by Graham Hancock
Return to Temas
Recent underwater archaeological discoveries of cities and
A whole new window on the past is opened by archaeological finds
around the world of underwater cities and ruins that appear to pre-date Sumer by thousands of years. Two links are given
here to introduce this topic to the reader as an area of study that
is just developing and promises to fill out our knowledge of our
Many of the sites, flooded out at the end of the last ice age,
contain structures of advanced construction which archaeologists
note would be beyond the capacity of the humans as they conceive of
their capabilities living in those times, perhaps 10,000 to 12,000
years ago ---- although there are historical references to these now
underwater areas in both recorded and oral history of the regions in
One might expect that Indian scientists
would keep to the scientific paradigm, although it is frustrating,
and so not speculate. The Indian scientists do freely recognize that
there are references to these ancient sites extant in Indian history
and are reconsidering the dating of the writing of the history. By
and large, however, Indian scientists do not seem to
give much attention Sitchin's material, perhaps because it is
focused more on the Middle East.
Graham Hancock has become focused on these sites and has been
diving on them personally to investigate. He has compared the
archaeological information and dating gathered by scientists and
himself with the recorded and oral histories concerning some
of these sites extant in India. But Graham is
also familiar with Sitchin's thesis and scholarship and it
would be very valuable to compare the new information with the
information that Sitchin has published about
the Anunnaki had been here from around 432,000 years ago
according to Sitchin, created us some 200,000 years ago,
obviously they would have been in a position to build or have humans
build cities and centers any place on the planet they chose
and would be the most likely candidates for investigation. It may
sustain the mystery to simply claim a "lost civilization"
but, as revealed over and over again in the Middle East
and the Americas and India on currently
dry land, these may be yet more sites built by or directed to be
built by the Anunnaki. At very least, because of the
history already well known to that effect and it's fundamental
importance to the restoration of our real history, it is only
reasonable that a serious determination should be made as to a
connection to the Anunnaki or not. Either way, a
significant contribution would be made.
The central claim of my 1995 book
Fingerprints of the Gods is not
that there was but that there could have been a lost civilization,
which flourished and was destroyed in remote antiquity.
And I wrote
the book, quite deliberately, not as a work of science but as a work
of advocacy. I felt that the possibility of a lost civilization had
not been adequately explored or tested by mainstream scholarship. I
set myself the task of rehabilitating it by gathering together, and
passionately championing, all the best evidence and arguments in its
In the early 1990's when I was researching Fingerprints there
were a number of new ideas in the air that seemed to me to have an
important bearing on the lost civilization debate. These included
Robert Bauval's Orion correlation, Rand and
Rose Flem-Ath's work on Antarctica and earth-crust
displacement, and the geological case presented by John
Anthony West and Robert Schoch that the Great Sphinx
of Giza might be much older than had hitherto been thought.
At the same time I was aware of a huge reservoir of popular
literature, going back more than a century to the time of
Ignatius Donnelly, in which the case for a lost civilization had
been put again and again, in many different ways and from many
different angles. I knew that not a single word of this vast
literature had ever been accepted by mainstream scholars who
remained steadfast in their view that the history of civilization is
known and includes no significant forgotten episodes.
But, I thought, what if the scholars have got it wrong? What if
we've forgotten something important in our story? What if we are a
species with amnesia?
After all, scientists are now pretty sure that anatomically
modern humans, just like us, have been around for at
least the last 120,000 years.
Yet our "history" begins 5000 years ago with
the first cities and the first written records. And the prehistory
of this process has presently only been traced back (often quite
tentatively) to the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years
ago when it's thought that mankind began to make the transition from
hunter-gathering to food production.
So what were we doing during the previous 110,000 years?
And isn't it odd that we only really remember the last 5000 well
and have to "reconstruct" our picture of everything that went
before from extremely scanty remains that have accidentally survived
the passage of time?
So I decided that I would re-examine the popular literature on
Atlantis and other lost
civilizations, including the work of writers like Erich von
Zecharia Sitchin, to see
whether there was anything in it that might strengthen the new
synthesis I had in mind.
