Graham Hancock the well-known investigator of prehistoric mysteries has never discussed the Atlantis enigma in depth. In fact, he once remarked on BBC Television that he avoids using the word ‘Atlantis’ in his books “because most people when they hear the word Atlantis immediately think that they’re dealing with the lunatic fringe”.
Furthermore, he emphasises the potential value of myths as transmitters of historical facts, albeit distorted.
In his 1995 tome on civilisations submerged at the end of the last Ice Age, Fingerprints of the Gods [275.462] he briefly discusses the subject of Atlantis. He accepted that the Atlantic was not harbouring any lost continent, although he was seeking a continental-sized home for his vanished civilisation. Paul Heinrich has posted a review(v) of ‘Fingerprints’.
Similarly, in his earlier work, The Sign and the Seal [678.319], Hancock had clearly discounted the Atlantic as the home of Atlantis. At this point, he appeared to be considering the Antarctic location proposed by the Flem-Aths.
His book, Underworld  was published in 2002 and was followed by a TV programme, Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age, which was based on it. The latter evoked a highly critical review(s) from N.C. Flemming, who has written widely on maritime matters including sea-level changes and sunken cities . Hancock wrote an equally strong response(r) to this.
Hancock maintains an interesting website(a) that is regularly updated with contributions from a wide range of contributors. His bestselling Fingerprints of the Gods is now available online(b).
The other side of the coin is that Hancock’s evidence supporting his theories has been heavily criticised as flawed(g) and misleadingly presented(h).
Hancock “ regularly draws attention to what he considers mystical relationships between the Great Pyramid of Giza and the radius, circumference, and axial precession of the earth…….. Proponents of these “mystical” relationships contend, in addition to existing in the first place, that the relationships must be purposeful and therefore provide direct evidence of advanced capabilities in technology, mathematics, and precise astronomical observing techniques that scholars have long asserted were not available to humans when the pyramids were constructed.” These are among the opening remarks by Thomas W. Schroeder, who published two papers in 2019 criticising Hancock’s scholarship.(y-z)
>E.J. de Meester who proposed an English location for Atlantis, before his website went offline, was critical of Graham Hancock’s hyperdiffusionist concept of Atlantis commenting that “In 1999 Discovery Channel broadcast a three-part series called ‘Quest for the lost Civilisation’.In it, Graham Hancock stated that the pyramids, Angkor Vat, Stonehenge, the stones of Carnac, the Nazca lines, temples in Mexico and the statues of Easter Island were all part of an ancient global civilisation of seafarers who were apparently obsessed by astrology. The temples of Angkor Vat (in Cambodia) were said to be built in the shape of the zodiac sign Draco, the pyramids of Gizeh in the shape of Sirius; the Sphinx is supposed to be looking at the sign of Leo. It’s all rather vague. Hard to say whether it’s nonsense or not. More information can be found in Hancock’s books, like ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ and ‘Heaven’s Mirror’  .” De Meester’s comments are still (2023) available on the archive.org website(ar).
For my part, I consider this hodgepodge of locations presented by Hancock as parts of his global civilisation to be utter nonsense. The sites listed above have little in common; Carnac and Stonehenge are probably the only two that might be considered to be related. Perhaps the most obvious weakness in his claim is the fact that some of the sites are separated by millennia. Easter Island, Angor Wat and Nazca were developed long after Atlantis was submerged<.
Further criticism of Hancock’s scholarship has come from Garrett Fagan, particularly in relation to his comments regarding Antarctica.(aa)
Jason Colavito has written(c) a critical review of Hancock’s work and his recent advocacy “for ayahuasca, a South American hallucinogen. Since taking the drug for his 2005 book Supernatural, Hancock has supported the concept that mind-altering substances give their users access to a spirit world where one can commune directly with the ‘gods’.”
In April 2015, Hancock was due to engage in a debate with Zahi Hawass on the subject of their conflicting views of ancient history. However, when Hawass saw that Hancock included an image of Robert Bauval in his presentation, he refused to continue with the arranged format(d)(t).
