on September 6, 2000
To ask questions and seek for answers is a solely human trait - trait that lead to great discoveries and meteorite speed of technical and intellectual progress of modern times. However, to spread new knowledge and theories, if they contradict accepted conventions is equally difficult: it's a "prejudice" of all highly developed societies to acknowledge that their theories on creation and development of civilization might well be wrong or that it's finally time to doubt them. History numerously proves that it's easier to reject and ignore than to refute. This book can be rejected or its theories refuted, but it can't be silently ignored.
As the headline for this book I can mention author's words: "I'm just following the science where it leads me... If my findings are in conflicts with their theory about the rise of civilization then maybe it Ò time to re-evaluate that theory".
Indeed, some aspects of the book's topics (eternal questions of "who are we", "who were our ancestors", "what is the message of ancient civilizations", "what stands behind stupendous monuments of Incas, Mayas, Egyptians", "why ancient mythologies have so much in common", "are civilizations cyclic and are we heading for a disaster'' etc) made me wonder, some I didn't quite grasp (e.g. part on solar equinoxes and solstices, precessions of earth and ecliptic cycles), a few seemed to be a little farfetched, but overwhelming flow of new information made me eager to investigate further, to doubt the facts we usually read in textbooks and also to express support to the author by writing this.
It was a genuine pleasure for me to read a very comprehensible and persuasive account on travels, research and evidence Mr. Hancock carried out. I truly admire his courage and devotion. His theories are fascinating, logical and stand on the basis of new (or old, but "unnoticed") facts and research carried out by various scientists in archeology, astronomy, geology and anthropology.
Although I have a great interest on research and new theory, I hardly belong to the credible lot and flow of info during last couple of years (especially all the "year 2000" craze), taught me to view very critical all these pseudo-scientific and simply laughable theories. This author is not blabbering some nonsense that Pyramids were built by Martians or were used to pump water, or that Ice Age was caused by a nuclear explosion or that dinosaurs died of flu.
But 4 stars account for the ending of the book: theories, however persuasive and alluring, were left hanging in the air, and singular message suddenly became supreme: that there was a civilization, equal in development to our own, although different in thinking, ca BC 11 000 that wanted to warn us about a recurring natural catastrophe. It seems we've had enough of this "last judgment" staff, even if it's going to occur. To my opinion, other questions initiated by the author were of much more interest.
However, the book should definitely be read (and judging by a hundred of reviews it is read and causes lively discussions) as a tribute to spread quest for truth and knowledge in the name of the progress of our own civilization (oops, do I sound like Fox Mulder here?)
on August 7, 2000
"Fingerprints of the Gods" is one of those books you want to like, but the actual reading is aggravating and disappointing. The author spends lot of time and energy developing several threads covering everything from mythology to geology. He presents a lot of evidence that apparently exposes contradictions in the current official history, and also presents evidence that seems to support his own theories. Unfortunately, while much of what he covers is good, solid evidence, he often doesn't seem to be able to draw a line between a reasoned conclusion and an unreasoned leap of imagination. For example, he makes a great deal of the fact that the age of stone artifacts can not directly be determined, and thus that the age of a stone artifact dug from a grave is at "least" as old as the grave. However, he then seems to decide that this gives him the ability to greatly increase the age of the artifact, sometimes by as much as 10,000 years or more. A great case is made for placing the age of the Sphinx of Egypt as being much older than the 4,500 years normally stated based on the evidence of rain erosion marks. But then the text suddenly digresses into talking about how the Sphinx "might" be 40,000 years old instead of "at least" 7,000 years old.
The author does present a lot of information that is very tantalizing and should stimulate good discussion regarding the interpretation of existing evidence, whether his conclusions are right or wrong. He also points out connections between things as diverse as artifacts and myths in a more reasoned light than, say, some previous works on the subject of ancient civilizations and chariot driving extra-terrestrials. The very extensive list of footnotes should allow the interested reader to pursue the author's sources for himself which include works ranging from layperson publications to official scientific journals.
Ultimately, the book falls down for me in the final chapters. Many of the threads he develops start to contradict each other. He concludes that the evidence indicates that a hypothesized phenomena called Crustal Displacement occurred about 10-12 thousand years ago and shifted the global crust such that Antarctica moved from a temperate climate zone to its present position (the entire crust shifted in one piece, not just Antarctica). In short, he argues that the Ice Ages are nothing more than the changing location of the polar ice caps due to periodic catastrophic shifts in the global crust. The idea is that the location of the ice age has simply moved, not disappeared. He develops a lot of data to support the ancient maps that supposedly show Antarctica as it would appear today where it ice free. Yet he ignores information that he presented in previous chapters, such as idea that the collapse of the previous Ice Age increased the current sea levels by 400 feet and covered much of the archaeological evidence. Or that this rise in sea levels would confuse the apparent accuracy of the maps purporting to show the coastline of Antarctica during the Ice Age.
