Does humanity have a kind of amnesia which could be our downfall?
The Netflix documentary series Ancient Apocalypse, hosted by former Economist journalist Graham Hancock, raises this disturbing question. It makes its case largely by examining megalithic examples of archaeoastronomy (stone structures connected to astronomical objects, apparently used as a kind of calendar), from around the globe.
Using software to model the precession of constellations, it appears that many such objects may reference the same year, 12,800 years ago. What kind of global event could have triggered such a frenzy of building?
Recently, a peer-reviewed mainstream scientific journal paper has acknowledged that there was a global deluge 12,800 years ago (see below).
Many examples of ancient meglithic artificial structures and archaeoastronomy are explored. For example, the multiple connected "survival bunkers" that were carved into stone in the Middle East could each have housed thousands of people, serving as underground cities. Building these was an enormous undertaking, in both resources and time. Why was this done?
Gobekli Tepe was built to incredible precision, on a far larger scale than is commonly known based on ground penetrating radar examinations. And then it was buried, deliberately and without apparent cause, perhaps to serve as a time capsule to warn future generations. (Admittedly, this last is pure speculation, admitted as such by Hancock. But what better hypothesis exists that ties together all of this data?)
This series puts that deluge into context, and ties it into the "black mat", a boundary layer found in many locations around the globe, which marks the near-simultaneous impact of MANY asteroids circa 12,800 years ago. Such impacts could have raised tsunamis and melted ice sheets, as indicated by geologic formations in the Pacific Northwest.
One doesn't have to take stories like Noah's Ark literally (and ridiculously), along with deluge stories from other religions and cultures across the globe, to consider the possibility that prejudice against archaeoastronomy may have tainted the field of archaeology.
If you were part of an advanced civilization--say, with technology circa 1900 AD--and had just lived through a cataclysm which you believed to be periodic, and wanted to leave a warning for your distant descendants who might have entirely different languages and no memory of that cataclysm--what better tools could you use than megalithic stones and the stars, together pointing to a specific year?
And to those who ask, "where are the artifacts of such a civilization?", Hancock replies that it would have likely been located on rich coastal lands, of which 10 million square miles were submerged by that very cataclysm and remain mostly unexamined.
We do, of course, have a few items such as the Ankytheria device, which has been dated to several thousand years ago. Yet it sits alone in a comparative technological desert; bereft of any evidence of Greek ability to make such a device. Was it, perhaps, a copy of something much older?
The Wikipedia on Hancock takes a decidedly skeptical slant on him. It even states, "the archaeologist Julien Riel-Salvatore argues that it is rather simple, from a scientific point of view, to demonstrate that the main theses of Ancient Apocalypse are false."
However, the article by Dr. Riel-Salvatore cited therein as expounding upon this in actuality provides no substantive critique of Hancock’s arguments:
(Can be translated by using Google Translate.)
Hancock is not asserting that this hypothesized civilization matched or even approached our present day one in technology or population; only that it was far more advanced than mainstream archaeology considers to have been possible 12,800 years ago.
Hancock cites multiple sites of complex stone construction around the world which have now been carbon dated to far earlier times than the mainstream archaeological dating of the Egyptian pyramids.
By way of example for his argument about missing artifacts, an early 21st century National Geographic expedition located and imaged what they considered to be artificial structures near Cuba under 1/2 mile of water.
If the archaeoastronomical analyses included in Ancient Apocalypse are all incorrect, it would be extremely valuable to society for some archaeologist to demonstrate this through carefully explained analysis. I have searched for specific refutations of Hancock's arguments by mainstream archaeologists, and do not find them. Instead, they compare him to white supremacists, which is neither scientific nor dignified. (To my knowledge, Hancock has never said anything in favor of such views.)
Indeed, and rather ironically, there is a very good mainstream argument for Hancock's cataclysmic position, in the prestigious journal Phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-geologic-evidence-theory-major-cosmic.html.
Note their date: 12,800 years ago, the same date appearing in Hancock's software-regressed archaeoastronomical megalithic stones.
If archaeology cannot refute Hancock on an evidentiary basis, then it's a disturbing commentary on certain scientists rather than one on science itself. Regardless, we are as a species then left with one glaring question, which no one including Hancock has, to my knowledge, addressed.
Was the cometary impact and deluge of 12,800 years ago a cyclic repeat of the event which killed the dinosaurs (if periodic, this may occur roughly every 65 million years, with some exceptions), or was it perhaps part of a much shorter bombardment cycle about which humanity should be greatly concerned?
Put simply, did we narrowly escape another dinosaur-killer event, from which we are now safe, or are we now in the window for another cataclysmic bombardment?
Science should address this question forthwith, without stooping to the ridiculous position that, because white supremacy is evil and some white supremacists agree with Hancock, therefore Hancock must be a white supremacist and is to be dismissed without serious argumentation.
That is an argument worthy of children, not serious scientists.
Ironically, it too appears in a Phys.org article: https://phys.org/news/2022-11-netflix-ancient-apocalypse-graham-hancock.html
Apart from comparing Hancock to white supremacists, the essence of the argument in this article is that some of the structures he cites were built thousands of years after the end of the ice age. To which one can respond, so what?
That date, if marked by a single day in which fire rained from the skies and then water deluged the Earth, would have been seared into the human memory more thoroughly than was the much later birth of Christ. And if such structures were built thousands of years later, why then do they all point to a specific archaeoastronomical year?
As Hancock puts it, while archaeologists may be dismissive of him, they seem to completely ignore the use of artificially placed megalithic structures to mark a particular year on the astronomical calendar.
Either archaeology should have someone of the caliber of Neil deGrasse Tyson (a physicist, yes, but certainly capable of fully understanding all of the relevant arguments) debate Hancock and explain, in layman's terms, the fallacy of Hancock's arguments, allowing for ample back and forth between the two, or else archaeology should concede that his argument has merit with quite literally hard (if unconventional) supporting evidence, and then help us to fully understand our predicament.
For all our sakes, I really hope that archaeology can indeed prove him wrong ON AN EVIDENTIARY BASIS and put millions of minds to rest about this existential concern.
UPDATE: I thank Adam Nixon, who directed me to the point-by-point refutation of Ancient Apocalypse by Milo Rossi, a student of archaeology who is clearly well-informed about mainstream archeology and includes some intellectual leadership from the field in his refutation. See the comments section for this discussion!