In September 2015, Hancock published his, Magicians of the Gods , which worryingly sounds like a von Däniken book title! Already, he is trailing this publication with teasers, such as a claim that he has finally identified the ‘smoking gun’ that demonstrates that a cometary impact destroyed an advanced civilisation in the Antarctic 12,800 years ago(e) Shortly after the initial report was published, Hancock had to correct errors in it(f), the principal one being that the impact site was the North American ice cap NOT Antarctica. An interview with Hancock shortly before the publication of ‘Magicians’(n) is online as is also a review of the book itself(o). A full-length video lecture based on the book is available online(x).
Hancock also climbed aboard the Gobekli Tepe bandwagon, incorporating it along with Noah’s Ark and Atlantis into one narrative(p).
Hancock’s book also engages in scaremongering, with a sales-boosting prediction that an asteroid impact is possible in 2030 when the Earth once again enters the orbit of the remains of Encke’s Comet!
Jason Colavito’s critical review of ‘Magicians‘ is now online(j). A more favourable evaluation of his book is now available from Dr Jon Epstein of Greensboro College, who expresses some interesting views on the closed-mindedness of many academics(k). Epstein’s review prompted further comments from Colavito(l). Following correspondence between Epstein and Colavito, additional claims of academic conspiracy to block Hancock have emerged.
Michael Shermer, a professional sceptic, attacked Hancock’s ‘Magicians’ in a Scientific American article arguing first of all that, “no matter how devastating an extraterrestrial impact might be, are we to believe that after centuries of flourishing, every last tool, potsherd, article of clothing, and, presumably from an advanced civilization, writing, metallurgy and other technologies—not to mention trash—was erased? Inconceivable.” (ab)
Hancock recently received the endorsement of the South African Professor of Philosophy, Bert Olivier, which swiftly produced a response from Colavito(q).
Hancock’s next book, America Before, published in April 2019, proposes that North America was inhabited 130,000 years ago and was home to an advanced civilisation that was destroyed by a cometary impact at the end of the Younger Dryas period, around 10,000 BC. The fact that this is contradicted by Plato does not seem to bother him. Hancock proposed cometary impact damage as the cause of Atlantis’ demise, Plato says flooding. I would prefer Plato’s account as he was nearly two and a half millennia nearer the event. Hancock claims that Atlantean survivors spread their alleged high-tech civilisation around the world. Plato does not describe Atlantis as any more advanced than any other culture. Hancock offers no tangible evidence for his claim.
When asked what he meant by ‘advanced’ Hancock revealed(u) that “I think we’re talking about a civilization – more than 12,000 years ago – which was as advanced as our civilization was, say in the late 18th century or early 19th century. In other words, they could navigate the world, they could explore the world, they could measure the world accurately, they had precise astronomy, they could create beautiful maps that were accurate in terms of latitude and longitude. That kind of level of civilization.”
In late 2022, Hancock had a TV series entitled Ancient Apocalypse transmitted on Netflix. It was, of course, joyously greeted by his fans, but received more muted reviews in other quarters(ad). Not unexpectedly Jason Colavito(af) and Thorwald C. Franke (Newsletter 206)(ae). Murdoch’s The Sun tabloids offered a voice(ac) for the cries of protest from academics. It appears that the series has been used as a multi-episode aggressive rant against conventional archaeology. Perhaps it was just the ayahuasca speaking.
In response, this week (Dec.2, 2022), the Society for American Archaeology published an open letter(ah) to Netflix and the television production house ITN requesting that they re-classify its new series Ancient Apocalypse as a work of fiction rather than a docuseries(ag). Eventually, Hancock responded with a lengthy article(al) described by Jason Colavito as ‘hysterical’(am), but in my view, it contains many interesting points.
