What if everything we know about prehistoric humans is wrong? That’s the question journalist Graham Hancock presents in the new series Ancient Apocalypse, which started streaming on Netflix on Nov. 11. In that series, Hancock treks to archeological sites around the world in search of an advanced civilization that he suspects existed long before the ancient civilizations we read about in history books.
“For 30 years, I’ve been looking for something I was told couldn’t possibly exist: an advanced human civilization, much older than our own,” he says in the show. “The mainstream version of history says that after the end of the Ice Age, on their own initiative, our hunter-gatherer ancestors suddenly began farming and raising livestock, creating settlements and eventually cities, until the first civilizations emerged around 6,000 years ago. But new discoveries keep on pushing that horizon back.”
Graham Hancock’s ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ has him traveling from Indonesia to Mexico to Malta.
In the first episode of Ancient Apocalypse, Graham journeys to Indonesia to look for proof of a lost civilization and a “potential cataclysm that wiped it out,” according to Netflix. And as the series progresses, he searches for clues about “human prehistory” at the world’s largest pyramid in Mexico, at the megalithic temples of Malta, and even at a fabled “road to Atlantis” off the coast of the United States. (And those are just the first four episodes!)
Graham is also giving a lecture about “new evidence of a global cataclysm” in London.
“Our notions of the past are the foundations on which we imagine our future. But what if important beliefs that we presently hold about our own ‘prehistory’ are incomplete — or just plain wrong?” Alternatives says in a description of the event. “In the light of recent archaeological discoveries, and compelling new evidence of a global cataclysm at the end of the last Ice Age, Graham Hancock offers a radical rethink and makes the case for an enlarged vision of the past.”
His views have sparked controversy, to say the least.
As The Telegraph noted in a 2015 profile on Graham, the journalist — a former correspondent for The Economist — has seen his theories criticized by archaeologists for decades. He’s been called a pseudo-archaeologist and even a “Pyramidiot” and compared, unfavorably, to The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.
In a University of Kansas news release about Ancient Apocalypse, anthropology professor John Hoopes says there’s a difference between scientific archaeology and “the public vernacular perception of archaeology, which includes ancient aliens and shows on the History Channel and Graham Hancock’s books and the stuff that you find in the grocery checkout counter or the airport book rack.”
And a 2018 blog post from the Southern Poverty Law Center compared Hancock’s work to the theory of ancient astronauts, which is “one of the more elaborate theories in pseudo-history with a racist component,” according to historian Jason Colavito.
But criticisms don’t bother Graham that much. “I certainly don’t relish them but I don’t resent them either," he told The Telegraph in 2015. “If you put out an extraordinary reinterpretation of the past, then you can expect those who have invested their entire careers studying the human past to say,’ Hang on a minute.’”