Graham Hancock: The Mystery Seeker
Interview by Jill V. Mangino
A real-life “Indiana Jones,” international, best-selling author, Graham Hancock, has traversed the planet investigating ancient mysteries, including the origin of humankind, archeological anomalies, and the realms of consciousness and beyond. An unconventional thinker, he is always on the forefront of redefining our history.
He was so gracious to spend an hour with me by phone, to talk about everything from his views on Aliens, Atlantis, Ayahuasca, and much more; including his theories on the world’s most ancient “unsolved” mysteries and the future of our planet. He will take the stage next week in Joshua Tree, with his colleague and friend, Rupert Sheldrake, at the Psyche & Matter Symposium. http://www.matterpsyche.net
“Human history has become too much a matter of dogma taught by “professionals” in ivory towers as though it’s all fact. Actually, much of human history is up for grabs. The further back you go, the more that the history that’s taught in the schools and universities begins to look like some kind of faerie story.” -Graham Hancock
Exclusive Interview with Graham Hancock
JVM: I am a huge fan of the TV series, Ancient Aliens. You always have amazing commentaries to share on that series.
Graham Hancock: I’ve got nothing against the entities our species presently calls “aliens”. These entities are real, in my view, although I don’t think we’re anywhere near understanding exactly what they are or where they come from. That being said, though, the fact is that I don’t need “aliens” – whatever they are — to explain any mysteries in our pre-history. Honestly I don’t need a single alien for the great pyramids or the Mayan calendar. I just don’t. What I need is a more advanced level of human civilization in that period than is recognized by historians.
But let me be clear about this. We are dealing with something extremely interesting in the so-called UFO/alien phenomenon. It’s just that we don’t know yet exactly what lies at the source of that phenomenon and may be jumping too quickly to the conclusion that it is something as simple, and as relatively un-mysterious, as high-tech beings a bit like us but from other planets. In my book Supernatural, I looked at the similarities at the level of phenomenology, at the level of experience, between what were construed as abductions by faeries in the Middle Ages, and what are construed as abductions by spirits by shamans in the Amazon rainforest, for example, and what are construed as abductions by aliens in the technologically developed countries today. Whatever is going on – and I repeat there may be no single, simple explanation — it is the same thing in every case; I’m really very clear on that. One of the problems I have with the whole ancient alien lobby is that at one level it operates like a religion or a cult, by which I mean its believers are resistant to, and often get furiously angry about, other possible explanations that challenge their faith. But at another level members of the “ancient astronaut cult” are also crassly materialistic, seeking to reduce everything to a simplistic material reference frame, projecting our present and imagined future levels of technology onto what are in fact deeply mysterious and unexplained phenomena, and sticking their heads in the sand when it comes the implications of the latest research into altered states of consciousness – for example Rick Strassman’s groundbreaking work with DMT and human volunteers. I’m not saying altered states of consciousness explain everything about the UFO/alien phenomenon. I am not saying there are no physical aspects to the UFO/alien phenomenon, because there are. I’m simply saying that if we neglect altered states of consciousness and focus solely on the physical, we will never solve the UFO/alien mystery.
Graham Hancock: For me it was a process. I was very much focused on current affairs during the 1970s. But in the early 1980s, I bumped by accident into a historical mystery – the mystery of Ethiopia’s claim to possess the lost Ark of the Covenant. I was visiting Ethiopia as the East Africa correspondent of The Economist on a current affairs story, and found myself in a war zone, face-to-face with the monk who claimed he was the guardian of the Ark. And since I’d recently seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was naturally intrigued, and I thought, “There’s a story here, but perhaps not a story for The Economist.” So I began to investigate it, pretty much on the back burner for a number of years during the 1980s, and gradually the evidence began to build up. Academics were dismissing the Ethiopian claim to possess this extraordinary biblical relic, but I kept finding more and more evidence that supported it – so much evidence that eventually I ended up writing a book about it called The Sign of the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. That’s the first book I ever wrote on the subject of a historical mystery.
My research for The Sign and the Seal taught me that we don’t always have to trust absolutely what academics tell us about our past; they can be biased, they can be prejudiced, and they can be wrong. As just as I brought investigative skills into my current affairs journalism, I thought it was worth bringing those investigative skills to the ancient past of mankind. Really, as we go further back – particularly as we go back beyond five thousand years ago into epochs for which we have no written documents whatsoever – the stories historians tell us become less and less about facts and more and more about just their opinion. So I felt there was room for a thoroughly researched alternative point of view. By seeking to understand our past better, I could also, perhaps, in some way, shed some light on the human predicament today. So following The Sign of the Seal, which took me to Israel, to Ethiopia, and repeatedly to Egypt, I became aware that there were whole areas of our past that we were being given a very one-sided story on. I began to consider the possibility that there might be a huge forgotten episode in human history, a lost civilization, really. And I decided that would be my next project and I spent several years on the investigation that became Fingerprints of the Gods, which is by far my best-known book.
VM: One of my favorite books, for sure, is, “Fingerprints of the Gods.” It inspired my first trip to visit the Mayan Ruins. You really are a true pioneer in that field. –And didn’t the “Sphinx” book come after that?
Graham Hancock: Yes. The Message of the Sphinx came out in 1996, a bit over a year after Fingerprints of the Gods. I co-authored Message with my friend and colleague Robert Bauval. Again, there is an orthodox story of the Sphinx, that it was created in 2500 B.C. by the Pharaonic Egyptians, and there’s an alternative story, which is based in part on astronomy, namely that the Sphinx is leonine in form and gazes due east. In other words its gaze targets the rising sun on the spring equinox. It so happens that 12,500 years ago, i.e. in 10,500 B.C., we were in the age of Leo, when the constellation of Leo housed the sun on the spring equinox. If the ancient Egyptians did make the Sphinx, they would have had to have been astronomically illiterate to create an equinoctial marker in the form of a lion in 2500 B.C. because that was the age of Taurus. If the Sphinx was made in the age of Taurus, it should have had the form of a bull.
Actually the iconography of ancient Egypt in 2500 B.C. was all about bulls, showing us that they understood the constellations of the zodiac very well. So it’s anomalous that they have this lion-bodied monument looking at the rising sun on the equinox; it would make much more sense if that monument were created in the age of Leo 8,000 years earlier. Secondly, there is all the work that Robert Schoch and John Anthony West did on the geology of the Sphinx, which suggests very strongly that the Sphinx is geologically much older than 2500 B.C. Quite possibly what happened was that the head of the Sphinx was re-carved by the pharaohs, but the body of the Sphinx remains the body of a lion. So we have a leonine equinoxial marker with geological indications that it’s much older than 2500 B.C. That set the stage for the book that Bauval and I called The Message of the Sphinx.