not good enough to say, ‘Oh well, they must have been very smart hunter-gatherers.’ No, they needed to develop the skills and we don’t see that on site.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

Göbekli Tepe


So, Göbekli Tepe is a great example of why Magicians of the Gods (if I may) was necessary. It’s one of the things that has come about as a new piece of evidence. It really goes a long way to substantiating what you were saying twenty years ago in Fingerprints. But let me just ask you a couple of things about Göbekli Tepe (we’ve both been there several times). It was bubble-wrapped, right? It was buried thoughtfully and preserved. Why?

Yes, it was deliberate buried.

By whom, and why?

Well, see, they don’t have the answer to that question yet. Nineteen years of excavation have still not come up with either who or why. This is the big mystery of the site and, furthermore, let us not forget that by far the larger part of the site is still under the ground. This was brought home to me when I walked around the site with the late Klaus Schmidt. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet him and actually spend the best part of three days with him in 2013. He was very generous with his time – I want to put that on record. This man, Klaus Schmidt, who has really excavated and explored the single most important archaeological site in the world, was a man of great simplicity and humility, who knew perfectly well who I was, but didn’t make the sign of the cross and turn his back on me. He welcomed me and said, ‘OK, let’s talk. Let me show you around, give you my point of view.’ And one of the several pertinent points that he made was: they have this date of 9600 BC (it keeps coming through for Göbekli Tepe). The very fact that the site was deliberately buried allows us to be very confident about the dates that come from it. Other megalithic sites have been tramped all over by god knows how many different cultures over thousands and thousands of years. You have the problem of falsely young dates, of carbon being introduced into the record which doesn’t belong to that period, but Göbekli Tepe is pristine and, as Klaus Schmidt pointed out to me, 9600 BC – that date that keeps coming through like a drum beat at Göbekli Tepe – well, that is absolutely the date of the end of the ice age.  

If you can put a particular date on it, it’s there. It’s the end of the Younger Dryas. We have this bizarre episode, where roughly from 15,000 years ago down to 13,000 years ago the Earth seems to be warming up. It’s been in the ice age for 100,000 years, but it seems to be warming up – things are getting better – in some ways it’s almost as warm as it is today. The ice caps are nicely, politely melting slowly and disappearing into the sea. Everything is very good. And then something truly horrendous happens to the world, and we’ll come on to that. Something really bad happens – there’s a gush, a giant outflow of freezing water into the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans, sea levels rise overnight and then a massive deep freeze sets in. That is because oceanic circulation has been disrupted by this flush of freezing water into it, and we go into a radical deep freeze from 12,800 years ago down to 11,600 years ago (9,600 BC), when – wham! – the climate changes again, unbelievably dramatically, a huge warming trend – 10˚C in just a few years all over the world – summer has come, winter has ended, and at that exact moment a people who already knew how to create stunning megalithic architecture, and who were fully versed with agriculture, turned up at Göbekli Tepe and appeared to have said to the local hunter-gatherers, ‘Hey guys, we can teach you some stuff.’ And that’s what intrigues me about it and I don’t see it explained as a simple, gradual evolution. I see it as a big, big, big problem for the mainstream model of history.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

Pillar at Göbekli Tepe


Göbekli Tepe is not alone in that area. There are other sites that have yet to be excavated nearby and I know you’ve been to these.

Karahan Tepe? In fact, I was about to make that point about Klaus Schmidt, because when he showed me around the site he pointed to certain areas and let me know that there are huge further megalithic circles underground there – in fact, possibly as many, he said, as fifty times as much as they’ve already excavated. I mean that means we’re dealing with a kind of Rome of the prehistoric world. It means we’re dealing with just a giant, giant complex – it makes Stonehenge look like a children’s toy. And not excavated and, furthermore, no immediate plan to excavate it. Now, one can say, ‘OK, great, good archaeologists, they’re conserving the past, we love you,’ but this site needs to be excavated. The story of our past his hidden in that site and we actually do need to know who we are and where we came from and Göbekli Tepe, I think, is one of the sites that can provide the answers if it’s excavated – if they carry on. To me it’s absolutely stunning that the German Archaeological Institute claims it has no money for further excavation at Göbekli Tepe after another year or two from now. I just can’t believe that. I mean, resources should be plentifully available for such an excavation, and if not from the German state, then from the private sector. It’s obvious that it has to be done and up ‘til now I would say the German Archaeological Institute have done a pretty good job and I hope they are able to continue excavating.  

Nearby – fifty, sixty miles away – is Karahan Tepe, another pot-bellied hill sitting in some farmer’s field with lots of little ‘T’-shaped pillars jutting up out of the ground. I say little, because we’re seeing the top two feet of them. Underneath the ground there are buried these huge Göbekli Tepe-type pillars. Nobody’s excavated the site – it’s just sitting there in plain view – and you can go, anybody can go, people take souvenirs, they’re using the ancient stones as materials to fence in a fire. It’s just extraordinary, really. So, there’s this kind of wilful stupidity about our past. We have precious, precious sites here and they do deserve and need first of all absolute respect and, secondly, respectful, thorough investigation to see what’s going on.

The whole area is so amazing. You look at Cappadocia with those underground cities – that’s not far away. 

