America Before: Graham Hancock talks to Joe Rogan about lost civilizations
Our good friend Graham Hancock has appeared once again on Joe Rogan’s podcast this week, discussing his new book America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization.
In an almost 3 hour chat that flies by, Graham discusses the Younger Dryas Impact hypothesis, new discoveries that have confirmed some of his theories over the years, the use of psychedelics, American archaeology, various ‘sacred sites’ around the world, and much more.
As with some of Joe’s other interviews with people discussing Daily Grail-aligned topics, I’m embedding the interview video below, and underneath it offering annotations on subjects discussed along with time codes, and also selected pull-quotes, in case you don’t have the time or bandwidth to watch or listen to the entire interview.
0:15 – Introduction, and mention of Barnes and Noble special edition (with bonus chapter) of Graham’s new book America Before.
3:00 – Graham mentions his book tour around the States and Canada. “I feel as an author, that I’m nothing without my audience. I owe my audience, my readers, big time. And what I try to do at events is give back.”
5:00 – On discoveries in recent decades like Gobekli Tepe confirming many of Graham’s ‘heretical’ theories. Joe says, “All this stuff was at one point very controversial, but now far less…whatever archaeologists were trying to resist, they’ve let go of a lot of that, they’ve had to.”
Graham: “This is something that’s really hard for archaeology to explain. They’ve suddenly got 5000 years of missing history that they’ve just never taken into account, and what I see them doing is largely avoiding the problem rather than getting to grips with it directly.”
7:00 – On being “subjected to the most blistering and deeply unpleasant criticism from the archaeological fraternity and their friends in the media” for a lot of his career:
But things have changed. Central to my work was the notion of a global cataclysm roughly 12,500 years ago. It made sense to me in 1995 when I wrote Fingerprints of the Gods, but there was no compelling evidence for a global cataclysm then…[just] all the evidence seemed to point to that time and a massive global event. And then from 2007 onwards, more than a decade after I wrote FoTG, we get a group of more than 60 major scientists who are seriously proposing that the Earth was fit by multiple fragments of a giant comet 12,800 years ago, and this caused a huge rise in sea level and extinction of megafaunas. They are not saying that it also wiped out a lost advanced civilization of prehistory, I’m saying that. But what has changed is that we now have compelling, hard scientific evidence.
And the other thing that has changed is the attitude of the man on the street to authority…back in the ’90s authority figures were the gatekeepers, they controlled everything… [But] today…people are so distrustful of authority and rightly so, because we’ve been lied to by authority figures in all fields for so long, the bullshit has been so enormous, that people are finally waking up that we can’t trust what authority figures say.
“I think, and it’s my case, that it wiped our memory of a previous episode of human civilization…We now know that at that time…truly global cataclysmic events involving rapid rises in sea level did occur – and suddenly the worldwide tradition of a global flood stops being just a myth, and starts being a memory, an account of real events.”
16:00 – Graham says he felt he had ‘done it all’ with the ‘lost civilization’ topic by the time he published Underworld, “but then new information started to come out that touched on the lost civilization idea, and I couldn’t just stand by and ignore that information, and that’s why I published Magicians of the Gods in 2015. And then as I was researching that book, I became aware of something I hadn’t realized before: that there’s a mass of new information specifically from the Americas which completely rewrites the story of human history…that the Americas have been misrepresented for a very long time by archaeology.”
18:00 – On the mistake of orthodox archaeology maintaining the ‘Clovis first’ theory of American settlement. “Any archaeologist who would challenge that dogma…would face severe problems with their career…basically to challenge ‘Clovis first’ was the end of your archaeological career.” Graham mentions the attacks on Jacques Cinq-Mars in relation to this – you can read more about him in this story at the Smithsonian site.
22:15 – Discussion of evidence of human presence in America 130,000 years ago at the Cerutti mastodon fossil site – see this 2017 story about the fossils, which appear to have been worked by human hands according to researcher Tom Deméré. Hancock then debunks a recent skeptical paper claiming the damage to the fossils was caused by modern roadwork equipment.
