the ‘Horizon-Atlantis’ controversy continued …

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Prehistory ‘paradigm-shift’ Debate


every expert there’s an equal and opposite expert”

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On Thursday

November 4th 1999 the BBC broadcast the second part of their controversial

“Horizon” programme about Atlantis.

Amongst those interviewed for the programme were:

  • Graham Hancock, author

  • Robert Bauval, author

  • Dr. Ken Feder,

    Archæologist, Central Connecticut State University, USA

  • Prof. Colin

    Renfrew, Archæologist, Cambridge University, England

  • Dr Robert M. Schoch , Geologist, Boston University, USA

  • Dr. Edwin Krupp,

    Astronomer, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA

We decided to

quote from the first several minutes of episode two of the “Horizon”

Atlantis programmes because the content sums up the positions of both sides

of the often heated debate about prehistory that has been building up in the

past few decades. It is a debate which gets hotter each time something new is

discovered that orthodox archæologists are either unwilling or unable to plausibly



full transcripts of both programmes are available from the BBC’s

“Horizon” website, and comments from viewers disgusted with the programmes

in the form they were edited and broadcast can be found at


Hancock’s website. The site also includes the full contents of

Hancock’s and

Bauval’s letters of complaint to the BBC following the broadcast.

The programme

began with the narrator announcing :

“Graham Hancock

is determined to re-write history. His books about the ancient past have

sold in their millions, making him a leading figure in a group of influential

and radical authors. Hancock has a huge following who believe passionately

in his controversial views that civilisation was invented by a God-like

people ignored by orthodox historians.”


“It’s possible we may have lost from the record

an entire civilisation and I feel that the evidence for this lost episode

in human history is mounting.”


“Hancock’s theory is a challenge to orthodox


Throughout the

programmes the pyramids at Giza, Egypt, were the starting and ending points

of almost every aspect of the issues raised, and the programme-makers often

cut back to these pyramids even when discussing monuments at other locations

around the world.


“For over a century archaeologists have been

investigating the origins of civilisation. Now they believe they’ve uncovered

the true story of the past. According to this orthodox view, Stone-Age

peoples slowly evolved complex cultures at different times and in different

parts of the world. 13,000 years ago groups of hunter/gatherers began

to settle and to farm. Over many thousands of years they developed writing,

religions and astronomy. Eventually they built the great monuments of

the Ancient World. But not everyone was satisfied with the archaeologists’s


For them

there was a tantalising mystery. Ancient people in far-flung parts of

the world, who seem to have had no contact with each other, were doing

very similar things – building pyramids and studying the stars. How could

these puzzling resemblances be explained? One explanation for the puzzle

was a fabulous and enduring myth about the past – Atlantis.

The story

goes that Atlantis was the home of an ancient civilisation of astonishing

sophistication. When it was destroyed in a flood, it’s survivors travelled

the world bringing the gift of civilisation to less developed peoples.

If Atlantis was the cradle of all other civilisations, as many believed,

then there’s no longer a mystery about all those strange resemblances.

But the idea of Atlantis was scorned by historians.”

Enter Dr. Ken

Feder, an archæologist at the Central Connecticut State University, USA :

“If Atlantis were true, if there was one source, it would be very easy

to test archaeologically and the evidence would be clear. The fact that

it’s not clear, the fact that that kind of evidence is not present is

indicative of the fact that the cultures developed independently and were

not derived from a single source.”


“Graham Hancock believes that the idea of Atlantis

deserves a second chance. He does not claim to be a scientist, but he

has used science to revive an old idea. Ten years ago Hancock set out

on a quest. He came back with a radical vision, one that he hoped would

overturn established ideas about the past.”


“What we’re looking at here is an accumulation

of discordant evidence and information which doesn’t quite fit in with

the orthodox picture. Bits and pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that seem to

have been just scattered and thrown all around the world, and yet the

feeling that if we can put those pieces together slowly, methodically,

painstakingly, they will show us something that we’ve forgotten about

ourselves, a great civilisation lost in prehistory”


“In his research Hancock became intrigued by

the ideas of writers who have linked ancient monuments with the stars

as they appeared long ago. The patterns of the constellations don’t change,

but the precise angle of groups of stars in relation to the horizon alters

over time. It’s the result of a process called precession. The earth spins

on its axis every 24 hours, but the axis has a very slow wobble which

lasts 26,000 years. This is precession and it slowly changes our view

of the stars. It means that their position in the sky is unique to different

moments in time.

Astronomers have calculated the slowly changing position of the stars

back in time. Using an astronomical software programme, Hancock made an

intriguing discovery. Some of the wonders of the Ancient World appear

to mirror the stars at a precise moment in the past: 10,500BC. It was

a date that was to assume an extraordinary significance for his theory.”