I think the question of those underground cities is not yet resolved, either.

I was going to ask you, do they tie in to this whole story in terms of what happened?

Yes, they do. I certainly talk about them in the book. There is a tradition in the region which speaks not only of a flood, but also of a deep freeze and speaks specifically of the construction of underground enclosures as places of refuge from the dire winter that is about to fall upon the world. These are Noah’s Arks in a way – they call them vars or varras – they’re places where the seeds of all future life are to be kept. The story is actually quite identical to the story of Noah’s Ark (in this case the Noah character is called Yima) and it fits perfectly with these underground cities in Turkey.  

A problem with any pure, stone structure is dating it. Göbekli Tepe, we can date it because there’s provenance, because it was deliberately buried, it was sealed, there was no intrusion of later materials. But a place like Derinkuyu, for example, or Kaymaklı – how do we date those really? They’re cut out of solid rock, they’ve been used continuously down the ages and people have used them as places of shelter from enemies (although the last place I would shelter from an enemy is in an underground city where I could get locked in), people have used them for storage – all kinds of purposes. So, any organic material that we can carbon date from inside those structures is a complete waste of time. There’s no saying what epoch it came from and it tells us nothing about the origin of the site. So, archaeologists say, ‘well, it was the Phrygians.’ Really? On what basis? What Phrygian inscription do we have saying, we made Kaymaklı or Derinkuyu? I don’t think so. They’re just there. Yes, I’m sure the Phrygians used them, but the suggestion that I make in the book and that a number of others have looked into is the possibility that these so-called underground cities go right back to the end of the last ice age, that they go back to the same period as Göbekli Tepe.

It would make great sense. Also in the area, speaking of Noah’s Ark, you have what I believe to be the mountain of Noah and Judi Dagh, maybe a three- or four-hour drive from Göbekli Tepe. You have, obviously, Edessa, with Abraham and Sarah. You have the Mesopotamian legends. You have the god, Sin. Do you think that the great biblical, and otherwise historical, legacies of that area have any kind of memory of the civilization that created Göbekli Tepe, because it just seems to be an epicentre for really sacred societies.

I absolutely do. I completely agree with you, Andrew. I think there is a memory. I think there is an echo. It think that’s what it’s all about. In a sense Göbekli Tepe is a kind of Noah’s Ark in stone, actually. All of the types of creatures, whether crawling upon the ground or four-legged or winged – whatever type of creatures you find in the Noah’s Ark story, they’re all depicted at Göbekli Tepe and, furthermore, some of them were also sacrificed at Göbekli Tepe, and Noah performs a sacrifice at the end of the Ark journey. It’s a very curious thing. Look, there’s no way that sea-level rise washed a boat up anywhere in Anatolia, OK? And certainly not on the mountains of Ararat. No, no, no – definitely not – 16,000 feet up? Forget it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sea-level rise. Sea level goes up and down, it’s very alarming. We’ve had a 400-foot rise in sea level since the end of the last ice age, but no way have we had boats carried 16,000 feet about sea level. Or 12,000 – forget it. That hasn’t happened.

But did a group of survivors of an earlier civilization – a lost civilization, destroyed in the cataclysms at the end of the ice age – did a group of survivors choose to place themselves in Anatolia in that region that is now Turkey? Yes, I think that’s very likely. It’s a really good place to go, and there are signs that there may have been outreach before. I don’t think that the big transfer of technology that takes place 12,800 years ago down to 11,600 years ago is the whole story. I think there was outreach before. I think we’re looking at a culture that had reached out to hunter-gatherer peoples around the world – possibly had a very strict and rigid code of conduct in relation to them – but when the cataclysm came and they had to go and take shelter, they went and took shelter in places where they already had connections, in my view.

So, it’s interesting, because there are other areas, as I understand, you explore in Magicians of the Gods in Indonesia. What have you found there?

Well, this is completely intriguing and again this was also part of the process that led me to decide, OK, I actually do have to do another book, because this evidence keeps on coming out and it needs to be put into a context. And what it was with Indonesia (this really goes back to 2011/2012), we have a geologist, who is Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, who is Caltech trained and is Indonesia’s leading expert in megathrust earthquakes. This is a highly technical guy with a huge international reputation on a matter of grave geological concern, which is megathrust earthquakes. But he’s also an open-minded guy with an interest in the past and, like any open-minded person, he doesn’t confine himself solely to his area of specialism, and he became interested in what was thought to be a natural hill about three hours’ drive west of Bandung at a place called Gunung Padang. Gunung Padang means – people get confused about this – in the Indonesian language Gunung Padang means ‘Mountain Field’, but in the Sundanese language (which is the language spoken around Gunung Padang) it means ‘Mountain of Light’ or ‘Mountain of Enlightenment’, and there is an ancient tradition of meditation and sacred retreat on this so-called ‘hill’. Furthermore, on top of it – right on top in a series of terraces – is a complex megalithic structure. It’s made of what is called columnar basalt. Columnar basalt forms naturally into a blocky form, always laid vertically when done by nature. The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland is an excellent example of a natural columnar basalt site. What we have at Gunung Padang is not a natural columnar basalt site. We have a site where columnar basalt has been used as a construction material and is built into structures and is laid in a form that is never found in nature. Nobody has ever doubted that the megalithic site on the top of Gunung Padang is a man-made megalithic site – it’s been recognised as such since 1914 – and thought to be about 2,500 years old. In other words, interesting, moderately old, but doesn’t really rock your boat, you know.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

