1) Graham Hancock’s latest book entitled “Magicians of the Gods - The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization” explores changes in the global climate that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age and the impact of such massive changes on the humans living at the time. This Blog summarizes Hancock’s work, and other related evidence, to examine his logic that about 13,000 years ago a comet struck the northern ice cover resulting in;
- a. a sudden and catastrophic melting of the ice cap;
- b. immense amounts of freshwater discharge into the ocean;
- c. sudden rising sea levels;
- d. temperatures dropping 2 to 6 degrees C / 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit; and,
- e. the near-extinction of an unknown highly-technical society that has left megalithic structures around the world to warn later humans of the potential for similar future disasters.
2) Note that for at least the past 40,000 years relatively modern humans have inhabited the World having outlived the Neanderthal and Denisovan people. Modern humans would have experienced the changes explored by Hancock and would have been influenced by these overwhelming events.
3) As much of Hancock’s arguments center around climate changes associated with the Younger Dryas time period, first we need to understand the present evidence for climate change during this important geological time period between 12,900 and 11,700 years ago (see Table 1).
4) We currently live in a relatively stable and warm climate called the Holocene period that has existed for the last 11,700 years. But around 27,000 to 24,000 years ago the earth was experiencing the last Glacial Maximum with large sheets of ice 3 to 4 km (1.9 to 2.5 mi) thick. Between the end of the last glacial maximum and the beginning of the Holocene, the climate went through a gradual warming from ice age temperatures to what we experience today.
5) During this 12,000-year period of general warming there were a number of notable changes in the World’s climate that appear to have occurred over very short time periods.
6) First, there were three notable periods of relatively rapid cooling. The three periods of rapid cooling are referred to as the Oldest, Older and Younger Dryas periods (Table 1)
7) Second, there were periods when large amounts of freshwater entered the World’s ocean. These periods are referred to as Meltwater Pulses and the dates are also shown in Table 1.
8) Third, these large Meltwater Pulses gave rise to periods of very quick rising of the level of seawater in the World’s ocean. Figure 1 shows the timing and the effect of these Meltwater Pulses. Meltwater Pulse 1A occurred about 14,500 years before present prior to the onset of the Younger Dryas. Over a relatively short time span, sea level rose 25 m (82 feet). Note that the data in Figure 1 do not show any sign of the Meltwater Pulse 1AO. There appears to be a later steepening of the curve at around 12,000 that could correspond to the Meltwater Pulse 1B that would date to roughly the end of the Younger Dryas period.
9) Fourth, this sudden rise in sea level would have flooded all low-lying coastal lands around the world. Such a rise would have been experienced and noticed by humans and this is likely the origin of the many Flood stories in human cultures around the world. It may also be the event that gave rise to the Atlantis stories recorded by Plato.
10) Fifth, this is also a time when two thirds of North America’s large mammals went extinct. Animals such as saber-toothed cats, mammoths, and mastodons, short-faced bear, short-faced skunk and the giant beaver went extinct at this time.
12) In summary, there is a lot of evidence for a major global event preceding the onset of the Younger Dryas period between 14,600 and 12,900 years ago: resulting in glacial melting, freshwater runoff, sudden sea level rise, temperatures decreased by 2 to 6 degrees (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit), North American large mammal extinction and the end of the Clovis Culture.
13) Now to explore what might have caused all of these changes? Putting aside Robert Schoch’s hypothesis for a stellar mass ejection as the cause, Hancock explores the possibility that all of this was brought on by a comet impacting the ice in the glaciers of North America. This is referred to as the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis.
14) The Younger Dryas Impact hypothesis is supported by a number of pieces of evidence. In the sedimentary layers of soils there is a clearly identified boundary layer that corresponds with the onset of the Younger Dryas. At this boundary researchers have found a high concentration of anomalous materials, for example nanodiamonds that are associated with the high temperatures generated from comet impacts. There is evidence for a high heat event that resulted in extensive burning of the plant material in North America. There is also evidence from Greenland Ice cores for very high Platinum/iridium and platinum/aluminum ratios that suggests an extraterrestrial impact. Hancock argues that there are no impact craters from such an impact because they would have hit the 3 to 4 km (1.9 to 2.5 mi) thick ice sheet that would have dissipated the energy and melted the ice into the freshwater seen in the meltwater pulses.
15) Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that all of these changes were experienced by modern humans who lived at the time. In addition to having to deal with the suddenly cold temperature a major impact on human cultures living at the time would be the flooding of their coastal homes. Figure 2 shows a map of the World and the light blue area roughly represents the present-day 100 m deep areas of the ocean that would have been dry land occupied by humans prior to the sea level rise of the Meltwater Pulse 1A and the Younger Dryas period. While coastal lands would have been flooded worldwide, note that some areas of the world would be affected more than other. For example, see the large expanse of coastal areas surrounding Southeast Asia and Indonesia that would have been flooded.