Finally, he proposes that a lost civilization of a technology level equal to or greater than our own existed on Antarctica and that it was destroyed (Atlantis like) as a result of this catastrophe. He then states that after this catastrophe the remnants of this civilization spread out to the rest of the world, where it suddenly decided to attempt to spread what was left of its high technology among the existing and surviving hunter-gatherer populations. Oh, and they also encoded a secret message into these hunter-gathers. The implication is that this high tech civilization existed in isolation from the rest of the world for thousands of years, and then suddenly sought to redeem itself by altruistic acts and by developing a complex mind game meant to be unread for thousands of years. Given man's greed and known record of exploitation of other cultures, I find both ideas hard to believe.
on June 19, 2000
The author of this book makes two main mistakes:
1. He starts with a conclusion. In a violation of the scientific method, Mr. Hancock begins at the end; at the start of his work he has already decided that the Earth was home to a civilized people (from Atlantis?) millenia before current data suggests. He then distorts evidence to "prove" this thesis in much the same manner that Creationists distort data to prove their absurdities; by only allowing for one explanation for any apparent anomaly.
2. Ethnocentrism and out-dated Anthropology. Hancock's work is also tainted by his acceptance of a cultural fallacy: That civilized life is the easiest, most "advanced" form of human social existance, and that it is a goal that all humans work toward, adopted by food-foragers as soon as they are given the oppurtunity. However this concept of unilineal evolution has been disproven over and over again, starting with Marshall Sahlins' 1972 book "Stone Age Economics." This puts the lie to phrases used by Hancock such as "golden age of agricultural plenty" and reveals the real (but perhaps unconscious) purpose behind the book as an attempt to explain why, since civilization and intensive agriculture are so wonderful, fully modern humans existed without them for 100,000 years.
Despite these very serious flaws the book does raise some very interesting points, such as the apparent evidence of water-erosion on the Sphynx, and (most interesting) the apparently ancient map detailing an ice-free Anartica. Unfortunately, the serious problems detailed before cast a shadow over the credibility of the entire work, which makes me much less able to readily accept these enigmas, which would be very intriguing in a different context. However they are enough, combined with Fingerprints of the Gods well-written and very readable presentation, to lead me to give this book 2 stars instead of one. Readers are advised to take everything Hancock says with a very big grain of salt.
on May 15, 2000
Although the book is an interesting read for the number of tidbits that the author reveals, I would like to warn anyone interested in this book about the pernicious absurdities that underlying this book, that seem to have been completely ignored by its critics. Although Hancock does not state it explicitly, he is trying to imply that edifices of the ancient Egyptians and South Americans were constructed according to knowledge imparted by Aryan survivors of Atlantis. This is a current theory in occult circles, which has been circulating since the sixteenth century, and was most clearly elaborated by H.P. Blavatsky, god-mother of the New Age movement. Essentially, this theory posits that the Aryans are the most advanced of races, and that they have been created by a race of divine beings on the continent of Atlantis. When the continent was destroyed, the Aryans fled, later conquering several civilizations, imparting the advanced knowledge they had rescued.
Hancock searches the mythology of the Egyptians and South Americans to find evidence of the colonization of white civilizers. These civilizations divided history among the rule of the Gods, the rule of heroes and the rule of men. The rule of the gods is thought to refer to the original Aryan colonizers. At one point, Hancock attempts to demonstrate that the South Americans had depicted a Caucasian in a blatantly ambiguous relief sculpture, whose only Aryan feature would be small beard. Hancock also goes on the present the worldwide recognition of a universal cataclysm, to refer to the period that these Caucasians or Aryans would have survived. Because astrology is one of the main aspects of what is thought be the Ancient Wisdom of the Aryans, finally, Hancock attempts to prove that the pyramids were configured according to astronomical data.