Gunung Padang


But Danny didn’t like the look of it. As a geologist, he’s looking at this hill and he thinks, ‘I’m not sure that’s a hill. It looks very suspiciously constructed to me, with a megalithic site on top of it.’ So, Danny has all the equipment. He has all his friends in geology. They put together a team of volunteers and they get out there with ground-penetrating radar, with seismic tomography. They get down there with electrical resistivity equipment. They are looking into this structure and, lo and behold, it turns out it is man-made – it’s not a hill, it’s a bloody pyramid sitting there in the middle of Indonesia, a hundred metres high, and with a megalithic site on top of it. And, even more intriguing, there are chambers inside this thing – at least three, large, what they call ‘high resistivity bodies’; rectilinear, regular-shaped chambers buried deep in the structure, so obviously we want to know what’s going on.  

This received some initial coverage back in 2011/12 and I was immediately intrigued. And then, quite out of the blue, I received an email from Danny Hilman, the geologist who’s doing the work at Gunung Padang, saying would I like to come over to Indonesia and speak at a conference, where Gunung Padang will be discussed. So, I said, sure, especially since my old friend Robert Schoch, the geologist from Boston University, who’s been responsible for re-dating the Sphinx, was also invited to that conference. So I thought this would be really interesting and went on over to Indonesia and Schoch and I did a detailed site visit of Gunung Padang with Danny Hilman, and it was very good for me to hear Schoch’s opinion of this as another geologist. And he’s absolutely convinced, with Danny’s evidence, we are dealing with a man-made structure here.  

Now, here’s the additional problem: part of their toolkit was core drilling, where you put down a tubular drill and haul up material from deep, intact layers. And what they were getting were mixtures of blocks that had been worked by human beings and organic material dating back, in some cases, more than 22,000 years, going right back into the last ice age. This completely blows the established model of history out of the water, in some ways even more so than Göbekli Tepe. So, I decided I needed to know more and in June/July 2014 I made another, much more extensive, research visit to Gunung Padang. Again, Danny was gracious enough to accompany me and give me the benefit of his knowledge and investigations, and then we did a big journey around the whole of Indonesia looking at other megalithic mysteries in Indonesia, because those islands are just full of unexplained megaliths.  

Every few years a discovery is made in Indonesia that rewrites history: we’ve had homo floresiensis; we’ve had, recently, Upper Palaeolithic paintings 40,000 years old, as old as anything in Europe, possibly much older; recently, engravings on a shell – geometric engravings dating back half a million years, before anatomically modern humans even existed. Indonesia is constantly surprising us and I suggest the next way it’s going to surprise us is with a lot of hard evidence about the lost civilization that haunts our myths and memories, and has done so for thousands of years.

Wow – I can’t wait to read about that. It’s a really under-appreciated part of the world. I’ve been to Indonesia – I haven’t been to that site – I’m going to put it on my list. And we have this focus on things like the Bosnian pyramid. These sites are all over the world – places that we just assumed were natural, not man-made, are turning out to be man-made and far older than any of would have ever dreamed.

I think we have to be careful with all of these sites. We don’t want to become credulous groupies of the latest pyramid-shaped mountain. What is needed is a way of narrowing down the field. I mean, frankly, there are a lot of mountains that look like pyramids and most of them aren’t pyramids, but some of them may be and we need to find a way to narrow down the field. Where enough conditions are met, then excavation should be allowed, and should be supervised and encouraged and done in the right way.  

I absolutely have not made up my mind on the Bosnia issue. I was not deeply impressed by the so-called Pyramid of the Sun, and the tunnels are three kilometres away – they’re not inside it, they’re in another place. But I think that Sam Osmanagić has brought up enough material to justify a thorough investigation, so that we can actually set the matter to rest and say, yes, we do have a pyramid (or a group of pyramids) or no, we don’t – not leave it hanging in limbo. And, because the academic establishment is so hostile to him, it’s really been impossible to do the excavations that need to be done. So, I regard Bosnia as a case that is not closed yet. I remain open-minded upon it. I wasn’t, personally, massively impressed, but I know that other people have been. I’d like to see the work done to satisfy ourselves – are we dealing with a pyramid or not? 

There are certain characteristics that most pyramids have: they’re aligned to the cardinal points, they have a causeway, they have chambers, they are near water – very frequently lakes – so maybe the exceptionally ancient ones didn’t have those characteristics. But the ones of so-called Dynastic Egypt certainly do, so I agree with you that there’s sort of a frenzy of ‘oh, it must be a pyramid’, when, in fact, it’s just a hill.

Because that sets us back. We have to be rigorous in our own way, but when (as has been the case in Bosnia) we get an absolute blockage and a halt of the investigation that needs to be done, that can hardly be blamed on the enthusiasts. This is the authorities who are saying ‘we know the truth about the past.’ Well, I’m sorry, they don’t know the truth about the past and the only way to know is actually to investigate. So, if you block and prevent all investigations and enquiries, then nobody’s interests are being served.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

The alleged ‘pyramid’ of Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina


How about Easter Island? That features in Magicians of the Gods, does it not?

