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4.3 out of 5 stars
Fingerprints of the Gods
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2000
The author of this book makes two main mistakes:
1. He starts with a conclusion. In a violation of the scientific method, Mr. Hancock begins at the end; at the start of his work he has already decided that the Earth was home to a civilized people (from Atlantis?) millenia before current data suggests. He then distorts evidence to "prove" this thesis in much the same manner that Creationists distort data to prove their absurdities; by only allowing for one explanation for any apparent anomaly.
2. Ethnocentrism and out-dated Anthropology. Hancock's work is also tainted by his acceptance of a cultural fallacy: That civilized life is the easiest, most "advanced" form of human social existance, and that it is a goal that all humans work toward, adopted by food-foragers as soon as they are given the oppurtunity. However this concept of unilineal evolution has been disproven over and over again, starting with Marshall Sahlins' 1972 book "Stone Age Economics." This puts the lie to phrases used by Hancock such as "golden age of agricultural plenty" and reveals the real (but perhaps unconscious) purpose behind the book as an attempt to explain why, since civilization and intensive agriculture are so wonderful, fully modern humans existed without them for 100,000 years.
Despite these very serious flaws the book does raise some very interesting points, such as the apparent evidence of water-erosion on the Sphynx, and (most interesting) the apparently ancient map detailing an ice-free Anartica. Unfortunately, the serious problems detailed before cast a shadow over the credibility of the entire work, which makes me much less able to readily accept these enigmas, which would be very intriguing in a different context. However they are enough, combined with Fingerprints of the Gods well-written and very readable presentation, to lead me to give this book 2 stars instead of one. Readers are advised to take everything Hancock says with a very big grain of salt.
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44 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Dear reader: before you see my low rating and immediately decide to give me an 'unhelpful' review, please consider the following. I am not hostile to the author's thesis, and I am inclined, in fact, to believe that there very well _could_ be a technologically advanced Atlantean civilization that existed prior to our own.

Let it be known that I tend to trust scientists and spiritual writers within their own contexts. (A few writers _can_ successfully bridge these two gaps, but they are not the norm.) As a general rule, scientific types, who only know how to deal with the minutiae of quantity, are best left writing about scientific ideas in their own particular niche or subspecialty. They almost always fail when attempting to extrapolate their findings onto the larger realm of human discourse. Likewise, those of a spiritual bent are best when discussing spiritual matters; at this point, I don't think we need any more people discussing how particle physics proves the existence of God, clarivoyance, or ESP when they have little or no idea what they are talking about. Those possessing true spiritual enlightenment always mitigate against ascribing too much literalism to their allegories. Anthropomorphic or archetypal elements in spiritual writing should be used to convey universal spiritual _principles_, not taken literally.

Now, who I don't trust are hack writers who take a jumbled pile of assorted geologic, archaeological, and spiritual 'facts' and throw them all in a pot to create a Procrustean stew that serves no purpose other than to satisfy their own sensationalist theses. (But hey, how else are you going to get your own series of BBC specials?) Hancock manages to enter the realm of elite pseudoscholars such as Sitchin, Von Daniken, etc. by proceeding as follows: first, proceed with an outlandish thesis that you take for granted as 'true'. Then, proceed to take any available 'evidence' and twist it to support said thesis. If a perceived 'fact' should perhaps be interpreted in a more Jungian, archetypal, or manner appropriate to the mythology of a region, treat it as a literal fact. But in the case of hard science, be sure to interpret it in as creative a manner as possible. After all, (per Hancock's own admission on his web site!) he's not saying whether or not his thesis IS true, he's just raising a possibility. That's all fine and dandy, but Aldous Huxley raised a lot of possibilities with _Brave New World_, and that book is still powerful today because it is a powerful piece of _fiction_.

Hancock loves employing cognates (words that sound alike and have a similar meaning in disparate languages) to support his thesis which have been a favorite of pseudoscholars for at least a hundred years, and have been employed to 'prove' dodgy theories such as the British-Israelite theory. However, any linguist can tell you that completely unrelated languages will often contain similar or identical words, especially for common subjects. For example, 'dog' means the same thing in English as it does in Australian Aboriginal languages, yet the two languages are in no way related; likewise, 'mahni' and 'many' mean the same thing in Korean and English, yet the two are in no way related. Statistically, large numbers of words will always be false cognates between languages.

