Archeologists to Netflix: ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ is not a docuseries, it’s fiction

I watched the first two episodes of Ancient Apocalypse on Netflix but in my defense I played a game on my phone at the same time. It had Ancient Aliens energy with the underlying theme of “archeologists hate him!” Graham Hancock is a British journalist who uses anomalies from archeological finds to argue for the existence of Atlantis and claim that civilization is thousands of years older than accepted knowledge. His evidence for this is spurious and repeatedly relies on calling archeologists stubborn and unwilling to accept new evidence. Hancock’s claim to fame is going on the Joe Rogen show, and multiple clips of this are shown as if it’s something to be proud of. He claims that Atlanteans traveled throughout the world after a flood destroyed their civilization and taught advanced concepts to people. It’s all very sensationalized and I regret watching it. According to Wiki, Hancock’s “writings have neither undergone scholarly peer review nor been published in academic journals,” which sounds about right. I found this show because it was highlighted on my TV app so there’s a real push for it and it’s getting watched. As a result, the Society for American Archaeology wrote an open letter asking Netflix to classify Ancient Apocalypse as fiction.

This week, the Society for American Archaeology published an open letter to Netflix and the television production house ITN requesting that they re-classify its new series Ancient Apocalypse as a work of fiction rather than a docuseries.

The show centers around bestselling author Graham Hancock’s meagerly substantiated claims about the existence of Atlantis, presenting them in a deceptive cloak of veracity.

“We urge both Netflix and ITN Productions to add disclaimers to the series that its content is unfounded,” the society wrote. “We also request that Netflix develop a policy that balances such false narratives with the presentation of scientific documentaries and accurate reporting.”

Netflix has not yet addressed to the letter publicly.

Flint Dibble, an archaeology professor at Cardiff University, is also among the growing chorus of experts disputing Hancock’s claims. Ancient Apocalypse became Netflix’s second-most popular title just one week after it dropped, on November 10.

According to Dibble, archaeologists have been aware of Hancock’s work for years—he’s published 16 commercially successful novels on everything from the Ark of the Covenant to Egypt’s sphinxes since 1985. “I wouldn’t say that most archaeologists have read Graham Hancock,” Dibble said. “He ignores all of our evidence.”

Still, Dibble started watching Ancient Apocalypse with an open mind. “My hopes, in many ways, were dashed with the series,” he said. As part of his own studies into pseudo-archaeology, Dibble recently read some of Hancock’s work.

“He’s much more aggressive against archaeologists [in the series] than he is in his writing,” he said. “I was actually kind of shocked and dismayed.”

“Perhaps there’s been a forgotten episode in human history, but perhaps the extremely defensive, arrogant, and patronizing attitude of mainstream academia is stopping us from considering that possibility,” Hancock says in the first episode. “I’m trying to overthrow the paradigm of history.”

Rather than presenting evidence of Atlantis from its existence, Hancock seeks to amend the legacies of existing ancient sites like the columns atop Gunung Padang in Indonesia, attributing them to advanced Atlanteans who survived their society’s purported destruction by comet.

[From Artnet]

If you can’t tell from my intro, Ancient Apocalypse kind of pissed me off whereas I’ve watched Ancient Aliens and have been entertained by the audacity. Apocalypse presents Hancock’s theories as truth. Unlike The Crown, which is sourced and based on real news reports and events, this series does need a prominent disclaimer. People will watch it and think it’s true. Then again, Discovery has run series fooling people into believing mermaids are real and we’ve already talked about Ancient Aliens. I guess we’re holding Netflix to a higher standard, which we should. They have legitimate docuseries as well, but they’re not above this provocative rewriting of history. It sucked me in.

Of course the right wing media loves this because his theories are racist. Indigenous societies couldn’t have built monuments and cities without help from white people.

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28 Responses to “Archeologists to Netflix: ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ is not a docuseries, it’s fiction”

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  1. Brassy Rebel says:

    I hope this doesn’t take over Netflix the way Ancient Aliens took over the History Channel. That and Fat Guys In Pawn Shops ruined it forever.