It does, and Easter Island is a really intriguing case. Again, Robert Schoch’s geological work has been very, very important here. I think Schoch is the first person to have… not to have noticed, but to have noticed the significance of the fact that in the Rano Raraku quarry we have Easter Island statues – Moai, as they’re called – that are buried thirty feet in the ground. Actually, it was Thor Heyerdahl who did this investigation back in the 1950s and again in the 1980s, and I had the privilege of knowing Thor Heyerdahl. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, incredibly open-minded and very willing to consider the possibility of a lost civilization. So, back in the ‘50s, as we know, he was very intrigued by Easter Island, and the impression you get when you walk up into Rano Raraku is that these heads are just sticking out of the ground, but what Heyerdahl showed is that once you excavate down, you find that they have bodies and that the bodies continue, in some cases, thirty feet or more under the ground. And what they’re continuing under (this is where Schoch’s geological study is so important) is sedimentation. We can pretty much rule out the notion of some kind of landslide. This is not what happened here. This is the slow build-up of sedimentation. Then let us consider the size of Easter Island. Well, it’s the size of a postage stamp – it’s a tiny little thing. Where’s all this earth coming from that is settling as sedimentation, borne by wind and water, so that it can bury these gigantic statues thirty feet under sedimentation? What Schoch’s analysis suggests is that it’s just crazy to say that these statues are only 700 years old, which is what the mainstream does. You just don’t get that amount of sedimentation in that period of time. So, right there there is a huge geological mystery in Easter Island.

And then, beyond that, there are the remarkable similarities (it’s just impossible to resist them) between the Easter Island figures and the Göbekli Tepe pillars, particularly the way that the arms are crooked at the side, and the hands are placed across the belly and there’s a belt. Heyerdahl was noticing the belt on the Easter Island figures and on the figures of Kon-Tiki Viracocha, up in Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, way back and we look at this again now and there’s really an eerie similarity. The Easter Island figures are more finished – they’re more human in form – but the essential posture of the figure is the same.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

One of the Maoi on Easter Island


And then, of course, we have the whole story of Hiva in Easter Island – there’s this tradition of a lost land that was submerged beneath the waves, which goes back very ancient in Easter Island and in Polynesia and actually huge amounts of land were swallowed up by the sea at the end of the last ice age, and Easter Island was much bigger than it is today. It’s a bigger Easter Island 12,000 to 15,000 years ago that gives you the possibility for that sedimentation to settle in in enough time. That begins to make perfect sense.  

So, again and again what I come to is that all around the world we are looking at puzzling little bits of archaeology, which on their own may not add up to very much, but by the time you put them together with every other piece, every other anomaly that’s popped up, you begin to find that the established model of history cannot explain it. We have something very, very odd that happened to the world between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago and, thanks to the work of a group of scientists (mainly, but not exclusively, in the United States), we now know what that very odd thing was. This is really, for me, the revelation and the breakthrough, and this is why, in addition to the inexplicable archaeological sites, it’s the evidence for what happened between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago that really convinced me I had to write a book about this, because I did not have a smoking gun when I wrote Fingerprints of the Gods.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

Maoi on Easter Island


I considered a number of possibilities, of which the most intriguing was the Earth-crust displacement theory, which was originally put forward by Charles Hapgood and then was greatly elaborated and refined by Rand and Rose Flem-Ath. I’m not dismissing the Earth-crust displacement theory, by the way. This is something that should remain, I think, an open question and requires further investigation – our planet is constantly capable of surprising us – but it involves invoking a number of forces, which geologists are very reluctant to consider or accept. So, I was intrigued when in – roughly from 2005, certainly from 2007 onwards – evidence began to emerge that the earth had been hit by a comet 12,800 years ago, and I have long ago had an article on my website by Flavio Barbiero, which actually looks at the implications of a glancing blow from a comet and the Earth’s crust. When these objects, whether comets or asteroids, come in at up to a hundred thousand kilometres an hour, if they’re miles across and they hit the Earth, you have a profoundly destabilising incident on the crust of the Earth there and this needs to be taken into account. But what I was struck by was this accumulation of absolutely compelling evidence about a comet 12,800 years ago – initially very slow and then it began to build up and build up and build up and build up. Now, I don’t know if you want to talk about that at the moment, but we can go into that.

Very much so. 

You see, there’s long been a mystery called the Younger Dryas – geologists call it the Younger Dryas – it’s this period of deep freeze that I spoke about: the Earth’s coming out of the ice age, then 12,800 years ago – wham! – it goes back into the ice age. It stays there for 1,200 years and 11,600 years ago it came out. This episode was associated with a number of tumultuous events around the world, including megafauna extinctions. What caused it? Nobody really knew. There was a suggestion that a flush of meltwater into the oceans would have done it, but why a flush of meltwater? Actually, it doesn’t make sense at all. There needs to be a source for it. And this is what began to come out from 2005 onwards.

