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Online Introduction to Underworld
From Fingerprints of the Gods to Underworld

An Essay on Methods
By Graham Hancock

A different approach, not a different position

Fingerprints of the Gods was intended to shake things up.

It did.

And I stand by it.

The book raised many legitimate questions and brought together new arguments and evidence in support of the lost civilisation hypothesis.

But I researched and wrote it between 1991 and 1994 when serious debate on this possibility was rare. Fingerprints was part of a process that stimulated serious debate and as a result the standards of evidence and argument today are much higher than they were in the early 1990's.

Then my top priority was to cram in and get down on the page anything and everything that I thought might weigh in favour of the lost civilisation idea. This was more important to me at that time than taking meticulous care with the quality of every source or being choosy about what leads I followed. I was also too quick to attack weaknesses in the orthodox position while failing to take proper account of orthodox strengths.

The result was that my case for a lost civilisation was anything but bullet-proof ,and Fingerprints has come in for a massive amount of criticism -- some of it richly deserved. Often, for example, I ignored the official carbon dates for sites I was writing about -- just brushed them aside on the grounds that C-14 can't date stone monuments directly -- and got on with finding my own way through all the good (and bad) reasons to doubt the orthodox chronology.

This was a mistake. With the benefit of hindsight I now recognise that I should have taken much fuller account of the C-14 evidence for megalithic sites like Tiahuanaco, and presented it to my readers in sufficient depth and detail before making the case for an alternative chronology. I should have understood that in the long run no attempt to propose much greater antiquity for any archaeological site is likely to thrive unless it can deal with the carbon dates on which the orthodox chronology usually rests.

However, what I'm referring to here is the whole approach that led me to be so cavalier about C-14, not any of the basic questions about the past that I raised in Fingerprints and my other books. I still think, for example, that a great mystery surrounds Tiahuanaco in Bolivia and that it's origins may be much older than we are taught. I'm glad I presented some of the evidence for an older Tiahuanaco in Fingerprints, and in Heaven's Mirror, but I also recognise in retrospect that my case was weak because it failed to deal with the C-14 evidence against an older Tiahuanaco.

Accordingly I've set out with Underworld to write a book of historical dissent that is nevertheless rooted and grounded in accepted archaeological evidence in a way that Fingerprints is not -- and wasn't intended to be. By way of direct comparison, Underworld contains a challenge to the orthodox chronology of Malta's megalithic sites that's just as ambitious as the challenge to Tiahuanaco's antiquity in Fingerprints. The big difference is that in Underworld I thoroughly examine the Maltese C-14 evidence, and indeed the other ingredients of the orthodox chronology, and take full account of these in the case I make.

So there is definitely a change of approach in this new book. But this should not be confused with any fundamental change of attitude on my part towards my previous books - because there has been no such fundamental change. In response to a question on this subject put to me recently on the Message Board of this site I wrote:

I regard all my work as a continuity. Like every other human I make mistakes. Like everyone else I learn from my mistakes, grow in the process, and try not to repeat them in future.

But you would be wrong to imagine because I recognise and am willing to admit to mistakes when I've made them that this means any kind of "retraction" of my previous work..

The central point of Fingerprints, Keeper [of Genesis] and Heaven's Mirror is that there has been a major forgotten episode in human history localised around the end of the Ice Age and that this forgotten episode will likely be proved to have involved the loss of an urban civilisation that was at least advanced enough to have mapped the world. Maybe there was more than one lost civilisation? I've never ruled out that possibility.

After what I've learnt in order to write Underworld I feel a lot closer to proving this central point, not a lot further away.

Another Message Board contributor also asked me what if anything I retracted in my previous books. I replied:

It's not a matter of retracting anything, but a matter of evolving as a person, as a researcher and as a writer. It's also a matter of listening to my critics and trying to find a new approach that takes their reasonable concerns into account. Although not all their concerns are reasonable some of them are. Contrary to appearances I don't disagree with everything they say about me. More often what I disagree with is how they say it.

In a way I'm lucky to have such vigilant critics because it keeps me on my toes.

Because I very much wanted to avoid another battle over old bitterly contested ground, Underworld is not a book about Egypt, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Easter Island or Angkor -- which were primary subject areas in my earlier books.
Geographically the main above-water focus in Underworld is on India, Malta, Japan, China and Taiwan.

There is a section on ancient maps in Fingerprints and there is a major section on ancient maps in Underworld. The work on maps in Underworld is all new, and does not cover any of the ground covered in Fingerprints. Nevertheless the chapters on ancient maps in Underworld strongly support the notion advocated in Fingerprints -- i.e. that the world was mapped at various stages during the meltdown of the Ice Age.

In summary I regard Underworld as a much stronger defence than anything I have previously written of the essential concept of my previous works -- namely that there has been a significant forgotten episode in human history, that the post-glacial cataclysms have something central to do with it, and that civilisation as we know it has far older roots than is presently accepted. At the same time, my objective from the outset has also been to present a very simple and yet completely new idea that's never been explored or worked through before.

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