I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to find much more evidence of very ancient human presence in the Americas, and that’s what Tom Deméré thinks as well. And as he points out, if we don’t look then we’re never going to find it. If we allow dogma to stop us looking, saying ‘oh it’s impossible that humans were in the Americas 130,000 years ago so we won’t bother to look’ – what a failure of science that is.
34:15 – Joe brings up fascinating recent discoveries made in South America. Possibly referring to these henge-like geoglyphs discovered in the Amazon, but also maybe conflating it with the ancient city and irrigation structures discovered using LIDAR in Guatemala.
Graham: “The Amazon is a colossal mystery, and is one of the subjects I cover in depth in America Before. First of all, to give some basic figures, the Amazon basin is huge: it’s 7 million square kilometres in area, and within it, 5.5 million square kilometres remains almost entirely unstudied by archaeologists… And to put that in perspective, 5.5 million square kilometres is the size of the entire Indian subcontinent. So it’s like saying ‘we’ve done world archaeology, but we’ve just ignored India.’ We’ve done world archaeology, but we’ve just ignored the Amazon.”
36:00 – On evidence for huge, incredible cities in the Amazon. “We can say that a city like London, which had a population of roughly 50,000 people in the 16th century, there were cities of that size all over the Amazon, huge numbers of them…a possible total population of the Amazon that exceeded 20 million people, this is the latest evidence.”
Discusses ancient sciences in the Amazon for soil improvement (see Dark Earth) and plant cultivation.
Graham goes on to discuss the Guatemalan LIDAR study mentioned above.
43:30 – “What intrigues me is what remains in that 5.5 million square kilometres (of the Amazon) that has *not* been investigated yet.”
We are just, I think, looking at the edges of a mystery. The archaeologists involved, who are mainly from Finland and Brazil, feel the same. Their estimate is that there are thousands of these structures remaining in the jungle, and they’re open to how old they may ultimately prove to be.”
But what’s fascinating about them is this very powerful geometry and astronomy – a number of the sites are perfectly aligned to true north. To do that there’s only one way to do it, and that’s with astronomy. So that tells us that astronomers were at work in the Amazon. The geometry is very complex and precise – that tells us that people with geometric skills were at work in the Amazon. And thirdly, the scale of the sites – giant earthworks on the scale of hundreds of metres – tells us that this was a highly organized project…it’s a wonderful mystery that deserves much more attention.
46:30 – “We don’t know what they were used for. I make the case in America Before that they’re connected to a system of ideas which is found all around the world, which is to do with death and the afterlife destiny of the soul.”
“And I go into the issue of ayahuasca in this book, because, first of all, ayahuasca is another example of Amazonian science…someone in the Amazon, out of 150,000 different species of plants and trees, selected two that are not psychoactive on their own, but when put together create an extraordinary visionary brew. And ayahuasca means ‘the vine of the dead’, and what it’s connected to in South American religious and spiritual thinking, is what happens to us when we die.”
Hancock goes to discuss similar afterlife traditions around the world, especially the connection with the constellation of Orion. “Either we’re dealing with a huge, unbelievable extraordinarily detailed coincidence involving architecture and ideas, or we’re looking at a legacy that was inherited in all of these different places from a remote common ancestor, and that’s what I believe we’re looking at.”
52:00 – On taking part in a Native American peyote ceremony.
“The objective in every case (of traditions accessing altered states of consciousness) seems to be, ‘let’s just for a while get ourselves out of the narrow, rigid frame of the alert, problem-solving state of consciousness. We all need that, it’s incredibly useful – hunter-gatherers need it just as much as people in cities need it, but it’s not the only state of consciousness available to human beings, and maybe that’s one of the big mistakes we’re making in our culture.”
54:00 – Joe offers his own thoughts on the psychedelic experience, and how it could be useful to modern society in gaining perspective on living together. Graham extends on this by discussing the problem with rigid religious ideas, and how they can even lead us to kill other humans (citing the recent Sri Lankan attack as evidence).