I’ll cut to the chase, briefly. The nub of the evidence is that the North American ice cap, which was then still two miles deep, was hit by at least four fragments of a giant comet. That comet (the astronomers who are working on this believe) was drawn into the solar system perhaps as much as 20,000 years ago. They believe that it was as much as two hundred kilometres in diameter – this was a very, very large object. After it was captured by the Sun, and began to orbit the Sun on an Earth-crossing orbit (and, indeed, crossing the orbits of other planets, as well), it began to fragment, which comets do. Think of Shoemaker-Levy 9, which hit Jupiter in 1994. I think everybody remembers that freight train of fragments, and each one of those fragments was of a size that would have killed our world. Thank you, Jupiter. Jupiter takes it for us – takes one for the team – again and again and again. But it seems that 20,000 years ago one got past Jupiter and it went into orbit, it began to fragment and 12,800 years ago the Earth crossed the orbit – already the debris stream – of that fragmenting giant comet. We were hit by multiple impactors – perhaps a dozen, perhaps more – of which four pretty large ones, up to a kilometre in width, hit the North American ice cap. 

Now, you have these kilometre-wide objects coming in at 60,000 miles an hour (a hundred thousand kilometres), they’re terrifyingly huge, they pack an enormous amount of heat energy – kinetic energy. As they come in and they hit the ice cap, instantly liquidised are a million square miles of ice, turn into iced water and flow off into the Arctic and into the Atlantic oceans. Furthermore, the fallout continues. It seems to come in from a north-westerly direction and it crosses the northern United States and Canada (north-west to south-east), it then crosses the Atlantic Ocean, there are further bombardments of fragments on the European ice cap, and the final fragments hit as far afield as Syria. 

Are the Carolina Bays an example of this event? 

I have deliberately not invoked the Carolina Bays as evidence for this, because there is so much bogged-down controversy around them. I think the Carolina Bays are extremely interesting. I think there is a good chance that they’re fragments of this, but they’re not the strongest evidence we have. So, bearing in mind that I’m dealing with an extremely hostile academic establishment, I decided it was better to present the really good evidence, rather than the iffy evidence, which just gives them a stick to beat me with. I don’t need the Carolina Bays to prove that there was a comet. If they were part of it, so be it, but I don’t need them. 

The problem is: when you get large cometary fragments (or asteroid, for that matter) hitting an ice cap, the first thing is the ice cap is deep – it’s up to two miles deep – no crater on the ground – there’s no obvious crater. You might have some shock and impact stretches there, but there’s no obvious deep crater on the ground, which would immediately say, ‘cosmic impact’. So, what happens is that a transient crater is formed in the ice cap and then it melts and the debris blanket may get carried hundreds of miles away from where the impact occurred. The reason that this has been identified is that the team of scientists (there are more than thirty of them – they publish regularly in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in the Geological Journal, all over the place – these are very highly credentialed guys) have been looking at impact proxies.  

When you get a gigantic cosmic impact there are certain very definite signs: one of them is melt glass, the kind of melt glass that you get from nuclear explosions; another one is nanodiamonds, tiny little diamonds that are caused by shock and heat; carbon spherules. There is a whole range of impact proxies, and there is only one other event where you get the massive accumulation of impact proxies all around the world that you get 12,800 years ago and that one other event is the so-called K-T event, the event that made the dinosaurs extinct 65 million years ago. We do have a crater there – it’s under the Gulf of Mexico – but for a long time that crater couldn’t be found and the initial evidence for the K-T event was based on impact proxies. The exact same (how can I put it?) crowd of impact proxies that you find distributed all around the world in a synchronous moment 65 million years ago, you find them again 12,800 years ago.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

A slice of meteorite


This is really, really disturbing because our scientific community has been saying that major cosmic impacts – extinction-level events, events that are actually capable of threatening or wiping out our civilization – are very rare. (According to NASA’s pronouncements on this, you’re looking at intervals of 100 million years between such events.) So, we all accept now that there was such an impact 65 million years ago – we all accept that that’s what made the dinosaurs extinct – well, historians have not seen any point of connecting such a thing to the origins of human civilization, because there weren’t any human beings 65 million years ago. And if the next one’s 100 million years, we’re not even going to look at another one for at least another 35 million years, so it’s irrelevant to the story of human civilization – surely? Well, yes, it’s irrelevant to the story of human civilization until you start finding impact proxies all over the world from 12,800 years ago, which is yesterday – yesterday – in our terms, yesterday in historic terms, the very backyard of history. Suddenly we have a problem. The evidence of the comet specialists is utterly compelling – I present it in great detail in Magicians of the Gods and they were kind enough to correspond with me and fact-check with me so I get it right. The evidence is absolutely compelling that we had an extinction-level event 12,800 years ago. 

Can you give a couple of examples of impact proxies? 

Nanodiamonds – tiny diamonds; tiny, tiny diamonds – they’re on a nano scale. They are produced by this. Melted earths, which turn into glass. There are certain impact proxies which only melt at 2,000˚C. You don’t get that kind of heat from house fires. This is the heat of a gigantic cosmic impact and, as I say, it’s the same proxies that you get from 65 million years ago. We have these two episodes in the Earth’s history and one of them, disturbingly, is extremely recently and has gone unnoticed until now.

