Don’t bother with Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse: debunking the racism of Graham Hancock’s theories

By Mason Berlinka

Updated Apr 4, 2023 at 11:37 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

If you’ve ever found yourself idly scrolling through Netflix in search of something to put on, you may have come across a new series called Ancient Apocalypse. Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you however, this one is not worth your time. Starring conspiracy theorist and Joe Rogan regular Graham Hancock, the series follows a historic hypothesis of an ancient world-ruling civilisation that was wiped out in an apocalypse pre-ice age.

What this show unfortunately embodies is a racist line of thinking which perpetuates the idea that ancient civilisations like the Mesopotamians, Indus Valley natives or the Egyptians could simply have not achieved what they did without the assistance of external forces or some form of higher being. These theories go hand in hand with History Channel’s notorious show Ancient Aliens, which began in 2009 and has repeatedly claimed that extraterrestrial input must have played a role in the creation of the pyramids, for example.

Thankfully, the internet is here to save the day and debunk these highly racist theories regarding Indus Valley civilisations and the building of the Old Kingdom Egyptian pyramids, which, unsurprisingly, have links to Nazism.

These internet spooks, long discredited by professionals, tend to focus on the Great Pyramid of Giza and the fact that the stones were simply too big for the ancient Egyptians to move on their own. This hypothesis was further pushed into the limelight in 2020 when Twitter fanatic Elon Musk tweeted out in support of the alien theory. Oh Elon, why must you do these things?

Vice spoke to Egyptologist Dr Nicky Nielsen on the matter, who said that there is tremendous amounts of evidence proving the Egyptians were in fact responsible for their pyramids, as seen via excavated quarries, diaries and tools. As to how they got the stones up the mountain, Nielsen stated that it was simply “pulleys.” Who’d have thought?

The expert went on to say that “they could pull very heavy blocks up a very steep gradient using pulleys and a ramp. The actual ramp that’s preserved is very steep, I think it’s something like 16 degrees.”

So, with that debunked, it’s time to delve deeper into why the internet is so obsessed with secret ancient civilisations, and indeed, the origins behind them and their activities. Dr Nielsen reminds us that these theories are designed to remove “agency from indigenous cultures” and “take their ownership of their own history away from them.”

“Arabic writing from the time pretty unanimously says it was the Egyptians, but nobody bothered to check for a long time,” the egyptologist concluded.

The routes back to Nazism are reflected in well-known Nazi distaste for egyptology. In the 1930s, a chief archeologist was known to despise the sculptures and busts of Pharaohs as it contradicted Nazi ideals of the superior race.

This is why Hancock’s documentary is so problematic—it directly platforms unfounded and poorly researched theories that detract from entire civilisations’ achievements. Ancient Apocalypse was thankfully torn to shreds by YouTuber Milo Rossi, in an engaging video essay on why so many of the featured theories are bogus.

The series has Hancock searching everywhere for an answer to his hypothesis of a hidden, advanced civilisation that bestowed the gifts of agriculture and mathematics to the Neolithic man. In the first episode, the pretend journalist turns to the megalithic site of Gunung Padang in Indonesia. Heavy stones and mysterious chambers are used to support the theory that there must have been a second party involved.

Rossi suggests a far more likely and less insane theory than Hancock’s notions, noting that these chambers are actually the remnants of a lost city used to teach the ancient Indonesians. The mysterious chambers have a much higher chance of being lava tubes, left behind from the days of Gunung Padang’s life as a volcano.

And as for the stones, they are actually lighter than those used to build the pyramids in Giza, and we already know that that was a feat well capable by man. Rossi’s whole takedown is very gratifying to see and really puts the ludicrous series in its place.

Racist conspiracy theorists will look anywhere for an answer that diverts success or legacy away from the world’s ethnic and native ancestors. If you’re interested in understanding the truth of history, I’d stay far away from Netflix’s new pseudohistory hit.

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