It’s a very dangerous situation and a complex modern world…to have these kinds of energies being generated where certain groups of people are saying ‘we are absolutely right, and you are absolutely wrong’…this is a very dangerous path that we are on, and it needs to be changed.” Uses example of nationalism as a deleterious way of looking at the world, and also makes clear his dislike of governments. “And that’s why I’ve often said, I would like to see a situation in which no head-of-state can be appointed to that position, unless he or she has first had 12 sessions of ayahuasca.
59:00 – Joe replies with his own thoughts on the perils of nationalism and malicious government policies.
1:02:30 – Graham discusses the changes in laws about cannabis as one example of how there are encouraging signs in America that people are realising government control can be unfair and dangerous. The conversation segues into discussion of how marijuana and psilocybin and other psychedelics can open your mind to new, beneficial ways of thinking.
Graham: “It is healthy for a society where adults become self-realized individuals. Where they make their own responsible choices about their own lives. Where they don’t say ‘oh government must make this choice for me’. That’s the next step for humanity.”
1:00:08 – Graham notes “the skull beneath the smile of the war on drugs”: that society actually is fine with altered states of consciousness, citing the huge use of alcohol, anti-depressants and other legal drugs. “Our society is not against altered states of consciousness as such. It’s against particular kinds of altered states of consciousness that lead to questioning of the existing control system.”
1:13:00 – Sudden change in topic to the moving of huge ancient blocks in the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and the rather speculative idea that psychic powers might have been involved.
Graham: “Maybe the idea that [archaeologists] regard as absurd, namely that psychic powers were cultivated by ancient civilizations – that they could use powers of the human mind that we have allowed to lapse – maybe that idea deserves further consideration.”
Joe more skeptical: “Well it’s pure speculation that they used some sort of telekinetic power, but it’s absolute that they did something that we don’t understand.”
1:17:00 – Joe: “If there’s any time in history where you could go in a time machine and observe, would [ancient Egypt] be the time?”
Graham: “I am just completely fascinated by the Ice Age at the moment. I would like to be present during that cataclysmic event, if only to satisfy myself that it was indeed a comet. You see, the one thing there’s no dispute about anymore is that the Younger Dryas was a cataclysm, you can’t argue with that…where the argument still goes on is what caused it.”
1:21:00 – Discussion of the use of technology in modern archaeology. Graham segues into a topic from his book, regarding genetic tests of South American people that show a link to Australasia.
1:27:00 – Graham says if a cataclysm happened today, we in the modern world would have no idea how to survive it.
I guess you [Joe] are an exception, but very few people in modern Western culture know how to survive – they don’t have survival skills. They don’t know how to hunt, they don’t know how to gather, they don’t know how to grow crops, because they’ve handed that responsibility over to others. We live in a society that’s highly segmented and specialized…but nobody has the vast general survival skills that a hunter-gatherer has. So in a global cataclysm, actually – at first counter-intuitively – the people who would survive it would be the hunter-gatherers, and an advanced civilization would be smart if they were survivors to seek refuge among hunter-gatherers, to make that the place where they might try to restart their civilization.
1:30:00 – Joe asks about the timeline for seafaring in the ancient world. Graham responds, discussing amazing skills of the Polynesian navigators. Then moves on to maps that might be evidence for sea-faring back during the last Ice Age. “What all this suggests to me is that the world was mapped and explored by a global sea-faring culture with a level of technology that was at least equivalent to ours at the end of the 18th century, during the Ice Age.”
1:36:30 – Discussion of ‘Bimini Road‘ in the Bahamas, which Graham says is represented on the Piri Reis map. “But the key issue is not whether the Bimini Road is manmade or not, the key issue is that it features on a map above water…and that tells us somebody was mapping that bit of the world when it was above water, and that takes us back a very long way into the past.”
1:40:00 – Topic change to the Antikythera Mechanism.
1:42:00 – Topic change to the Olmecs. Graham notes that he didn’t cover them in the latest book, but Joe asks him to discuss it further for those that don’t know about them. After some talk about the Olmecs, the subject morphs into similar iconography found in different cultures around the ancient world.
1:52:00 – Joe returns to the topic of Olmecs, asking about the facial features found on the famous ‘Olmec heads‘.