All sorts of other reasons have been put forward why the megafauna in North America suddenly went extinct. ‘Oh, it was overkill by all those vicious hunter-gatherers.’ Well, I don’t know. I know some hunter-gatherers and they’re not vicious and they don’t overkill. Hunter-gatherers are the one human culture that lives in tremendous harmony with their environment. They tend to be respectful of the animals they hunt. They don’t just round them up and kill them by the million. I’ve always felt that that was a most unlikely explanation and a very insulting one to hunter-gatherer cultures. 

But now we know what it’s all about. A giant comet hits the Earth 12,800 years ago. First off, the North American ice cap is just utterly smashed to pieces by this and you have a devastating flood that pours off it. We can all walk through those flood lands today: that’s the Channeled Scablands of Washington State; that’s Upper and Lower Grand Coulee. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Upper and Lower Grand Coulee, but there are these just massive chisel marks in the ground, like some giant being miles and miles tall took a huge chisel and just shoved out a thirty-mile-long chisel cut in the ground. But what that was cut by was flooding off the North American ice cap – dense quantities of not just water, but in that water are jostling ice bergs full of rocks, whole forests have been ripped up by their roots – there’s mud and earth – it’s a thick slurry that’s coming down and it’s ploughing… it’s just tearing up the earth. So, the Scablands are rightly called scablands, because the earth has been plucked and pulled, and bits of rock have been picked up and carried and dumped elsewhere. 

I had an amazing journey – we started in Portland, Oregon, and we finished in Minneapolis, Minnesota – with Randall Carlson, who is a great catastrophist researcher and who I hope very soon will be bringing out a book of his own, because Randall has just so much to teach in this area. He’s spent the last 25 years walking the walk across those Channeled Scablands, really getting to understand it and growing profoundly dissatisfied with the established explanation, which is (cut a long story short) that there was a glacial lake called Glacial Lake Missoula, that that glacial lake eventually broke the ice dam that impounded it and released a large amount of water onto the Channeled Scablands, not once, but up to eighty times. You see, mainstream science doesn’t like immediate, single, one-off cataclysms. What it likes is nice, polite gradual events. And if you can have eighty relatively moderate floods coming out of Lake Missoula, that is much more acceptable to the uniformitarian state of mind than one gigantic flood, which does the whole work in two weeks. But that is what the evidence on the ground confronts us with in the Channeled Scablands and, lest one thinks, what is Hancock talking about, he’s not a geologist – true, I’m not a geologist, I’m a journalist, I’m a reporter, I’m reporting stuff.  

Randall Carlson has done the work, but even before Randall Carlson, intriguingly, was J Harlen Bretz back in the 1910s and the 1920s, who was the first person to propose that the catastrophic damage that we see across the Channeled Scablands was caused by a flood, and not by eighty small floods, but by one humungous flood. Bretz was a field geologist – highly qualified guy. For saying that he was utterly dismissed by his colleagues. He was subjected to the most horrific abuse – continual abuse. ‘How dare he say that there had been a flood? Of course this was just slow, gradual events of the kinds we see today. What could have been the source of all this water that Bretz is imagining?’ Again and again and again he’s attacked, he’s humiliated, he’s put in a terrible place, he gets depressed, but he still continues and, lo and behold, he lives to the age of 98 and in that process he sees the recognition gradually dawn that there were gigantic floods across the Channeled Scablands. He famously said, when he was awarded the Penrose Medal (which is the highest honour amongst geologists in America), ‘My only regret is that all my enemies are dead, so I have no one left to gloat over.’

Bravo. Bravo. 

But he had to compromise – in order to get his field evidence for gigantic flooding accepted as such, he had to be prepared to say it could have been a series of floods. So, latterly in his life, but always with great reluctance, he bought into the Glacial Lake Missoula and that’s what then allowed them to say, ‘OK, Bretz was right.’

Bear in mind that the issue of flooding in the Channeled Scablands is actually not an issue that the scientists working on the comet have even been looking at. That’s not been one of their concerns. They’ve been establishing proof for comet impacts on the North American ice cap from other evidence. They actually haven’t even considered the implication of the Channeled Scablands. But when we go back to Bretz, when we look at the Channeled Scablands in detail, and when we correlate that with the new evidence for a comet that 12,800 years ago (at least four large fragments) hit the North American ice cap, suddenly we have a source for all that water. We don’t need eighty little floods out of Glacial Lake Missoula. Yes, Missoula was involved – it got filled up in an instant with the water that came pouring down off the ice cap and, yes, it did overflow, but it was not the culprit. It was a bystander in this horrendous disaster. So, this is the new model that is emerging. 

Sorry, I’m just rattling on endlessly, but, as you can see, I’m enthusiastic about this subject. I have to add that it appears we had a second encounter with the comet 11,600 years ago and the person who presciently foresaw that was the British astrophysicist, Sir Fred Hoyle, as far back as the 1980s. Looking at that mysterious global warming of 11,600 years ago – remember I mentioned 12,800 years ago the Earth goes suddenly cold? – 11,600 years ago equally suddenly it’s out of it. Well, Hoyle looked at this and he did the calculations and back in the 1980s (round about ’86 or ’87) he published on this and he said that he thought that that warming was caused by a comet impact, and he thought that that comet, or multiple fragments of a comet, hit the oceans – most probably the Pacific Ocean. It threw up an enormous amount of water vapour into the upper atmosphere, completely shrouding the Earth in water vapour, and thus creating a massive greenhouse effect, which resulted in the sudden warming of the planet in 9,600 BC.  