  2. Becks1 says:

    We watched it. It was entertaining. We started a drinking game where we had to drink every time he said “mainstream” but then had to quickly stop because whew, that was going to get messy REALLY fast lol.

    It’s kind of like Ancient Aliens on steroids. There are NO other sources for anything basically besides Hancock. Sometimes he talks to a park ranger or something but its almost like someone just took their own youtube channel and made it into a Netflix documentary, where they are just talking all the time.

    Also, it just sort of fell flat. Like there are some interesting points in it (like Ancient Aliens), about how some of the theories of timelines for civilizations in some areas don’t match up with the artifacts in that area or the technology etc.

    But then there was all this stuff about Atlantis and……and……I mean I don’t even know. We finished it b/c we were pot committed at that point, you know? Like Atlantis is meant to be his big connecting theory for all this stuff and it just……does not work, even as a kind of out there theory.

    I don’t know if it needs to be labeled as fiction, maybe somewhere in between. maybe source-less nonfiction, lol.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I agree – it fell flat and yeah while some of his theories were interesting there was nothing but him to back it up. He just kept complaining that mainstream wouldn’t research it or take it seriously. Can’t he fund digs with all the money he’s made from his books?

      He’s also not a great presenter or interviewer – my man Giorgio is way better, thou some of the others on Ancient Aliens are not so good. Nick Pope irritates me – he has an over eager puppy energy thats kinda off putting plus he never shuts up about how he worked for MI5.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      “I don’t know if it needs to be labeled as fiction, maybe somewhere in between. maybe source-less nonfiction, lol.”

      It absolutely needs to be labelled as fiction, not only because it was never proved Atlantis existed (it’s classified as myth/legend by all archaeologists) but it’s, as Kaiser said, implicitly racist as it is used as proof that ‘natives’ (guess which ones, those who aren’t white!!) would have not been able to build those marvellous monuments and cities without being helped by a ‘superior’ white civilization. That’s why the guy is invited to far-right channels.

      I’ve a friend who’s an archaeologist and she’s absolutely mad about this!!
      She said that it takes years to archaeologists to correctly inform the public after collecting all the evidence about anything and then a ‘fraud’ like Hancock gets a Netflix series and undoes all the good work it took years to build up.

      • Becks1 says:

        I can completely see what you’re saying about the non-white civilizations being helped by the mythical white civilizations, but my impression from the series was that he was presenting Atlantis as a non-white civilization.

        ( I also did not realize it was about Atlantis until about halfway through LOL.)

  3. Andrea says:

    Watched two episodes last night and was a bit hooked. It is a theory. There are lots of theories out there. Doesn’t make them true.

    The one part I do wonder about is that we do tend to disregard Indigenous narratives and oral traditions because they aren’t “white”. Same goes for why they were forced by colonials for hundreds of years to assimilate or die because of their views, particularly towards women with some tribes were too equal for Europeans. Some women in some tribes had automony to marry and divorce who they wished; if a husband was abusive, he was banned from the tribe for life. If only some of that were in place now, we’d be a far better society.

    • Tim says:

      To be fair, we ignore the oral traditions of ‘white’ people too: Nobody is treating the stories in Norse, Greek, Roman mythology as facts, except where they are backed up by archaeology. The same with Judeo-Christian mythology (except for religious believers, but that’s another thing.)

  4. Nicegirl says:

    I already know of two men (completely unrelated to one another) who are both absolutely convinced by these types of programs. They both believe, emphatically, these lines of thinking. Fearmongering and fiction together seems a dangerous combination when confused and angry men/people think aliens are hiding their spacecraft in volcanoes. I agree with the scientists. Netflix should at least give a disclaimer and provide alternate factual programming as well. 2 🪙

  5. Digital Unicorn says:

    I do love me some Ancient Aliens and I watched this show – both are guilty of jumping to their theory without really presenting in depth proof.

    Whether it’s aliens or Atlantean’s I do think that there is a ‘lost’ history or period of humanity. A lot of history was lost during the various wars when libraries etc.. were destroyed such as the great library of Alexandria.

    • Andrea says:

      I always wondered what was lost from that fire in Alexandria. So much was lost.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      History only starts with the written word.