The uproar over the Hancock-Netflix series continues unabated with Colavito offering the following addition to his website(ai) and a longer piece on The New Republic website(aj); “It has also sparked unparalleled outrage from archaeologists and journalists, resulting in dozens of think pieces decrying the show’s many false claims and illogical arguments, analyzing its racist implications, and declaring the series everything from “fishy” to the “most dangerous” show on Netflix. “Why has this been allowed?” asked Britain’s The Guardian. The answer to that seemed pretty obvious: Hancock’s son, Sean Hancock, is Netflix’s senior manager for unscripted originals.”
The Guardian newspaper (UK) took another perceived aspect of the series to accuse “Hancock – who describes himself as a journalist presumably to avoid being called a pseudo-scientist” – of taking “the story to a new controversial level in suggesting that survivors of such a deluge were the instigators of the great works of other civilisations, from Egypt to Mexico and Turkey to Indonesia. As (Flint) Dibble states, such claims reinforce white supremacist ideas. ‘They strip indigenous people of their rich heritage and instead give credit to aliens or white people.’ In short, the series promotes ideas of ‘race science’ that are outdated and long since debunked.”(ak).
On April 2023, Jason Colavito reported(an) “In a surprise move, Graham Hancock pulled out of June’s Cosmic Summit, a meeting of catastrophists in support of the theory that a comet hit the Earth at the end of the last Ice Age and destroyed a high-tech lost civilization. Atlantis speculator Jimmy Corsetti, who was also scheduled to speak, also said he would not be attending. Corsetti claimed he had been ‘removed’ against his will from the list of speakers, leaving the conference in chaos.” There is some suggestion that problems arose over a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Hancock offered the following explanation on his website(ao) “Serious concerns have been brought to my attention that has caused me to lose confidence in the fundamental philosophy and direction of this conference.”
In June 2023, Michael Shermer published an article in Skeptic magazine that attacked Hancock’s theories generally and the 2022 Netflix series in particular(ap).
The Netflix episode dealing with the Maltese megaliths has drawn criticism from archaeologists in Malta, one of whom appeared briefly in the episode and later implied that her appearance was “manipulated to suit the narrative that the series is trying to push.” (aq)
(o) Archive 2904
(al) Response by Graham Hancock (GH) to the open letter to Netflix dated 30th November 2022 from the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) concerning the eight-part docuseries Ancient Apocalypse presented by Graham Hancock – Graham Hancock Official Website
(ap) Skeptic » Reading Room » Alternative Civilization and Its Discontents: An Analysis of the Alternative Archaeologist Graham Hancock’s Claim That an Ancient Apocalypse Erased the Lost Civilization of Atlantis
Thorwald C. Franke was born in 1971 in Konstanz in southwest Germany. He studied computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and now works as a software developer. Since 1999 he has been promoting the idea of Atlantis having been located in Sicily. He has written a paper, which makes the case for identifying Atlas with king Italos of the Sicels, who was one of the first tribes to inhabit Sicily and gave their name to the island.
In October 2010, Franke announced that a part of his theory has some elements in it that require further research(f).
He believes that the war with the Atlanteans was recorded by the Egyptians as the conflict with the Sea Peoples of whom the Sicilians are generally accepted to have been part.
Franke has a well-presented website(a), in English and German, where he cogently outlines his views. He has also written a lengthy, 23-page paper on the need for a classification of Atlantis theories. Even though this item is in German, English readers may find it quite interesting using their browser’s translator. Franke has also compiled an extensive list of Atlantis-related websites(d) that he expanded further in a new format in October 2011.
His paper for the 2nd Atlantis Conference in Athens in 2008 is available on the Internet(c) in which he expanded on his Sicilian location for Atlantis.