As acknowledged by occultists, the Ancient Wisdom is the Kabbalah, from which they have borrowed their fansical theories. However, the Kabbalah is not an ancient wisdom, but a Jewish heresy of the sixth century BC. This astronomical knowledge identified with the Kabbalah can also be demonstrated to have emerged in the same century. It has often been attributed to the Babylonians, who supposedly taught it to the Egyptians, or to the Indians who taught it to the Babylonians, but always back to the original Aryan conquerors. However, as Franz Cumont has pointed out:
"That Babylon was the mother of astronomy, star-worship, and astrology, that thence these sciences and these beliefs spread over the world, is a fact already told us by the ancients... But the mistake of the Pan-Babylonists, whose wide generalizations rest on the narrowest and flimsiest of bases, lies in the fact that they have transferred to the nebulous origins of history, conceptions which were not developed at the beginning but quite at the end of the Babylonian civilization. This vast theology, founded upon the observation of the stars, which is assumed to have been built up thousands of years before our era, nay, before the Trojan War, and to have imposed itself on all still barbarous peoples as the expression of a mysterious wisdom, cannot have been in existence at this remote period, for the simple reason that the data on which it would have been founded, were as yet unknown...
on May 8, 2000
Many readers find Mr Hancock's ideas exciting challenges to the established orthodoxy. Well I suppose they are, but for a new theory to overturn an old one, it is generally the case that the new theory encompasses established facts and includes new ones which are at odds with the old theory. The overturning of classical mechanics by quantum mechanics is the typical example here.
My problem with Mr Hancock's work is not that he challenges scientific orthodoxy, indeed anyone with the slightest acquaintance with science will know that such challenges are the very lifeblood of the advance of scientific understanding, but that there are glaring examples of his theory not accounting for facts perfectly adequately explained by existing theories. An example is the aging of Antarctic ice cores, Mr Hancock does not address the issue of how they can be so much older than would be allowed by his theory.
While Mr Hancock's research may be "brilliant", to quote other reviewers, it certainly is not exhaustive.
At the end of the day, Mr Hancock has presented a new theory, the onus is on him to show why it should be taken seriously. Making basic errors is not the way to persuade the scientific community.
on April 27, 2000
Maybe the reason why critical reviews have such a smaller "approval ratio" than adoring ones is that the people who look up a book on Amazon are more likely to be fans of it than bitter, twisted enemies, bent on revenge.
Oh, almost forgot to mention Fingerprints of the Gods. Well there's not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said. Hancock present to us a hugely diverse range of fascinating oddities, from all around the world, and attempts to link them together with the grandiose notion of a highly advanced civilization, about which we know virtually nothing because (wait for it)... any remaining evidence will be buried beneath miles of Antarctic ice.
Certainly there's lots to ponder over, but I'm afraid that Hancock's treatment of the evidence is sorely lacking in scientific rigour (for instance, many times we're told something along the lines of: Such and such a thing is an uncannily accurate and expertly crafted representation of X, but the people couldn't possibly have known about X unless blah blah blah, but the thing in question doesn't look very accurate or expertly drawn to me... maybe I'm just a philistine).
I don't doubt that we have a huge amount of explaining to do before we can honestly claim to understand how, say, the Egyptian pyramids came to be constructed - and this book certainly does a fine job of drawing this to our attentions. However, the links Hancock draws between the disparate trails of evidence are far too tenuous to justify his conclusions.
Still, it's great fun to read - just be sure to approach it with your skeptical hat on.
on April 6, 2000
How much Faith do you have in Science? What Science is there in Faith? Hancock toes the line between the seen and unseen is this courageous episode of his remarkable series of books. Whether or not I agree or disagree with his outrageous conclusions, I can say honestly that I enjoy this book for a number of concrete reasons. First, I continue to return to it. I am one of those readers who freely allows my mind to spiral off into dreams at whim. Hancock's Fingerprints is a perfect book for the professional dreamer. Since I first read this book, more than a year ago, I have unshelved it countless times as my own dreams, unyeildingly, crossed paths with his. Second, Hancock is a true Humanist and his writings cross the borders of culture and language sans passport. It's refreshing to read something without experiencing that judgemental urge to scold the writer for his foolish, narrow views. Third, every great idea began as a unlikely thought. "New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common." -Locke So, is it possible that those who came before us were greater than our grandest dreams? You better believe it.