I also made a clear decision at the outset that it was not my job to
present an "objective" or "balanced" case for a lost
civilization by giving deference to orthodox views on the matter.
Rather I saw my role as doing the best that I possibly could to
present a persuasive counter-case to the orthodox position and to
undermine the largely unquestioned support and acceptance habitually
given to the mainstream version of the past. In the late 1980's when
the idea of Fingerprints first began to take shape in my
mind, orthodox history and archaeology enjoyed absolute intellectual
dominance over the unorthodox, "alternative" camp.
people who even speculated vaguely that the
Great Pyramids of Giza might have been more than
tombs and tombs only were branded as "pyramidiots",
anyone with an interest in Atlantis was automatically
assumed to belong to the lunatic-fringe, and in general the notion
of a lost civilization was rapidly on its way to becoming the
non-issue of the twentieth century, good only for popular
entertainment but of no serious weight.
I felt that the only way to confront this mindset was to write a
passionate one-sided book - and this is exactly what I set out to
Fingerprints of the Gods.
I sought out what I thought was most provocative and intriguing in
the popular literature from Donnelly to von Daniken,
and in the exciting new ideas of Bauval, the Flem-Aths,
West and Schoch. I also looked for any and every
weapon I could find in mainstream historical and archaeological
research that I might be able to turn against the orthodox view of
At the same time I spread my limited funds as widely as I
could, engaging myself at first hand in the mysteries of some of the
most intriguing and spectacular ancient sites around the world - amongst them the
Pyramids and the Sphinx of Egypt,
Nazca Lines of Peru,
the megalithic city of
Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, and the
Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at Teotihuacan
in Mexico. In each place I built my own synthesis upon a
superstructure that others had already erected, trying to bring
together disparate evidence and observations with the objective of
reinvigorating the lost civilization idea from the doldrums into
which it had fallen.
I think I succeeded in this objective. As increasing numbers of
university lecturers in disciplines like archaeology and ancient
history will tell you, part of their job now is to "debunk
Hancock" to credulous students - in other words, those
students who are foolish enough to suspect, as I do, that there
really could have been a lost civilization.
I know of three books that have been written rubbishing my work, an
official "debunking" website has been founded with the
same purpose, and I recently had the privilege, alongside my friend
Robert Bauval (author of The Orion Mystery), of
finding myself the subject of an entire episode of BBC2's
prestigious science series Horizon.
The thrust of Horizon's argument was that the idea of any
kind of great lost civilization of prehistory is nothing more than "preposterous",
"misleading", "insidious" "garbage". "You could
summarize it by saying a load of codswallop" proclaimed Colin
Renfrew, Professor of Archaeology at the University
of Cambridge. The programme portrayed me essentially as a
charlatan, or as a fool, or perhaps as a bit of both. No
merit whatsoever was found in anything I have ever written. My ideas
were dismissed as valueless and I was accused of presenting evidence
selectively in order to bias the reader in favor of the lost
Thus the very method that I had chosen to restore balance to
an extremely one-sided debate - by writing a book that one-sidedly
champions and advocates the neglected possibility of a lost
civilization - was now being cited as a fundamental critique of my
A different approach, not a different position Fingerprints
of the Gods was intended to shake things up
It did. And I stand by it.
The book raised many legitimate questions and brought together new
arguments and evidence in support of the lost civilization
But I researched and wrote it between 1991 and 1994 when serious
debate on this possibility was rare. Fingerprints was part of
a process that stimulated serious debate and as a result the
standards of evidence and argument today are much higher than they
were in the early 1990's.
Then my top priority was to cram in and get down on the page
anything and everything that I thought might weigh in favor of the
lost civilization idea. This was more important to me at that time
than taking meticulous care with the quality of every source or
being choosy about what leads I followed. I was also too quick to
attack weaknesses in the orthodox position while failing to take
proper account of orthodox strengths.
