Location: Crystal Amphitheater
We were taught in school that the Americas were the last of the great landmasses of the Earth to be inhabited by humans. New science has radically changed this picture. Although the general public have not been kept well informed, we now know, from a remarkable find near San Diego in California, that North America was first peopled at least 130,000 years ago – many tens of thousands of years before human settlements became established in Europe and Asia. Yet because of the dominance of the former – and now entirely discredited – theory of the late peopling of the Americas, and of mental blocks associated with that theory, archaeologists continue to focus only on the ‘Old World’ in their search for the origins of civilization and have not considered the revolutionary possibility that those origins might in fact be found in the ‘New World’.
In this special lecture for Contact in the Desert Graham Hancock explores the implications of the archaeological and genetic evidence that is turning our understanding of prehistory upside down and opening the way to a new paradigm of the human past.
• Certain tribes of the Amazon rainforest are closely related to Australian Aborigines. This extraordinary, unexpected and extremely ancient DNA signal is only present in South America and is completely absent in North America and Mesoamerica. It bears witness to something that archaeologists hitherto believed to be impossible – that the technology and skills needed to cross the Pacific Ocean, and successfully resettle a reproductively-viable population, existed during the Ice Age.
• Astonishing similarities exist between the spiritual beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and the spiritual beliefs of the mound-builder cultures of the Mississippi Valley. These deep and detailed similarities point to a shared legacy of sophisticated ideas concerning the mystery of life and death inherited in remote prehistory, in both the ‘Old’ World and the ‘New’, from an advanced predecessor civilization as yet unidentified by archaeologists.
• The ancient inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest possessed advanced scientific knowledge concerning the molecular properties of plants, and created a ‘miracle earth’ – terra preta – still capable of rejuvenating much younger infertile soils when it is added to them today. Jungle clearances in the 21st century, and new scanning technologies such as LIDAR, have revealed that great cities once existed in the Amazon, their populations supported by the immense agricultural productivity of terra preta. Hundreds of gigantic geometrical earthworks have also emerged from the jungle bearing a striking resemblance to the equally grand and mysterious earthworks of Ohio, such as Serpent Mound, and the Newark and High Bank works, and connections to other geometrical and astronomical monuments as far afield as Stonehenge in England and Angkor in Cambodia.
• We now know that a global cataclysm occurred 12,800 years ago. More than 60 scientists, publishing in leading peer-reviewed journals, have identified its cause as a disintegrating comet that crossed the orbit of the earth and bombarded our planet with a ‘swarm’ of fragments, some more than a kilometre in diameter. The new research further indicates that the epicentre of the cataclysm lay in North America – then still in the grip of the Ice Age with much of the northern half of the continent covered in ice a mile deep. An immense flood was unleashed as large sectors of the ice cap were melted by the shock and heat of the impacts. From the Channelled Scablands of the state of Washington, via the gigantic pot-holes lining the Saint Croix River in Minnesota, to the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, a huge swathe of North America was swept clean by this deluge. At the same time global sea-level rose, the Gulf Stream was stopped in its tracks and the world was plunged into a deep-freeze that lasted 1,200 years.
In the turmoil Hancock reveals that an advanced civilization, hitherto the stuff of myth and legend, was lost to history.