Franke has also published a book, in German that focussed on Herodotus’ contribution to the Atlantis question(p). In the same paper, he dealt with the true meaning of the word ‘meizon‘ in Timaeus 24e which tells us that Atlantis was ‘greater’ than Asia and Libya combined, which he clarified as actually referring to their combined power rather than size. However, Franke proposed that the Egyptian word ‘wr’, whose primary meaning is ‘big’ and is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense, may have influenced the wording of the Greek text
Then in a more recent (2010) book regarding Aristotle and Atlantis, he disputes the generally perceived view that Aristotle did not accept the existence of Atlantis. He builds his case on an 1816 misinterpretation by a French mathematician, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, of a 1587 commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon. Combined with other evidence he has presented a case that removes the only prominent classical writer alleged to have dismissed the existence of Atlantis. In late 2012 Franke published an English translation with the title of Aristotle and Atlantis. Franke’s views regarding Aristotle have been well received and his book is frequently cited, most recently by Dhani Irwanto in his Atlantis: The Lost City is in the Java Sea[1093.110].
Franke has now augmented his book on Aristotle with a YouTube video in English(l) and German(m). This important book can now be read on the Researchgate website.(ae)
2012 also saw the publication, by Franke, of the first English translation of Gunnar Rudberg’s 1917 monograph Atlantis och Syrakusai, now Atlantis and Syracuse. This is a welcome addition to Atlantis literature in English. Students of the Atlantis mystery owe a debt of gratitude to Herr Franke.
In 2006, Franke published a paper outlining Wilhelm Brandenstein’s contribution to Atlantology which in 2013 he published in English(g). This was followed by a translation(h) of his overview of the work of Massimo Pallattino, who had adopted some of Brandenstein’s approaches to the Atlantis question.
On the 30th of May 2013, Franke announced(i) that his Atlantis Newsletter, which until now was only available in German, in future will also be published in English. Today he discusses the antics of extremist Atlantis sceptics and the abuse of Wikipedia. I encourage everyone to register and congratulate Thorwald on this development.
There is also a video clip available of Franke showing his library of Atlantis-related books(e). 2017 has seen Franke produce a number of 30-minute videos, which readers will find informative. They are available in both German and English, (Just Google Plato’s Atlantis – Thorwald C. Franke – YouTube).
Franke has now (July 2013) revamped his website (https://www.atlantis-scout.de/)
More recently, July 2016 saw the publication, in German, of Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis). This tome of nearly 600 pages will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to any serious researcher’s library. There is a promotional video, in German, to go with it(j). Hopefully, an English translation of the book will follow. However, Franke does provide an English summary of the book(af). In June 2021, Franke announced the publication of the second edition of this remarkable book, but again, in German only. It is now in two volumes, totalling over 800 pages, which include hundreds of new references(y). Two publications in one week is a record to be proud of.
In June 2018, Franke published a YouTube video in English(r) and German(s) highlighting how Plato’s 9,000 years have been alternatively accepted and then rejected many times over since the time of Plato. Franke proposes that the 9,000 years recorded by Plato were comparable with the accepted age of Egypt in his day, at 11,00 years. However, archaeology has demonstrated that Egypt was only 3,000 years old or less when Plato was alive, suggesting that the 9,000 should be reduced by a comparable amount to arrive at the real-time of Atlantis.
In his Newsletter No.90, Franke has highlighted that a small German right-wing group, ‘Pro Deutschland’, has cited on their website the ‘superior civilisation’ of Atlantis in support of their extremist views.
Franke’s Newsletter No. 103 has now provided us with five parallel versions of the Atlantis texts(n), Two English; Jowett & Bury and Two German; Susemihl & Müller as well as a Greek text from the Scottish classicist John Burnet (1863 – 1928).
Franke’s Newsletter No.104 offers an overview of the difficulties involved in accepting Plato’s writings too literally(o). He gives particular attention to the 9,000 years claimed to have elapsed between the Atlantean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt.
Franke has now published two new videos(t), in both German and English, in which he reviews a number of Atlantis-related books, both supportive and sceptical. He does so in his usual balanced manner and also exhorts students of Atlantology to learn German to have access to important works only available in that language.
The difficulty of independent researchers getting their work published in academic journals was highlighted by Franke some time ago(a). However, he has had some academic recognition(a) and has modified his view on the function of the academic press vis-á-vis independent writers(a).