The result was that my case for a lost civilization was anything but
bullet-proof ,and Fingerprints has come in for a massive
amount of criticism - some of it richly deserved. Often, for
example, I ignored the official carbon dates for sites I was writing
about - just brushed them aside on the grounds that C-14 can't date stone monuments directly
- and got on with
finding my own way through all the good (and bad) reasons to doubt
the orthodox chronology.
This was a mistake. With the benefit of hindsight I now recognize
that I should have taken much fuller account of the C-14
evidence for megalithic sites like Tiahuanaco,
and presented it to my readers in sufficient depth and detail before
making the case for an alternative chronology. I should have
understood that in the long run no attempt to propose much greater
antiquity for any archaeological site is likely to thrive unless it
can deal with the carbon dates on which the orthodox chronology
However, what I'm referring to here is the whole approach that led
me to be so cavalier about C-14, not any of the basic
questions about the past that I raised in Fingerprints and my
other books. I still think, for example, that a great mystery
surrounds Tiahuanaco in Bolivia and that it's origins
may be much older than we are taught. I'm glad I presented some of
the evidence for an older Tiahuanaco in
Fingerprints, and in Heaven's Mirror, but I also
recognize in retrospect that my case was weak because it failed to
deal with the C-14 evidence against an older
Accordingly I've set out with
Underworld to write a
book of historical dissent that is nevertheless rooted and
grounded in accepted archaeological evidence in a way that
Fingerprints is not - and wasn't intended to be. By way of
direct comparison, Underworld contains a challenge to the
orthodox chronology of Malta's megalithic sites
that's just as ambitious as the challenge to Tiahuanaco's
antiquity in Fingerprints.
The big difference is that in
Underworld I thoroughly examine the Maltese C-14 evidence,
and indeed the other ingredients of the orthodox chronology, and
take full account of these in the case I make.
So there is definitely a change of approach in this new book. But
this should not be confused with any fundamental change of attitude
on my part towards my previous books - because there has been no
such fundamental change. In response to a question on this subject
put to me recently on the
Message Board of this site I
I regard all my work
as a continuity. Like every other human I make mistakes. Like
everyone else I learn from my mistakes, grow in the process, and
try not to repeat them in future.
But you would be wrong
to imagine because I recognize and am willing to admit to mistakes
when I've made them that this means any kind of "retraction"
of my previous work..
The central point of
Keeper [of Genesis] and Heaven's
Mirror is that there has been a major forgotten
episode in human history localized around the end of the Ice
Age and that this forgotten episode will likely be proved to
have involved the loss of an urban civilization that was at least
advanced enough to have mapped the world. Maybe there was more than
one lost civilization? I've never ruled out that possibility.
After what I've learnt in order to write Underworld I
feel a lot closer to proving this central point, not a lot further
Another Message Board contributor also asked me what if
anything I retracted in my previous books. I replied:
It's not a matter of
retracting anything, but a matter of evolving as a person, as a
researcher and as a writer. It's also a matter of listening to
my critics and trying to find a new approach that takes their
reasonable concerns into account. Although not all their
concerns are reasonable some of them are. Contrary to
appearances I don't disagree with everything they say about me.
More often what I disagree with is how they say it.
In a way I'm lucky to
have such vigilant critics because it keeps me on my toes.
Because I very much wanted to avoid another battle over old bitterly
contested ground, Underworld is not a book about
Egypt, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Easter Island or Angkor - which were
primary subject areas in my earlier books.
Geographically the main above-water focus in Underworld
is on India, Malta, Japan, China and Taiwan.
There is a section on ancient maps in Fingerprints and there
is a major section on ancient maps in Underworld. The work on
maps in Underworld is all new, and does not cover any of the
ground covered in Fingerprints. Nevertheless the chapters on
ancient maps in Underworld strongly support the notion
advocated in Fingerprints - i.e. that the world was
mapped at various stages during the meltdown of the Ice Age.
In summary I regard Underworld as a much stronger defense
than anything I have previously written of the essential concept of
my previous works - namely that there has been a significant
forgotten episode in human history, that the post-glacial cataclysms
have something central to do with it, and that civilization as we
know it has far older roots than is presently accepted. At the same
time, my objective from the outset has also been to present a very
simple and yet completely new idea that's never been explored or
worked through before.