“Groups of monuments in Egypt, and another large

group of monuments far away in Cambodia, are copying constellations in

the sky as they looked, not at the time when those monuments were constructed,

but in a much earlier epoch, the epoch of 10,500BC.”


“In other words, if looked at from above, groups

of monuments mirrored the unique position of the stars as they looked

at that crucial moment in the past. For Hancock, the implications were



“We are looking at the vestiges of an ancient

world-wide religious system, a sky-ground religion. The essential thing

that it had to do was to build architectural copies of groups of stars

in the sky and we’re looking at the vestiges of that system spread out

around the world.”

Barlow then went

on to detail the history of Hancock’s personal interest in many ancient archæological

anomalies, but focussed on the success of his books and his TV series, “The

Search for the Lost Civilisation”, bemoaning the fact that he was part

of a fast-growing movement of radical, alternative, historians who could reach

audiences much wider than orthodox archæologists could command. This seemed

to scratch all the wrong itches with Feder, whose apparent ‘sour grapes’

were edited in at this point.


“Certainly one thing that they’re doing is selling

a lot of books. There’s a long and ignoble history of this sort of thing

and I view it as merely the latest incarnation of somebody obviously quite

fascinated by the past, a populariser of the past, but someone who doesn’t

want to adhere to the scientific method.”


“It is inevitable that this is a threat to orthodox

views of the past. It can’t simply be accepted by a historian that the

whole burden of his work over many, many years is wrong.”


“If Hancock and his fellow authors are right,

we will have to rewrite history. The only way to find out if they are

is to test the theory. It is Ancient Egypt that provides most of these

writers with their key evidence. In particular the pyramids built 4,500

years ago on the Giza plateau near modern Cairo.”

At this point

Hancock tries to explain that there has always been a mystery surrounding the

pyramids at Giza, and introduces the theories of Robert Bauval regarding the

similarities between the groundplan/layout of the three Giza Pyramids, and the

pattern of the stars in the belt of the constellation Orion.

This seemed to

be the crux of the argument that the “Horizon”

team appeared eager to disprove, and indeed the sophisticated astronomical capabilities

of ancient peoples from cultures all over the world has been a thorn in the

side of orthodox archæologists since the time that

Sir Norman Lockyer began his researches in this field over 100 years ago.

Asked to give details of his position about the Pyramids of Giza, Hancock, author


“Fingerprints of the Gods and

“Heaven’s Mirror”, explained :

“I accept Egyptological opinion that the great Pyramids were built

in 2500 BC. I am not saying that the Pyramids were built earlier than

that. What I’m saying is that they were built in 2500 BC, but designed

to commemorate architecturally, symbolically and astronomically an earlier



“If Bauval and Hancock are right the implications

are astounding.”

an image/link to Bauval's book, The Orion Mystery, showing the stars of 

Orion's belt linked to the layout of the Giza pyramids

Then came a sequence about Bauval’s book
“The Orion Mystery”
, dismissed, in the programme-makers’ minds, by the expert opinions of astronomer, Dr. Ed Krupp, who claimed that pictures of the pyramids’ layout as presented in the book were upside down in relation to the belt stars of Orion.

The “Horizon”team, making a meal out of demonstrating this for the cameras, seemed to be implying skullduggery.

The programme then cut directly to images of the Ankgor Wat Temples in Cambodia. After hearing more expert opinion that Hancock’s hypothesis regarding the correlation between the layout of the Ankgor Wat Temples and the pattern of stars in the constellation Draco at 10,500 BC was fanciful, and inaccurate, there was a return quickly back to Egypt, though not before the following edited exchange between Krupp and Hancock as it cut to pictures of the Pyramids.


“In The Orion Mystery there’s a nice double

page spread, and anybody looking at this would say ah, Giza pyramids,

belt of Orion, one kind of looks like the other, you know you’ve got 3

in a row, slanted. We’ve got a map and what I was bothered by turned out

to be really pretty obvious.

In the

back of my head I knew that something was wrong with these pictures, and

what’s wrong with these pictures in their presentation is that north for

the constellation of Orion is here at the top of the page. North for the

Giza pyramids is down here. Now they’re not marked, but I knew which way

north was at Giza and I knew which way north was in Orion.

To make

the map of the pyramids on the ground match the stars of Orion in the

sky you have to turn Egypt upside down, and if you don’t want to do that

then you’ve got to turn the sky upside down.”


