Ancient Apocalypse review – Hancock’s pseudo-archeology given a platform

By Nicole Ackman
Published: November 12, 2022 (Last updated: March 9, 2023)
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This series, unfortunately, gives a platform to Graham Hancock’s pseudo-archeology, which is more speculative than factual. Its redeeming grace is the impressive cinematography.

We review the Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

From the first episode of Ancient Apocalypse, host Graham Hancock sets off alarm bells with his frequent mean-spirited jabs towards historians, archeologists, and scientists. The British journalist and pseudo-archeologist has a strong disdain for professionals in the field that he has worked in over the past thirty years, even publishing twelve books. Once you hear his theories about ancient history, it becomes clear why.

Ancient Apocalypse is split into eight roughly half-hour-long episodes, over the course of which Hancock explains his theory about ancient civilizations. He believes that there was an advanced culture that existed before known civilizations that fed into ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica, during the period that historians believe all people were hunter-gatherers. Over the course of the docuseries, he travels across the globe from Turkey to Malta to Indonesia to the Bahamas to attempt to prove his points and find where this “lost civilization” may have been based.

READ: Will there be a season 2 of Ancient Apocalypse?

While Hancock often makes his ideas sound very authoritative and factual, they are almost entirely conjecture. Even he acknowledges at points how speculative his thoughts are and how little he’s able to actually prove. Truly, it feels like the kind of faux history that you normally would find playing late at night on the History Channel or Discovery, in between programs on Hitler and aliens. And nothing hurts someone’s credibility in most circles than Joe Rogan appearing as a source in your docuseries. Some episodes are more convincing than others, but his entire premise stands on shaky ground academically.

Fingerprints of the Gods, Hancock’s most successful book, essentially promotes an idea that actually began with 19th-century racist colonizers. The idea that one (presumably white) race was responsible for all the world’s great ancient civilizations undermines the abilities of non-Europeans and has links to white supremacy. (This Twitter thread had more information on the dangers of this line of thought.) In fact, one wonders why Netflix would give a man like Hancock a platform for his anti-intellectual, pseudo-scientific ideas. Perhaps, it’s because his son Sean Hancock happens to be the head of “unscripted originals” at the company.

The television series is well-produced, with good editing and graphics that help bring everything together. However, the true redeeming part of Ancient Apocalypse that makes it watchable is its cinematography. We have cinematographer Will Fewkes to thank for the beautiful shots of the varied locations that Hancock visits. It’s amazing to see these ancient sites up close. If you’re interested in ancient architecture, the series is worth watching just to see the fantastic shots they got across the world. However, be sure to take anything that Hancock says with a grain of salt – or perhaps an entire barrel.

What did you think of Ancient Apocalypse? Comment below.

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