16) Returning to Hancock’s main storyline, he argues that there was a highly civilized, technically advanced society that was flooded out of their homelands in Southeast Asia and remnants of the population made their way around the world to seed the development of humans. He suggests that the many megalithic constructions around the World are evidence of this civilization. At this time 12,000 years ago there is evidence of humans burying their dead, creating cave paintings, carving human figurines (https://awhico.com/blog/eurasiatogbekli-tepe). Yet there are numerous sites around the world that have poorly-dated structures constructed of massive stones with incredibly fine precision such as the stone constructions in Peru (Figure 3). Hancock suggests that these all have a link to a society displaced by the coastal flood during the Younger Dryas.
17) Hancock deals with the flooded lands around Southeast Asia in his treatment of the recently discovered human-made construction at Gunung Padang, Indonesia (Figure 4). Researchers have found a large pyramid structure there that has been carbon-dated to at least 8,500 years before present - a couple of thousand years after the onset of the Younger Dryas. Maybe this is the lost continent of Mu or the land of Atlantis of Plato’ s stories? Definitely as shown in Figure 2, much of the land in the area surrounding Indonesia was flooded – and remains water covered today. Read this note regarding the non-continent of Atlantic: http://lost-origins.com/atlantis-no-lost-continent/.
18) At about the same time as the carbon-dated origins of Gunung Padang, a major megalithic structure was built by humans at a site Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. This site has been dated to 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. This site has magnificently carved large standing stones. Embossed on some of the stones are many images of animals and birds. Hancock deals extensively with one such stone referred to as the Vulture Stone (Figure 5). He goes through a rather elaborate argument to suggest that the Vulture represents the constellation Scorpio and that the round circle on the Vulture’s wing is the sun. He proposes that such an arrangement of Scorpio and the Sun occurs at only certain point in the Precession of the Equinoxes and thus the builders of Göbekli Tepe were creating a warning for future humans that something dramatic occurred at the beginning of the Younger Dryas. I prefer to think that the scorpion on the Vulture Stone represents Scorpio and that the bird with the disc represents the bird constellation Cygnus. If there is a warning in the image, then maybe they were indicating the location in the sky from which the comet arrived – such as Encke that results in the Taurid meteor shower. I agree that Göbekli Tepe is an incredibly important site – but its meanings remain a mystery.
19) After 1,200 years the Younger Dryas came to an end and the climate began to continue its warming trend. There is some suggestion by Hancock that the Younger Dryas period may have ended as the result of another comet impact that gave rise to global warming. In contrast to the earlier impact this event would have hit water and/or earth instead of the glacial ice sheets. As a result material and water would have been thrown up into the atmosphere and resulted in heat being trapped on Earth. Although this is very possible, it is also possible that it would take 1,000 years for the thermohaline circulation in the World’s oceans to reestablish itself. Whatever the cause the Younger Dryas period came to an end 11,700 years ago as the Global temperatures reached the present warm climate that we now experience.
20) The final piece in Hancock’s storyline is the potential for another catastrophic encounter with a presently untracked comet that would again plunge the world into a period of major cataclysmic climate change. As comets periodically circle the sun it is certainly possible that such an event is yet in the future of the world. When and how such an extraterrestrial impact will affect the world is impossible to predict at this point.
21) So to return to Hancock’s many interesting and important points, there is much evidence and agreement some of his points such as:
- a. a sudden and catastrophic melting of the ice cap;
- b. immense amounts of freshwater discharge into the ocean;
- c. sudden rising sea levels; and
- d. temperatures dropping 2 to 6 degrees C / 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit.
22) There is some question about the dating and timing of these changes in relation to the onset of the Younger Dryas. For instance the evidence for the Meltwater Pulse 1A puts it 2,000 years before the onset of the Younger Dryas.
23) The most important question raised by Hancock deals with the existence and near-extinction of an unknown highly-technical society that has left megalithic structures around the world. Certainly modern day society is at a loss to explain how many of the World’s megalithic structures such as the Great Pyramid of Giza were built – and by whom (Figure 3). They are totally out of scale from the well-known societies that were carving small statuettes and painting on the walls of caves. The existence of such structures is undeniable yet we do not yet understand who built them. It is most likely that any evidence for a highly-technical society that predated the Younger Dryas is covered in 100 m/330 feet of seawater in the flooded coastal waters of the world.
24) Graham Hancock’s latest book entitled “Magicians of the Gods - The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization” brings together a number of observations and evidence to build a plausible storyline of human history. Although many questions remain, his contribution to the study is invaluable.