Hancock also likes to take symbolism which is much more at home in a Jungian or similar such allegorical context and treat it as evidence of some literal truth. One of his favorite subjects is how the notion of water (or a flood) is contained in a wide variety of different myths and legends. However, does this point to the literal, materialistic fact that there was a giant flood that engulfed humanity, or is it just that water is processed in a similar archetypal manner on a near-universal basis?

Nevertheless, these errors could very well just be inevitable given a 'true believer' lacking in the critical thinking department. What I find to be most alarming, however, is how Hancock deliberately misrepresents geological science. The fact that the Earth could undergo certain changes over the course of millennia somehow gets twisted into evidence that a certain 'disaster' could happen almost instantaneously. To me, this error is so great that I cannot believe that Hancock actually read the article he is referencing, especially since it is so central to his thesis. And when I see something misrepresented so badly, I cannot help but automatically question the veracity of most of his other 'sources', as well as his overall motives.

There is some compelling evidence out there that ancient peoples possessed knowledge in certain areas that far surpasses what conventional scholarship would have us think (cf. Hapgood's 'Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings.') And I wouldn't be surprised if this came from some previously unknown advanced civilization. But for spiritually minded people (I subscribe to Vedic cosmology myself) any knowledge of these facts is going to be contained in spiritual doctrines; any attempt to elucidate on these subjects by working 'upward' from modern reductionist science is doomed to failure. (But if you're going to take this approach, you could at least not misrepresent the authors you are invoking.) For those interested in cosmic cycles and their implications, you would be MUCH better off reading John Major Jenkins' 'Galactic Alignment' or Weidner & Bridges' 'The Mystery of the Great Cross of Hendaye', both of which treat the notion of any potential cataclysm in a much more even-handed manner devoid of Hancock's sensationalism.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 1998
I found Fingerprints of the Gods to be thought-provoking and interesting reading. The main thesis of the book is that prior to about 9000-10000 BC there existed a (currently unkown) advanced civilization (based on the antarctic continent) that was destroyed by cataclysmic events. According to the author, survivors of this lost civilization are responsible to a large extent for the seemingly rapid development and scientific and architectural knowledge of the known, "historic" civilizations. Support for this thesis comes from a large array of sources (e.g., geology, archaeology, mythology, biology, cartography, etc.). Some of the points the author makes are independently supported by other investigators. Unfortunately, the author's main thesis....seems unsubstantiated...The author may in fact be able to account for this disconfirming data but there is little evidence for it in the book. In summary, although I found the book enjoyable (like some fiction) and I agree that there are mysteries of the ancient world that are currently inadequately addressed, the book was not, in my opinion, terribly convincing.
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20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2001
Graham Hancock succeeds in highlighting some curious aspects of ancient civilizations that seem to defy conventional thought on the antiquity of mathematics, astronomy, and architecture. His narrative loses more then it gains, however, because of poor writing and shoddy scholarship. A careful reading of the book, along with its footnotes, will highlight the decidedly unadvanced writing style of the author. It is apparent that Hancock does not know or follow the rules of citing references, as there are many statements of fact that should be cited that are not. Additionally his chapter on the ice ages and the end of the ice ages is filled with factual errors that significantly weaken his theory that ancient North Americans were continually subjected to earthquakes, volcanoes, and catastrophic floods which gave rise to great flood myths. Floods happened on millenial scales, not human scales, as melt water built up behind ice dams, and earthquakes were no more commen then they are today. Hancock goes on to make many more statements in this book that are either incorrect or not buttressed by his footnotes. His use of obsolete references coupled with overuse of a few sources detracts significantly from his work. Overall this book raises interesting notions but is so poorly written and filled with so many misreferenced or not referenced statements, not to mention some blatent factual errors, that it cannot be taken as a serious work of scholarship.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2013
Graham Hancock highlighted some interesting controversies in archaeology in his book Fingerprints of the Gods. He has gathered significant facts in an eclectic manner and presented them as credible evidence for human origins that like a Chinese whisper, doesn't get it quite right. This arises from Hancock's hidden agenda of supporting Vedic claims for a greater antiquity for humans than is the current orthodox wisdom, with his Indian wife Santha Faiia, that is more in line with the views of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Society for Krishna Conciousness. Several books have been published by the A.C. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust quoting Hancock as an authority for their claims on a greater antiquity for humans. Some Vedic scholars claim that humans evolved in India!