1:55:00 – On debating archaeological controversies with skeptics and critics. Graham: “I’d like to see much more engagement and much more positive approach. [They’re] welcome to their skepticism, but I wish they’d be less hateful, less full of derision, less despising.”
I am not saying that I am 100% right. I believe what I’m doing that is worthwhile is that I’m asking questions about the past that haven’t been asked enough…I’m offering an alternative theory, and my objective is to get people to think for themselves.
2:05:30 – Joe returns to the topic of how the modern world would fare after a global cataclysm, mentions his fears of how everything is digital these days and would disappear in an apocalypse.
2:07:45 – With discussion having turned back to the topic of global cataclysms, Graham talks about the possible modern day threat of an impact from the Taurid meteor stream.
The same group of scientists who are looking at the evidence for the impacts 12,800 years ago, are deeply concerned that we may face future impacts from the Taurid meteor stream…there are still large objects up there.
We need to look after this planet, it’s our responsibility as a species to do so, and one of the challenges – it’s not the only one, there are many other challenges – is to pay attention to our cosmic environment, and to realize that the cosmos can intervene cataclysmically in the human story.
2:14:00 – Tunguska explosion mentioned as a likely example of a Taurid meteor impact.
2:15:30 – Graham: “There’s a curious denial of the role of cataclysms in the human story. There’s even a word for that in science, ‘uniformitarianism’. This is a particular philosophy of science where the view is that everything as we see it in the world today is how things have always been. So if we don’t see cataclysms today, and they’re not playing a major part in our story today, then there weren’t cataclysms and they didn’t play a major part in our story in the past.”
2:17:30 – Discussion of whether there were any other ‘species’ of humans in the Americas. Graham discusses the recent reevaluation of the Neanderthals, and also the discovery of the Denisovans. Talks about his research trip to Denisova cave, and anomalous artifacts of Denisovan culture.
We’re discovering new stuff about ourself. We’re discovering that our story is much richer, much more textured, much more layered, than we thought it was. It’s not a simple story, it’s a very complicated story, and we ourselves are a hybrid species.
The fact that we’re only just finding this out now – that we told the story of our past and weren’t aware of this – raises the question of how much else in the story of our past is there that we’re not aware of. Let’s stop being so arrogant, so sure of ourselves, so confident in our findings. Let’s be more tentative, let’s keep an open mind and see where it takes us.
2:26:00 – On archaeologists attacking him: “Archaeologists like to insult me by calling me a pseudoscientist. I can’t think of anything more pseudoscientific than the ‘Clovis first’ doctrine, which locked American archaeology for 50 years in a particular framework which we now know was totally wrong.”
“What I’m hoping the book will do in the long run is that it will lead to more attention being focused on the Americas. This is a very neglected area of the world as far as deep and ancient archaeology goes… I think America is going to contain revelations for us about our story, and about our past. And I’m serious when I suggest that America is the most plausible and the most likely home base for a lost civilization.”
2:28:00 – Discussion of Moundville, and cultural similarities with ancient Egypt.
2:30:35 – Joe asks again about the anomalous drill hole in Denisovan bracelet. Graham says it is a mystery.
2:32:00 – Graham discusses his visit to Serpent Mound, Ohio on the summer solstice.
2:35:00 – Discussing ‘natural alignments’ of Serpent Mound; Graham compares with the naturally aligned sarsen stones of Stonehenge.
We in modern cities forget that the cosmos exists…we’re cut off from the cosmos, we’re cut off from the notion that it is sacred, that it matters to the human creature. What the ancients seem to have done is realize how vital that connection is, and to memorialize it and celebrate it.
2:39:30 – Sudden jump on to the topic of DMT.
2:41:15 – Back to Serpent Mound. Joe asks whether alignments are affected by precession of the equinoxes.
2:42:30 – Joe starts to wrap things up. Graham quickly mentions that apart from Serpent Mound, listeners should check out two other sites in Ohio: Newark and Highbank, “two incredible, amazing, absolutely stunning gorgeous geometric sites.”