The jigsaw-puzzle lost continent
In Underworld the simple new idea on which the whole
investigation is founded arises from facts of geology that have been
well-known for decades. At the end of the Ice Age, over a 10,000
year period between 17,000 and 7000 years ago - just before the
supposed beginnings of civilization - 25 million
square kilometers of what were then the most habitable
lands on earth were flooded by rising sea levels
as the ice caps melted. That's a landmass roughly equivalent in size
to the whole of South America (17 million sq kms) and the United
States (9.6 million sq kms) added together. Its an area almost three
times as large as Canada and much larger than China and Europe
And it's also an area on which hardly any archaeology has
ever been done. How can we be sure, therefore, that archaeology has
got the story of the origins of civilization right when so many of
the places where our ancestors lived shortly before what we think of
as the start of civilization have never been studied by
archaeologists at all?
We have to remember that the world was very different just before
the end of the Ice Age. Huge expanses of the northern
hemisphere that are centers of habitation today were then buried
beneath ice caps three kilometers thick and almost as uninhabitable
as the surface of the moon. Our ancestors were forced to migrate - typically to low-lying coastal areas close to fertile river deltas
and the resources of the sea. They could not have anticipated that
the ice-caps from which they had fled would melt, causing
sea-level to rise more than 400 feet, flooding for ever the
lowlands on which they had taken refuge.
The result is a jigsaw-puzzle "lost continent",
scattered under the oceans at depths down to 400 feet that I
have set myself the challenge of exploring. Since nobody else is
doing it I'm searching for evidence of earlier civilizations that
might have flourished there before history began..
In many ways it's a quixotic and seemingly hopeless quest. The sea
covers 70 per cent of the earth's surface and as recently as 1997 a
chain of submerged mountains 1000 miles long and almost 10,000
feet high was discovered on the bottom of the Pacific
Ocean. The point is that if things on the scale of
underwater mountain ranges can go undetected until so
late in this age of high technology then it's obviously not going to
be easy to find much smaller targets like flooded cities and
monuments. Even at the crude mapping level, it's one of the
absurdities of scientific priorities that we now have a better map
of the surface of Venus than we do of the 88 million
square miles of our own planet's sea-floor.
But the search could be narrowed. Thanks to the generosity of Dr
Glenn Milne of the University of Durham's Department of
Geology, I was able to study state-of-the art computerized
"inundation maps" that he and his colleagues have prepared which can
simulate the earth's coastlines as they would have looked at any
point during the meltdown of the Ice Age. I was able
to see that the 25 million square kilometers swallowed up by the
rising seas in this period included vast areas that lay adjacent to
recognized early centers of agriculture and civilization:
home to what are supposedly the oldest freestanding temples in
the world, is today just a tiny island in the Mediterranean. But
until the end of the Ice Age it was joined to
Sicily by a land-bridge 60 miles long.
Fertile Crescent, the Persian Gulf was dry
land until around 12,000 years ago with a vast river running
through it formed out of the combined streams of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The southern
part of the Gulf was not fully flooded until about 8000 years
close to a million square miles were lost - mostly in
the northwest and the southeast.
wide strip of coast was inundated off China's
east coast as far north as Korea.
Further south an
Ice Age continent called Sundaland connected
the Malay peninsula to Indonesia and
the Philippines until around 10,000 years ago.
On the western side
of the Atlantic the Florida and Grand
Bahamas Banks were fully exposed until after 7000 years
ago - the same time that the first traces of agriculture began
to appear in mainland Central America.
What helped to narrow
the search further were the flood myths of the ancient peoples
of these regions which science confirmed had indeed suffered
extensive inundation at the end of the Ice Age.
And as a keen
scuba-diver I was able to check out any site where fellow divers had
reported strange or unusual underwater structures.
Over the past five years I've put in hundreds of dives all around
the world, and taken big physical risks following up what sounded
like promising leads only to find they came to nothing in the end.