So, now we have a single agent. We have a giant comet that was once 200 kilometres wide drawn into the inner solar system, breaks into fragments – one encounter with the orbit of the Earth 12,800 years ago. For the next 1,200 years ago we miss the torus (the stream of debris), then we cross it again – we have another impact 11,600 years ago. The first one puts us into the Younger Dryas, the second one pulls us out of the Younger Dryas. Right there, in the foundations of history, in the very moment that everything we’ve been told is history for the last 11,600 years, right there in the very foundations we now have a huge problem: we have the evidence for an extinction-level event. Oops! Historians and archaeologists didn’t know about it. They didn’t take it into account. All their models of the origins of civilization are based on that not happening. Well, it did happen and what’s needed now is a radical revision of history, taking account of an extinction-level event that occurred just yesterday.

It’s amazing and it’s also very disturbing, because the question I’m wondering is: what’s the likelihood of it happening again? What kind of cycle is this comet on? Does it have a name? Does it have an orbit that we’re aware of?

We know some parts of it. Comet Encke is part of the debris stream and the debris stream is firmly identified as what we call the Taurid meteor shower, of which comet Encke is a part, and we cross the torus (imagine it as a giant doughnut surrounding the orbit of the Earth – it’s about thirty million miles wide) twice a year, in June and November. When we cross it in June we do get meteor showers, but we don’t see them because they’re coming in from the daylight side. When we cross it in late October / early November everyone calls them the Halloween fireworks. We have often very prominent meteor displays at that time, the first two weeks of November, the last two weeks of October – roughly thereabouts – as we’re crossing the Taurid meteor stream. As I say, we already know there are some big objects in it – comet Encke is about five kilometres in diameter. There are many others (Oljato) which are known, but the astronomers who’ve worked on this (again, this goes back to Sir Fred Hoyle, Victor Clube, Bill Napier, Emilio Spedicato, quite a number of others who’ve worked on this) have done back calculations from the debris stream and their opinion is that there are several very large objects still in orbit in the Taurid meteor shower, some of which may be as much as thirty kilometres wide.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock

Computer-generated image of comet Encke


I don’t want to spread gloom and doom – I think it’s a very dangerous thing to do. The more we manifest that and invoke it, the more likely (in a weird way) we are to bring it down on ourselves. But, at the same time, there’s no excuse for complacency. We have a human race to protect – we don’t want to go the way of the dinosaurs. We have children and grandchildren – we want to look to the future. Even if, as the calculations indicate, we may be crossing that part of the Taurid meteor stream where these large objects are (at the moment the Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of the stream – we may be encountering those objects, or in danger of encountering those objects, in the next thirty or forty years), there’s no reason why we should fall into gloom and doom over this.  

We are probably the first civilization on this planet that has the capacity to avert such a disaster. It definitely is within the capacity of the human race right now. There’s just something we have to do first. We have to stop hating and fearing and suspecting each other and wasting all our energies on stupid internecine quarrels about minor points of doctrinal difference or colour of skin or ethnicity. All of these things are just utterly, completely irrelevant when we face, well, frankly, the real prospect of the extinction of the human race. And it’s preventable – we actually could do it. You get together the best minds of humanity from all different cultures and put them to work on this, we can solve that problem – it would actually be child’s play – but we’re too busy involved in all of this deliberately manipulated mutual hatred and fear and suspicion, which the media are whipping up to a high frenzy and the sense of our mutual trust in one another as a species is lacking and, in fact, we’re in a terrible time as a civilization. The amount of division and the negative energy and the hatred that is flowing in the world right now is a really very, very horrible, horrible thing.  

And there I think we have to listen to ancient mythology and we have to look at our culture. When Plato talked about Atlantis he talked about a time when they were so good and pure and true, but, as the years went by, they became corrupt. They became power-hungry. They ceased to bear their prosperity with moderation. Sound familiar?  

In mythological terms, yes, we are actually the next lost civilization and we need to smarten up our act. You know, we don’t want to fall out of harmony with the universe in this way. Actually, it doesn’t even take a comet. We’re perfectly capable of ending human life on this planet ourselves, and there are enough psychopathic maniacs running governments and big corporations in the world to actually make that a viable possibility. So, from every level, whether or not we face a collective global threat (and I believe we do), we need to change the way we behave in the world and we need to change it soon.

Touché. World leaders, of course they know about this threat. They know far more than they’re letting on, for obvious reasons. You see things mirrored in the media, in Hollywood, the focus of movies about these sorts of events and it’s just interesting, because there’s almost a state of readiness being created, and then you complement that with the fact that Egypt’s still two thirds covered by sand, Göbekli Tepe, there’s no money to excavate… What if all this was excavated, what if these messages became abundantly clear that we – not aliens – we left a message for ourselves? 