on March 23, 2000
We see that Graham Hancock dazzles his audience with claims of an Antarctic super civilization. If you look in the back of the book we see that most of Hancock's sources are of old age. For instance, he uses references of the Piri Ris map, which is very old in itself. It's a map that supposedly shows Antarctica without ice on it. There has been scientific evidence that shows the antartic continent not covered with ice was just parts of the stem of South America and such. Also, when investigating the Tiahuanaco complex, he ignores all the careful archaeological work over the years and puts its date to 10,000 b.c. He totally ignores all the facts against him. In my opinion, he is insulting the many respectable archaeologists that base their theories on fact, not conjecture. Just read Nick Thorpe's Ancient Mysteries published recently. I did and I saw how outrageous and bogus his theories are. I would read this one just to get a good laugh. Also in question are Robert Bauval's theories, but that's a whole different book entirely.
on March 6, 2000
This is a book you MUST read to make up your own mind. If you don't want to spend the money on a book you think is controversial (and it is) - go and get it out of the Library. Don't let any of these reviews make up your mind for you, including this one. Just read it.
I am not a scientist and therefore cannot back or belittle these theories scientifically. But I am a person with an open mind with intelligence.
Graham Hancocks book is a fantastic theory whether you believe it or not. Reading this book made me realise how a lot of Egyptologists and scientist go around with blinkers on and are not prepared in any way to listen to another theory, especially if it may change school textbooks and the fact that they may have got it wrong.
We must remember that when we do walk around in musuems a lot of information that they have on artifacts are just good scientific guesses (a lot of people do believe everything they read - perhaps me included...), because basically they do not really know. Be nice if they were not too proud to admit that.
One part of the book which really got me upset (which was good) is the fact that a lot of artifacts which they really do not know what they are, are left to rot in the archives and eventually forgotton about (and perhaps thrown out! forever to be lost to us).
This book bought to me that it is about time some groups of people (i.e. egyptologists, Nasa and the rest of the world) started to work together with the realisation that we might actually discover some real truths about the world and our lost history that would benefit us all not just individuals if we simply worked as a team.
But I guess that is human nature. Shame.
on January 8, 2000
I read this book when it was first published, back in 1995, and as a rather credulous 14 year-old, was captivated by the exotic locations, ancient structures, and provocative theories it featured. Hancock's writing style, though not in the least scientific, had such an energy and a genuine enthusiasm for even the most outlandish claims that I found myself utterly engrossed by the material.
Looking back some years later, after subsequent re-consideration, I have concluded that while my initial worshipful praise of the book was unmerited, neither does the volume deserve the reproof and utter condemnation accorded it by some previous reviewers.
It is certainly dangerous to uncritically accept many of the more improbable theories of this book, most notably the claim that Atlantis was in fact Antarctica, which itself (in an ice-free state) was home to an ancient and highly advanced civilization. The appeal here, as in many other instances, is to popular imagination rather than rational inquiry: the book is not written for specialists, but for the public, and as such Hancock can afford to spout baseless theories knowing full well that many gullible readers will be taken in. The opinionated attacks on so-called "orthodox" Egyptologists and the highly tenuous astronomical, mythological, and historical claims are not only irresponsible and unscholarly, they aid the spread of misinformation among a public that is obviously all too eager to absorb any new, enticing, "unorthodox" theory.
At its very core, however, the book is grounded in fact, and it is at this most basic level that the astute reader can glean some genuine insight. The chapter dealing with Giza, in particular, raises some perfectly valid questions about the building methods of the Egyptians. Why, for instance, are the pyramids of Giza totally unadorned? Not a single commemorative line, cartouche, or relief sculpture graces the inner chambers of what are reputed to be the burial places for three great Pharaohs of a prominent Egyptian dynasty. How where these great structures built, and why did the builders prefer cyclopean, 200-ton blocks to smaller, more manageable ones, which would have been perfectly adequate in terms of structural and aesthetic qualities? These questions, and many more (particularly those concerning the antiquity of the sphinx) are sound and thought provoking.
Despite some of the clear-headed logic that emerges in certain instances, the book often lapses into far-fetched theories on subjects as varied as Aztec mythology and Ice-Age climate. Hancock takes a valid point and carries it far beyond its logical conclusion. The book is at heart entertainment, and it is written to please the imagination rather than the intellect. We all want to believe in an ancient, highly-advanced civilization, a mysterious "Golden Age," lost in the depths of antiquity, during which humanity attained a godlike perfection. This desire (it unquestionably exists) is more the realm of psychology than history, and Hancock has taken it, as many of the myths he analyzes, far too literally.
So, if anyone has bothered to read this far, the book is an entertaining read which provides descriptions of some of the world's most intriguing and ancient structures: it simply does not provide believable answers to the questions it raises. Take what you can from its more lucid passages, and approach the rest with a dose of logic and measured skepticism.