I've ruled out some of the underwater sites I've dived on as being
man-made but too young and others as not being man-made at all - just weird natural formations.
But the remarkable thing, since I do
not have the resources of a marine institute behind me and have to
rely on simple detective-work to plan my dives, is that I have
successfully explored, and now described in
and filmed for my Channel 4 television series, a handful of
genuinely mysterious underwater ruins in the Mediterranean,
in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific
which cannot be explained within the established model of
prehistory. All were last above water at the end of the
Ice Age between 8000 and 12,000 years ago, and all are too
large and complex to have been made by any known culture of that
There are extraordinary local flood traditions in each case, and
quite frequently specific references in myths to submerged ruins
in the vicinity. Local fishermen often know about the ruins - sometimes having to dive down to them to free trapped nets. In some
cases there are also ancient maps (copied during the
Renaissance from even older source maps) that show regions
that are now flooded very much as they would have looked during the
Ice Age when sea-levels were much lower. For example
Portuguese maps drawn in the early 1500s show the northwest
coast of India not as it looked in the 1500's but as it last
looked around 14,000 years ago just before the first of the
three great meltwater pulses that terminated the Ice Age.
Such "ghost lands" also crop up on ancient maps of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the
Pacific, all areas in which unexplained underwater
ruins have been found. The mystery of these extraordinary
ancient maps, and what they might mean for the story of civilization
is explored in Part V of Underworld.
In January 2002 underwater cities off the coast of northwest India made news
all around the world. The two cities, which have been discovered by
India's National Institute of Ocean Technology, each cover an
area of about 10 square miles and lie 120 feet deep in the
Gulf of Cambay in an area that until as late as 6900 years
ago formed a huge fertile valley that was entirely above water. Then
the seas rose again and the Gulf of Cambay was
It therefore seems probable, from the sea-level data alone, that
these mysterious submerged cities, which had towering walls, massive
geometrical buildings and huge engineering works such as dams, must
be more than 7000 years old. Even greater antiquity has been
suggested by the recovery of some 2000 man-made artifacts from the
sites. Recently tested at two different laboratories in India, the
artifacts produced radiocarbon dates ranging from 8500 to 9500 years
That's more than 4000 years older than any advanced city-building
culture so far recognized by archaeologists, and of course great
cities like those now at the bottom of the Gulf of Cambay don't grow
up overnight. For technical reasons the carbon- dates are from
artifacts lifted only from the upper strata of the sites. Once
proper coring can be done to deeper layers of the submerged cities
much more ancient dates are to be expected.
So if they are what they seem to be the cities in the Gulf of Cambay
add up to the Holy Grail that I've been searching for - a lost civilization of the Ice Age, destroyed, as the myths say, by a
flood. In a sense I need nothing more to prove my case.
The mystery of the U-shaped structure
Yet there are so many underworlds.
I'll not add here to what I have to say in the book and the
television series about Malta, China and
Japan - or why and where I
think the Grand Bahamas Bank as it last looked 6000 years ago is
portrayed on the infamous
Piri Reis Map of 1513.
I'd like to close with the Indian "theme" of the last few paragraphs
but in a place about as far away as you can get from the Gulf of Cambay and still be in
The place is called Poompuhar. It lies on southeast India's Coromandel coast facing the Bay of Bengal between modern Tamil Nadu
and Sri Lanka. Its immediate offshore area has been the subject of
marine archaeological investigations by India's National Institute
of Oceanography since the 1980's - and numerous non-controversial
finds of man-made structures dated between the third century AD and
the third century BC have been made in the "inter-tidal zone" close
to shore at depths down to 6 feet (approximately 2 meters).
These finds of structures in shallow water (some so shallow that
they are exposed at low tide) have been quite widely written-up in
the archaeological literature. But for some reason other discoveries
that the NIO has made in deeper water off Poompuhar have attracted
no attention at all. Most notably these other discoveries include a
second completely separate group of structures fully three miles
from the Poompuhar shore in water that is more than 70 feet (23
The lack of interest is surprising because to anyone
with even minimal knowledge of post-glacial sea-level rise their
depth of submergence is - or should be - highly anomalous. Indeed
according to Glenn Milne's sea-level data the land on which these
structures were built last stood above water at the end of the Ice
Age more than 11,000 years ago.