You’re touching on exactly the point of my book, ultimately, because I think a message was left for us. I think a message was left for us very, very clearly at Göbekli Tepe and at Giza and that that message uses the language of the stars, the universal language of astronomy, to encode information and to speak directly to our time, very directly. I won’t go into this in too much detail in this interview, but it’s all there in the book, that there is a message for us. In the case of Egypt, as well as the astronomy, that message involves the notion of the phoenix and the return of the phoenix and the period of the return of the phoenix. There are very curious bits of mathematical information that have come down to us from the past (and I do go into this), but, intriguingly, the whole picture is there at Göbekli Tepe. Once you see it, it’s a very clear message – it’s a very clear depiction of the skies in our time, as a matter of fact. Our time, but done 11,600 years ago. Somebody is pointing to us and saying, ‘You need to pay attention.’

Well, I’m not going to ask you to give away the most compelling aspect of what sounds like Magicians of the Gods’primary message, but it sounds like there’s a cycle and it sounds like the cycle is known and repeatable.

Yes. Absolutely. There is a cycle – that’s the whole message. We’re locked in a cyclical process and in a way if we are to escape it, we have to transcend ourselves. We have to transcend the limitations that we have imposed upon ourselves as a species in the twenty-first century. We are locked into a most unhelpful pattern of behaviour. More and more people are waking up to that and it’s urgent and necessary that we change that and that we do so now.

Well, I think those are perfect final thoughts and let me just say thank you very much for taking time to share your thoughts on your very exciting new book. Can’t wait to read it. By the time this interview is out the book will be available and I encourage everyone to read it. Actually, I don’t need to encourage them – I’m sure they’ll be running to the stores to read it of their own accord. So, Graham, thank you so much. 

Thanks for having me on. It’s always a delight to talk with you. I enjoyed our last discussion and I enjoyed this one, and good luck with everything you’re doing and let’s stay in close contact. 

Fantastic. Thanks so much, Graham.

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock





Notable Facts from the Magicians of the Gods

Excavations at Göbekli Tepe, a mysterious 12,000-year-old archaeological site in Turkey, have revealed a series of megalithic stone circles that are larger and more complex than Stonehenge. But Göbekli Tepe is 7,000 years older than Stonehenge and was made during the ‘palaeolithic’, when our ancestors are supposed to have been primitive hunter-gatherers, incapable of such feats.

Whoever made Göbekli Tepe not only possessed the skills necessary to create giant architectural monuments, aligned to the stars, but also, according to archaeologists, ‘invented’ agriculture in the same region at the same time, whence the knowledge spread out to the rest of the world. Were agriculture and monumental architecture really ‘invented’ here, or are we looking at the work of the survivors of a lost civilization?

Göbekli Tepe was deliberately buried 10,000 years ago, like a time capsule, to await its rediscovery in the late 1990s. Recent investigations with ground-penetrating radar have revealed that only a fraction of the site (less than one twentieth) has so far been excavated. Further huge stone circles, larger than those already exposed, remain beneath the ground.

The largest block of stone ever quarried in the ancient world was discovered at Baalbek in nearby Lebanon in 2014, deeply buried in a site that archaeologists have been excavating for a century. At 1,650 tons, the block weighs more than 900 family-sized cars. Nearby, three other blocks weighing close to 1,000 tons each were raised 40 feet above the ground and placed in a gigantic wall. We don’t know who built the wall or cut the blocks at Baalbek, but there are indications they may be as old as Göbekli Tepe. Local traditions say the megaliths are the ‘work of giants’ and date back to the ‘time before the Flood’.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is a scale model of our planet. Its height multiplied by 43,200 equals the polar radius of the Earth and its base perimeter multiplied by the same number equals the equatorial circumference of the Earth. The scale used is not random, but is derived from precise, scientific observations of our planet’s orientation in space.

A pyramid which geologists believe may be more than 20,000 years old was discovered in 2012 in a mountainous region of the island of Java, Indonesia. Preliminary surveys have revealed hidden chambers deep within it and excavations are now under way.

Indonesia was part of an immense continent during the last Ice Age, when sea level was 400 feet lower than it is now. It was submerged in two episodes of cataclysmic global flooding between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago, leaving only the chain of mountainous islands that we see today.

New scientific evidence proves that the Earth was hit by a comet 12,800 years ago. The comet broke up into multiple fragments, some more than a mile in diameter. Several of these large fragments hit the North American ice cap, instantly liquidising millions of square miles of ice and causing the global Deluge that is remembered in myths and traditions all around the world.

The debris stream of the comet is still on an orbit that crosses the orbit of the Earth. A second episode of devastating impacts occurred 11,600 years ago (the date Plato gives for the submergence of Atlantis), causing further global flooding.

Today, we know the debris stream as the Taurid Meteor Shower. It is responsible for spectacular ‘Halloween Fireworks’ every year in late October through to early November. But astronomers believe that a 20-mile-wide ‘dark’ fragment of the original giant comet remains hidden within the debris stream and poses a clear and present danger to all life on earth.

The ancient Egyptians symbolised the comet as a phoenix that at long intervals underwent a ‘Great Return’ and was reborn in fire. An astronomical message encoded at Göbekli Tepe, and in the Sphinx and the pyramids of Egypt’s Giza plateau, warns that the ‘Great Return’ will occur in our time . . . 

Andrew Gough interviews Graham Hancock