Hancock's approach is basically journalistic, who with his photographer wife, explores his interest in hidden mysteries like a tourist when writing little more than a travelogue of descriptive postcards when visiting iconic sites, while speculating wildly on their origins and antiquity with little supporting evidence. Hancock has been accused of undermining orthodox approaches to archaeology in which theories of our origins have been carefully built up over time through the accumulation of scientific evidence using scientific methods. It's certainly true that there is a bias in Western archaeology. British archaeologists, for example, may never admit there was ever an empire as great as the British empire and Cambridge misogynists may never admit our origins were matriarchal. But these attitudes have been challenged within archaeology itself. Hancock has had a few successes by aligning himself with Robert Bauval author of The Orion Mystery. While he makes some interesting insights, especially in astro archaeology, its Hancock's obvious lack of training in archeology that is supremely irritating. A better knowledge of the field itself would allow him to approach the material in a much less speculative and more authorative manner in a way that could be accepted by the scientific community. This lack of background in the discipline places his books in the same category as Eric Von Danikens' Chariots of the Gods; science fiction or fantasy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 1997
Having read "Chariots of the Gods" by von Dainaikenand "Worlds in Collision" by Velikovski, I came into "Fingerprints ofthe Gods" with a certain amount of scepticism. I've seen the shows on The Learning Channel and the evidence for a civilization predating what modern science considers the dawn of civilization seemed compelling. The clearly water-caused damage on the great sphinx, the lack of illustrations on the pyramids at Giza and the aparent inability of Egypt to build such edifices a few decades after their magnificance, the universal and similar myths of catastrophe and the mysterious civilizers from far away. But, the ultimate causality of the demise of this civilization, the Crustal Displacement Theory, seemed a bit over the top. That the entire crust of the earth would shift as much as 30 degrees in a very short geological time, this seemed a bit of a stretch and was lacking in anything more than circumstantial evidence. Couldn't the myths of catrostophe be explained by something other than the entire crust doing a shimmy to the left?

Hancock delt with these issues pretty effectively but the deciding factor, for me, wasn't in his book. It came from a short blurb in Astonomy magazine citing an article in a July issue of Science. In that, scientists at Caltech put forth the idea that 330 million years ago, the crust and mantle of the Earth shifted, en-masse, by as much as 90 degrees over a period of several million years. The devistation and re-construction began the Cambrian revolution, a literal explosion in the variety and advancement of life on this planet. If such a thing had happened then, why could not a similar thing happen 15,000 years ago?

Mr Hancock puts forth his ideas in the manner of a narrative of self-discovery. An effective style. As he learns, explores and develops his theory, we accompany him on this voyage of discovery. His prose does sometimes bog down in speculations beyond his basic premise, such as his penchant for attributing almost magical technology to his pre-historical civilization, but his wonderment at what might have been carries the reader along and opens ones eyes to the possibility. Gladly, he avoids the new fashion of attributing these glories to extreterrestrial intervention. These wonders are solidly within the capabilities of mere homo sapiens, albiet more advanced than we, post-catastrophy ancestors suspected.

I would have liked to see more technical details on the geological evidence, the magnetic records embeded in the rocks, for example, but Mr. Hancock is not a geologist and refers us to Rand and Rose Flem-Ath's "When the Sky Fell" for those explorations. All in all, a good book for the open-minded, willing to explore the possibility the we, as humans, have hidden capabilities we weren't previously aware of, and a rich history deeper than we seem to imagine.

UPDATE: Read the comments. I've changed my rating.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 1998
Hancock's book contains intriguing detail, but I just have to wonder about some of his assertions. The pyramids at Giza are certainly magnificent examples of ancient architecture. But, is the brilliance in their execution an example of extraterrestrial intervention in human events? Hancock provides numerous mathematical relationships to support his theories, but the question is: did the ancient Egyptians think as Hancock does? And, does the evidence which Hancock cites truly prove that ET visited ancient Egypt? Books such as this one serve as an important lesson to inquiring, intelligent minds: Belief can be the deciding factor in the "truth" one manages to see--a condition to which we are all susceptible.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2014
It's a hypothetical book, that uses data mining for information, and very little scientific fact. He also uses scientific principles and manipulates them to fit his agenda. Similar to religious people and their uses of information. Worth 3-4 dollars, not the $9.99 I paid. It's fiction, disguised as non-fiction.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2013
The book itself is great but the condition is poor. the cover is rolling up and some of the pages, while there, are no longer attached to the spine. Not a big deal but it would have been nice to have a copy in a little better condition
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
Fingerprints of the Gods
As usual, Hancock wonderfully introduces the general reader to different ancient subcultures; however, his reliance primarily on works by local alternative historians many of whose views have been clearly refuted by other scientists while ignoring almost anything that refutes his own thesis undercuts his credibility.
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