Asteroids melted the poles! Baalbek was erected by “ancient and unknowable minds”! Everything we know is wrong!
Having dusted off long-debunked Von Däniken–isms in Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), Hancock aims for a similar audience in his latest, which works two large themes: we are the unknowing beneficiaries of an Atlantis-like disappeared civilization, and that civilization was swept under the sea thanks to a cataclysmic event. Catastrophism sells, and if read as one might an L. Ron Hubbard novel, Hancock’s tale is clunky but ingenious, breathless in its certainty that “the timeline of history taught in our schools and universities for the best part of the last hundred years can no longer stand.” It’s a mashup of Ignatius Donnelly and Dan Brown, an I-thought-this-and-I-unearthed-that tale of ersatz discovery. As scholarship, it’s cherry-picking among dubious facts and factoids that hinge on fixed chronologies: at exactly 9600 B.C.E., say, agriculture and architecture sprang forth. Hancock’s favorite rhetorical strategy is to disdainfully dismiss the careful efforts of the professoriat in favor of his own heterodoxical wonderfulness: “That is certainly how things look when viewed through the prism of ‘Egpytologic’—i.e. that special form of reasoning, with a built-in double standard, deployed only by Egyptologists.” So how did those Babylonians and Incas and proto-Hittites build their massive structures of monolith and marble? Well, setting aside the possibility that some long-inundated, advanced civilization supplied the know-how, the answer is one that any engineer would endorse: through a lot of hard work, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of time. Hancock prefers more miraculous answers, full of conjecture (“the Ancient Egyptians might have reached not only the Americas, but also Indonesia and Australia”) and spectacularly shameless but highly entertaining pseudoscience.
For the Art Bell addict in the audience. Risible and sure to sell.