In June 2021, Franke announced the publication of his latest book(x). Platonische Mythen (Platonic Myths), currently in German only. In May 2022 a favourable review, also in German, of Franke’s book was published on the atlantisforschung.de website(ag). I have archived an English translation in atlantipedia.ie(ah).
The following month, Franke published Newsletter No.175 in which he accuses the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) of scientific bias and inconsistency(z). The full Newsletter should be read but in particular his conclusions below.
“Let us sum up what we have: BMCR claims to accept no self-published books, but it did review such a book [mine-AO’C]. BMCR claims that it accepts only peer-reviewed books, but besides the question, of what this exactly means, they do indeed review books that were not peer-reviewed. BMCR claims to accept translations but did not accept the translation of Gunnar Rudberg [Franke’s]. BMCR claims to review bad Atlantis books of a certain intelligence in order to debunk them, but at the same time, they avoided a review of a bad book by an Atlantis sceptical Oxford scholar. They claim to treat every author with respect but failed to do so in my case, and not only once. And the same scholar who admits that his scientific view was impacted (!) by one of my books writes BMCR reviews about other Atlantis books, but my books are not reviewed. Long story short: BMCR acts in an arbitrary way and damages its credibility. They screwed up everything that can be screwed up. And it was not me who lead them up the garden path. They did that all by themselves.”
In Franke’s Newsletter No.158 published in early 2021, he reviewed a lecture, previously unknown to him, given by Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, in Bologna, a few years ago(aa) during which he apparently misrepresented Franke’s Atlantis theories. Shortly afterward Nesselrath issued a rather intemperate reply to Franke’s criticisms.(ab) A further document(ac) from Franke detailed his continuing annoyance with what he perceives as ‘a breach of trust’ on the part of Nesselrath. Now in August 2021, Nesselrath has reignited matters again with a further assault on Franke’s views(ad), many of which I share. In a further postscript dated 20.08.21(ab) Franke fired off a few more salvos. I think it’s time for an armistice?
However, in April 2023, Franke issued his Newsletter No. 212(ao), with the following introduction;
“Professor Heinz-Günther Nesselrath has once again written and published two PDF articles(ak)(al) to defend his Atlantis scepticism against the arguments brought up by me. One is directed against my internet article “The Dark Side of Atlantis Scepticism” from 2021, based on my book about the reception history of Plato’s Atlantis story from 2016/2021. The other one makes the attempt to undermine especially the literary arguments of Wilhelm Brandenstein, which I cultivated and will cultivate even more in my next publication.”
Franke responded with two papers(am)(an) that should be read in their entirety.
Franke’s Newsletter #193 reviews an interview with sceptic Flint Dibble(ai). He followed that in July 2022 (#194) with a critique of an article ‘Not Exactly Atlantis’ by Professor Carolina López-Ruiz that Franke identifies as over-dependent on the arguments of promoters of the ‘invention hypothesis’ particularly those of Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Diskin Clay. Franke then proceeded to offer a list of her many errors(aj).
(l) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)
(m) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)
(aa) Review of: Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, News from Atlantis? 2017. (atlantis-scout.de) (See first half)
(ab) Review of: Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, News from Atlantis? 2017. (atlantis-scout.de) (See last half)
Stelios (Stel) Grant Pavlou (1970- ) is a British writer of Cypriot extraction, who developed a website (a) devoted to Atlantis and other lost cities, as well as a section on comparative mythology. The site is well presented but unfortunately, it has not been updated since April 2011 until it was resuscitated in late 2013, but due to family illness had to go offline again. In late 2015, he announced that he will be resuming his posting soon. However, this did not come to pass and he finally closed down his website, which was a distinct loss to students of Atlantology.
Pavlou has also written an interesting, if somewhat convoluted, paper(a) on Manetho’s Egyptian King List compared with Conventional Egyptian Chronology and is its relevance to the dating of Atlantis. This forensic study led him to conclude that Plato’s 9,000 years were, in reality, only 3,942 years, placing the time of Atlantis somewhere in or around 4532 BC.
