Friday, February 26, 2010

Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock

On the first day of class, I stated that I never read nonfiction because it’s “boring.”  Andrea challenged me to read in nonfiction for one of my annotations.  I rose to that challenge.  Reading the nonfiction book rotated between torturous and wonderful.  I pushed through the less interesting parts, though, and I’m a big enough person to admit that the end product was not at all boring.

I read Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.  Some readers will already be familiar with the basis of Hancock’s work.  If you’ve seen Stargate, 10,000 BC, or 2012 you’ll recognize the research behind those films.  It’s no coincidence that all were directed by Roland Emmerich.  In truth, that’s why I decided to read this book.  I’m a voracious Stargate fan.

Fingerprints of the Gods presents a view of history that, like the films based on its research, has earned the scorn of traditional archeologists. It point-by-point contradicts the established timeline of human civilization.  As a historian (or at least, someone with a BA in History), I’m trained to scoff at these types of books.  And yet, Hancock’s evidence is so much more comprehensive than traditional archeologists’ that I find myself unable to ignore the research in this book.  In fact, I find myself convinced.

Hancock starts the book by presenting a series of maps.  Despite being drawn circa 1531, they look familiar enough to modern readers.  And that is why Hancock presents them first.  He poses a very simple question.  How does a map drawn in 1531 have an accurate representation of Antarctica when the southern continent was not discovered until 1818?  It is possible Antarctica was not discovered, but rediscovered in 1818?  From there, Hancock examines myths, histories, and architectures from across the ancient world.  The most compelling portions of the book are the astronomic, geologic, and anthropologic evidence that suggests a global, technologically advanced civilization has been lost to history.

Historians generally accept that monuments such as the pyramids in Mexico and Egypt were built to align with the stars.  Hancock points out that in all cases, the alignments do not match the modern sky, but would have done so perfectly circa 10,450 BC when human civilization was supposed to have been primitive.  Geologists have unanimously agreed that the evidence suggests water damage was done to the Great Sphinx at Giza, but Giza last flooded during the most recent Ice Age, meaning that its attribution to the Fourth Dynasty must be incorrect.

Equally thought-provoking as the scientific evidence is the anthropologic arguments Hancock makes.  There is no evidence of early cultural evolution in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, or the Americas.  These ancient civilizations seem to have sprung out of the ground fully ready to build the Great Pyramids and Chichen Itza.  This confounds all social science theories.  Furthermore, in what logical world could the ancient Americans calculate an accurate solar calendar, but lack the science to invent the wheel?

And these are only a few of Hancock’s compelling arguments.

There were places where the science was over my head.  Much as I loved my Astronomy and Geology courses, they were only introductory classes.   The photographs and diagrams help to visually explain, and Hancock does a diligent job writing out all the mathematical calculations for the readers who have not studied Trigonometry or Geometry.  This book is fifteen years old, and so some parts do seem slightly dated, but only in the sense that some astronomical events Hancock calls ‘future’ have already taken place.

Fingerprints of the Gods raises more questions than it answers, but I’m comfortable with that.  I read to be challenged by ideas, not to be bludgeoned with facts.  Furthermore, my mind has always been open to new theories.  It was no great leap of faith for me to accept that there is more to our history than what we know.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys “secret histories” or Roland Emmerich’s films.  I also think it would make excellent reading for patrons who are willing (or eager) to challenge traditional academia.

Book Information:
Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.
Three Rivers Press, 1996. 592 pages.


  1. Yeah You! Let's always challenge authority -whether is is the academy, religion, corporations, scientists, or your professors. Would you recommend one chapter in this book over the others - that addresses the subjectivity and lack of absolute truth in scientific research/understanding. I am thinking this is something I would assign for S506. Thanks.

  2. I really liked Chapter 3 "Fingerprints of a Lost Science" but I don't think it would make sense without reading Chapters 1 and 2 as well. All three chapters together are 32 pages.

    If you want just one stand alone chapter, I would recommend Chapter 47 "Sphinx" or Chapter 48 "Earth Measurers." I'd say that "Sphinx" is the easier chapter to understand for the casual reader who isn't well versed in hard sciences.