Archaeologist braves the Joe Rogan podcast to counter Graham Hancock's nonsense

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Maybe I don’t understand what we mean by “lost” civilizations, but there are absolutely civilizations that we’re seeing only hints of, lost to time. Stuff like Gobleki Tepi still leaves us with loads of unanswered questions; it’s only been in the last few decades that we’ve really understood how urbanized the Americas were before European contact; we’re still getting a grapple on how humans spread through the Americas (and the timeline may imply boats were involved, not land bridges). And that’s before we start trying to grasp what, exactly, was happening through the early days of homo sapiens- I think the one consistent thing we’re discovering is that neolithic societies were far more complex and interconnected than popular belief implies, and we can likely stretch that idea back even farther.

None of this is to justify ancient aliens nonsense, of course. But when it comes to history, prehistory, and paleontology, I find the things we do know cast such fascinating shadows implying the things we don’t.


What little I know about this place absolutely blows my mind.

I am not proud to admit that the first time I heard about it was on “Ancient Aliens” though.


Good on Dr Dibble for entering the den of thieves! Always curious what the “audience largely compris[ed of] males between the ages of 18 and 34 who lean politically conservative” choose to hate and replace the scientific method with - which they deem elitist - and how it stands up to a thoughtful non-gish-galloped discussion.


The real thing is more interesting than re-inventing Atlantis.


There is, of course an undercurrent of colonialism or even racism to a lot of the ancient alien claims. Like Hancock even says, Stonhenge? English, if he knew about Newgrange in Ireland - a site older than the pyramids and home to an exceptional piece of astonomical engineering - he’d probably say that was Irish. but the Pyramids? Inca, Aztec and Olmec civilisation? Nazca? Well those were aliens


He wasn’t Dibbling around!


I find it hard to accept Dr. Dibble’s scientific credibility, merely because of his hat. Graham Hancock seems like a better source. Plus, he’s older.


What a name. Couldn’t really be anything else.
Not quite my favourite though; that’s reserved for the wonderfully named Rostrum Kilgore I met at the Beeb over a decade ago.


I know I have definitely seen ancient alien arguments for Stonehenge, but they’re definitely not as popular as they are for other cultures.


Milo has a great series debunking Graham Hancocks baloney. As well as other pseudo archaeology BS.


See my discussion in the archaeology thread. Based on the comments under the YouTube video of the podcast (I didn’t listen to the podcast itself) I came to the conclusion that this was probably a net positive move for archaeology



What Hancock means is a pre-Ice Age civilisation spanning the world on which all the others are based. I don’t think he believes in ancient aliens, though.

Of course, strangely we don’t have any trace of such an advanced civilisation despite having comparatively lots of traces of the hunter gatherers who lived much more transient and ephemeral lives.


This is why knowing what the question was is important. I am firmly convinced that there are “lost civilizations.” There are likely many ancient civilizations that we know nothing about, and a few are discovered every so often. Were they interstellar travelers? Advanced aliens? No, no they were not. They were folks whose traces have either vanished or have not been turned up yet. Anyway, this is one of my favorite archeology channels debunking Hancock’s BS


open knowledge swimming GIF


That really depends on your definition of “civilisation”. I doubt that there are entire civilisations (i.e. highly developed societies with cities, etc.) that we don’t know about. Every so often cultures we already knew existed surprise us with a level of organisation previously unknown for them (Göbekli Tepe was mentioned several times in this thread already), or we find out that a civilisation was more spread out than we thought (Amazonian lidar mapping), but I don’t think an entire civilisation is still hiding from us somewhere.

(Even in the case of the Lidar findings above, I should say that we already knew these sorts or sites were out there. The technology just made it easier to find them without trekking through the jungle and stumbling upon them and it showed that there were more than expected)


Both are very Pratchettian names.



Oh absolutely. I know where a lot of the evidence is - under the water from when the coastlines were different due to a much lower sea level. Earliest civilizations would have cropped up by the sea and so much of it would have been swallowed up by time and the ocean. We do occasionally find things, but I am positive there is so much we don’t know about and may never know about.

In North America, they literally scraped evidence of the mound builders off the face of the earth. Pre-Columbian civilizations had cities, trade routes that spanned North America, specialized tools, and sophisticated art. We are still pushing back how far back in time we think people were in North America. Unlike in South America where they worked in stone, it was wood, leather, and mounds, so much of it just went back into the earth.


I don’t know, the Amazonian LIDAR findings were the first ones that popped to mind. IANAArcheologist, but I have not seen anything suggesting that these findings were Mayan, Aztec, etc. My read is this represents an antecedent civilization, relationship unknown to the better-known subsequent ones. But your point holds, there is no indication that any civilization sprung in fully realized form from the forehead of Zeus, they all developed gradually from some preceding groups, and where we draw the lines are pretty arbitrary.


IANAPCAA either (not a pre-Columbian American archaeologist), but articles like these seem to agree with me. We already knew these societies existed, just not on that scale.
(Emphasis mine):

Stéphen Rostain, an archaeologist at CNRS, France’s national research agency, began excavating in the Upano Valley nearly 30 years ago. His team focused on two large settlements, called Sangay and Kilamope, and found mounds organized around central plazas, pottery decorated with paint and incised lines, and large jugs holding the remains of the traditional maize beer chicha . Radiocarbon dates showed the Upano sites were occupied from around 500 B.C.E. to between 300 C.E. and 600 C.E. “I knew that we had a lot of mounds, a lot of structures,” Rostain says. “But I didn’t have a complete overview of the region.”


In a way the “it’s aliens!!” folks have been doing pseudoarchaeologist nuts like Hancock a huge favor because he gets to look level-headed by comparison. “I’m not here to tell you it’s aliens, I’m just a common-sense guy who is following the evidence where it leads, and that evidence points to a super-advanced race of ancients (cough cough WHITE PEOPLE) who traveled the world in the wake of an ancient cataclysm to spread their wisdom.”