Although Pavlou has closed his Atlantipedia.com website, his interest in Atlantis has not diminished. He along with geologist Jess Phoenix was due to appear in a new documentary series about Atlantis, with Morgan Freeman as executive producer, in June 2021(c), which promised ‘new evidence’. Various ancient sites will be investigated, including Pavlou’s yet-to-be-revealed location, as well as his somewhat controversial dating claims. However, shortly before the broadcast date, the series was unexpectedly delayed until late July. Jason Colavito informs us(d) that “Discovery pulled all references to the program from its website, and Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment does not list the show among its projects..“ Speculation has also suggested that the cancellation may be a consequence of the recent merger of Discovery and Warner Bros!
Colavito has revealed that Hunting Atlantis had been cancelled because it “generated controversy online after critics (Colavito included) pointed out that the Atlantis myth has long been used in support of colonialist, imperialist, and racist narrative, including the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Anglo-American expansionist colonialism the Age of Empires, and Nazi searchers for the Aryan homeland” and “But the optics of glorifying a narrative long used to support white supremacy also didn’t look great the same week that competing channels were honoring the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.”(e)
Thorwald C. Franke quickly pointed out how historically incorrect Colavito’s comments are. Plato has not been used as a support for racism, but, not mentioned by Colavito, is the fact that the Bible has given more succour to racism than any other document. Does Colavito call for the closing of churches?
Am I now to be labelled racist because I write or broadcast matters relating to Atlantis? I’m surprised that Discovery allowed themselves to be bullied by Colavito & Co and ignored the provisions of their nation’s First Constitutional Amendment.
Anyway, after all this excitement Episode 1 was aired in the US on July 21st 2021. Jason Colavito, a prominent atlantiphobe, produced his review(f) within a day. He begins by trying to undermine the credibility of the presenters during which he states that Pavlou ‘operates Atlantipedia,‘ which is factually incorrect. Pavlou did run the excellent Atlantipedia.com website some years ago and has no connection with this site Atlantipedia.ie. He proceeds to attack the entire story of Atlantis during which he claims that Plato wrote that the Atlanteans “came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean”. This is also wrong, as it is a flawed translation by Jowett. The original text says ‘Atlantic Sea’. The word ‘ocean‘, which had a specific meaning for the Greeks was never used by Plato concerning Atlantis.
To be clear, I do not agree with Pavlou’s location or date for Atlantis and I have not seen the first episode, its production value would appear to have been below par according to Colavito’s concluding paragraph below –
“Hunting Atlantis is one of the worst, most incoherent, poorly written, and badly produced pseudohistory documentaries in its genre. Alan Landsburg of In Search Of… would roll in his grave to see the travesty of a show that doesn’t stop long enough even to tell the audience what the hell it’s talking about. It’s TV made by people who only know of TV from YouTube reaction videos and TikTok reviews.”
Pavlou places the destruction of Atlantis at the beginning of the 5th millennium BC and most surprising, in an article by Candida Moss, he has declared himself to be ‘agnostic’ regarding Atlantis(g). Moss reports how archaeologist Dr Flint Dibble undertook a study of Pavlou’s paper used as background for Hunting Atlantis and not unexpectedly debunked it. There appears to have been an explosion of comments on social media, some with apparent racist undertones.
Thorwald C Franke commenting on Dibble’s Twitter critique has accused him of wanting to have Atlantis “to be closely linked to racism”(h).>After all six episodes were broadcast in Germany Franke posted a fairly positive review of the series in his Newsletter No. 189(i).<
Pavlou is the author of Decipher, a bestselling speculative novel centred on the tale of Atlantis and is also well-known as a screenwriter (e.g. 51st State).
Pavlou now lives with his family in Colorado, USA.
(a) https://atlantipedia.com/ [Not to be confused with this site] (offline Jan. 2017)
(h) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm (See Newsletter 182)