Is it a coincidence that there are ancient Tamil flood myths that
speak of a great kingdom that once existed in this area called
Kumari Kandam that was swallowed up by the sea? Amazingly the myths
put a date of 11,600 years ago on these events - the same timeframe
given by Plato for the end of Atlantis in another ocean.
Like the cities in the Gulf of Cambay the underwater structures
three miles offshore of Poompuhar were first identified by an
instrument called sidescan sonar that profiles the seabed. One
structure in particular was singled out for investigation and was
explored by divers from India's National Institute of Oceanography
in 1991 and 1993. Although they were not at that time aware of the
implications of its depth of submergence - i.e. that it is at least
11,500 years old - the 1991 study confirms that it is man-made and
describes it as:
a horse-shoe-shaped object, its height being one to two
few stone blocks were found in the one-meter wide arm. The distance
between the two arms in 20 meters. Whether the object is a shrine or
some other man-made structure now at 23 meters [70 feet] depth
remains to be examined in the next field season.
The 1993 study refines the measurements:
The structure of
U-shape was located at a water depth of 23 meters
which is about 5 kilometers off shore. The total peripheral length
of the object is 85 meters while the distance between the two arms
is 13 meters and the maximum height is 2 meters. Divers observed
growth of thick marine organism on the structure, but in some
sections a few courses of masonry were noted
After 1993, no further marine archaeology was conducted along the
Poompuhar coast until 2001 when I arranged with the
NIO to dive on
the U-shaped structure with funding from Channel 4 television in
Britain and the Learning Channel in the US. Exclusive footage of the
structure was filmed and is shown in episode 2 of the Underworld
television series. Chapter 14 of the book is a report of our dives
at Poompuhar, and what we found there.
Dr A.S. Gaur of the NIO told me on camera that it would have
required "a very great technology" to build the U-shaped structure
- one far beyond the abilities of known cultures in India 11,500
For Dr Gaur this is a reason to doubt the accuracy of the
sea-level-data which suggests that the structure was submerged so
long ago. However the NIO have not yet been successful in recovering
any datable materials or artifacts that could tell us its age more
directly (for example by C-14 or TL tests).
My own expedition to Poompuhar with the NIO in 2001 was limited to
diving on the
U-shaped structure and one neighboring structure. But
what's really exciting is that more than 20 other large structures
are known to be located in the same area down to depths of more than
100 feet. These have so far been identified only by sidescan sonar
and never yet explored by divers. I've organized an expedition
jointly with India's National Institute of Oceanography and
John Blashford-Snell's Scientific Exploration Society in Britain to map
and investigate these other structures in March/April 2002.
The Cambay and Poompuhar discoveries are both reported in depth for
the first time in
Underworld and set into the proper context of the
flood myths and inundation history of the broader regions to which
If they are what they seem to be - a caution I must repeat since so
little research has actually been done by anyone - then they signal
an exciting new era in Indian archaeology in which the investigation
of submerged ruins will play an increasingly important role. How do
the Poompuhar finds compare with those in Cambay? Are they both
parts of the same lost civilization? Or do they perhaps represent
two separate Ice Age cultures, one based in the north and the other
in the south of the subcontinent?
Further exploration, involving divers, sonar scans and the recovery
and analysis of artifacts will provide the answers.
And for reasons that I explain in Underworld, I think
ancient scriptures, the Vedas, also have a lot to tell us. There are
tremendously good reasons to disbelieve the scholarly consensus
(certainly the consensus amongst Western scholars) that the Vedas were composed as late as 1500 B.C. Parts of them probably do date
from then; but some of the hymns could be much older than that - carried down by oral traditions from much earlier times.
I think it all goes back to the Ice Age.
And in Underworld I try to explain why.