      Before that, everything is treated either by archaeologists or palaeontologists.

      There’s no ‘lost’ history before the written word was created, there’s only lost archaeological evidence.

      Also, note that history and archaeology fundamentally ‘disagree’ about what’s known too!

  6. Jane says:

    His son is a commissioning editor at Netflix. That’s all that needs to be said about this mess.

  7. ABCD says:

    I don’t understand what is racist about it as he also claims that sites in Malta, Turkey and England where built with the knowledge of an ancient tribe. The claim is simply that its weird that stone age people suddenly went from being nomads to building huge monuments all over the world

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      Yeah but I think he argues mostly white people taught ancient tribes technology so that ancient archaeological sites were built with the knowledge passed down from these supreme ancient white people. Or something like that.

      • BVB says:

        Anthropologist here (forensic and bioarchaeology) this is exactly it. It’s thinly veiled white supremacy.

        There’s a complex systemic reason that we don’t have prehistory figured out yet, and much of it has to do with white supremacy and colonialism and positivism and how it dictated how we learned and reported findings in the past. There’s a huge body of work that is toppling these previous misconceptions or just previous incorrect science through new technologies and critical theory. The mound builder myth/ Atlantis mess is a slippery slope based in anti science and white supremacy. If an old white British man tells you to not believe scientists and scholars because they are “The Man”… be skeptical.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      Those theories are part of white supremacy ideology, it should tell you everything you need to know.

      Furthermore, and more curiously, one of the sites where Atlantis should have been located would be the island of Thera (modern Santorini) and in the 17-century-BC frescoes recovered during excavations, majority of people in it are not white.

      I’d bet this was not mentioned in the Netflix series, he he

  8. Lucy says:

    The normalization of pseudoscience is really disappointing and potentially dangerous. Actual archaeology is so cool. I don’t understand why networks need to focus on pseudoscience in cases where the actual science (and the actual archaeologists) are so interesting. (And anyone who knows actual archaeologists knows that they are often CHARACTERS…)

  9. blairski says:

    A positive review from a “US Source”… the Daily Caller? Hoo boy.

  10. AmelieOriginal says:

    I had never heard of this guy so I went into it with an open mind and the one thing I enjoyed from the series was learning about ancient archaeological sites in the world I had never heard of. I like learning about stuff so learning about all these cool things like the Serpent Mound in Ohio was very interesting.

    But I quickly got bored about how he wouldn’t shut up about how all these places must have been built by a more ancient civilization we knew of and that these civilizations were wiped out during the Ice Age. He would not shut up about these advanced Ice Age civilizations when the truth is humanity was almost wiped out during the last Ice Age. Not sure how advanced we could have gotten during that time with our numbers so low? And when I saw Joe Rogan, it was an immediate “this guy can’t be legit” and after some googling, I realized this guy has no background in archaeology and is banging on about things he has no understanding of.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      “He would not shut up about these advanced Ice Age civilizations when the truth is humanity was almost wiped out during the last Ice Age. ”

      Google the site of ‘Schoningen’ in Germany, it’s an eye-opening opportunity to ‘dig’ into prehistory and fully supported by archaeological evidence.

  11. Mrs. Smith says:

    Same! I went in with an open mind…until I saw that his big celeb endorser was Joe Rogan. That was a huge red flag that put me off entirely.

  12. The Recluse says:

    Time to hold a little block party on Twitter of everyone who’s a fan boy of this yahoo.

  13. ChillinginDC says:

    I found this docuseries to be racist.

  14. BeanieBean says:

    Oh FFS what twaddle. This is not a documentary & calling it a ‘docuseries’ doesn’t make it so. There’ve always been these idiotic racist theories floating around the periphery of archaeology, because these guys just canNOT believe that dark skinned people could possibly have been advanced enough to build/construct/think of… take your pick. It’s insulting to all indigenous peoples, past and present. I am an archaeologist & was working in Georgia during the time some dingbat published some sort of article online saying this archaeological site we had on the Forest was really some sort of vortex entry (can’t remember the specific idiotic theory) and at the same time was really a Mayan ball court (he was mixing his theories, that’s for sure). It really infuriated the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.