“Ed Krupp’s argument that the pyramids are somehow

upside down in relation to the patterns of the stars in the sky to my

mind is a very pedantic and nit-picking and ungenerous attitude. I think

that what we’re proposing, that the Ancient Egyptians were making a pleasing,

symbolic resemblance to what they saw in the sky on the ground is a very

reasonable argument”


“But Hancock does offer other kinds of evidence for his theory. The Sphinx

was carved out of the limestones of the Giza Plateau. Mainstream archaeologists

think that it was built four and a half thousand years ago. But Hancock

believes it is 12,000 years old. Some of his evidence is again astronomical.

The constellation, Leo, rose above the horizon directly East of the Sphinx

in 10,500 BC. But there is no evidence that this constellation was recognised

by the ancient Egyptians.

But Hancock

also claims there is geological evidence. Egypt has had a dry climate

since the time the Pyramids were built. But the Sphinx and its surrounding

enclosure are deeply eroded. It has been argued by Hancock and others

that the erosion was caused by heavy rainfall, and that this means the

Sphinx must have been carved many thousands of years earlier than we thought

– when the climate was wetter.”


the erosion argument has not stood up to the scrutiny of Geologists. Erosion

on the Giza Plateau does not depend on water. The grey limestones contain

salts, and these have proved to cause destructive levels of erosion in

very short periods of time. There is no hard evidence that the Sphinx

is any older than the orthodox date.”

The Sphinx

erosion dialogue above was accompanied by shots of the Great Sphinx and

the seriously eroded enclosure, though there was no mention of

Dr Robert M. Schoch, arguably the leading world expert on the

Sphinx erosion. This was surprising, as another BBC team flew Dr Schoch

out to the Sphinx in June 1999 to comment on the causes of the erosion,

and it’s difficult to imagine that the “Horizon”

team could have been unaware of Dr Schoch’s well-known views that precipitation

was the likely cause of at least some of the erosion on the Great Sphinx


an image/link to Dr Schoch's Sphinx Re-dating pages


Schoch’s uncensored views about the causes of the erosion at the

Great Sphinx can be found in his recent book,

“Voices of the Rocks”, and his February 2000 comments about

the Sphinx erosion debate can be accessed directly by clicking on

the Sphinx-erosion image to the left, and following the sequence

as the latest chapter of the story unfolds in scrolling captions

at the bottom.


July 1999, Dr Robert M. Schoch

From the Sphinx

the programme then jumped to South America, cutting to an image of Tiwanaku,

Bolivia. There were shots of Hancock explaining his beliefs about Tiwanaku,

and his opinion regarding the pioneering work of Arthur Poznansky. The “Horizon”

team rushed to dismiss this work by referring to the absence of Radio-Carbon-Dating

during Poznansky’s time, stating he couldn’t have therefore known he was wrong

in his dates based on astronomical calculations of equinoctial precession. This

snippet was offered as if it were the definitive word on the obviously ‘non-radio-carbon-datable’

megalithic structures at Tiwanaku.

In another

astonishing world-hop it then cuts to Antarctica. The narrator commented

about geologists drilling for ice-cores, stating how they are very accurate,

like tree-rings, and that as some of the ice-cores date back 400,000 years

it was impossible for Atlantis to ever have been there 12,000 years ago.

Hancock responded that he “doesn’t need”

Antarctica for his hypothesis, and so it cut to scenes of people swimming

around the enigmatic underwater structure that was discovered 13 years

ago off the coast of Yonaguni Jima, Japan.

There followed

a sequence of underwater shots of Hancock, Schoch, and others exploring

the structure discovered by a local fisherman in 1987 off the southernmost

island of Yonaguni..

an image/link to the Morien Institute Yonaguni pages


“It appears to be a series of steps and

Pyramid-like structures. Could this be the remains of a city lost

12,000 years ago?”


“It bears all the hallmarks of a designed ceremonial, ritual or

religious monument.”

“Yonaguni looked like it could be a spectacular discovery, but Hancock needed corroboration.”

Copyright July 1999, Dr

Robert M. Schoch

It then cut to

footage of Dr Schoch walking towards the Giza Pyramids for some strange reason.

Perhaps the editor had problems with sequential thought, or simply didn’t like

what he had to say about the water-based erosion evident in the Sphinx enclosure,

from where the body of the Sphinx was cut out of the bedrock.


“He invited the Boston University Geologist,

Robert Schoch, to inspect the site. Prof. Schoch has taken a keen interest

in unorthodox views of the past, and he welcomed the chance to examine

the underwater discovery. Schoch dived with Hancock several times at Yonaguni.”

Cut to a

talking-head of Dr Schoch in a studio environment, who explains :


went there, in this case, actually hoping that it was a totally man-made

structure that was submerged underwater, that dated maybe back to 6000

BC or more. When I got there, and I got to dive on the structure, I have

to admit I was very disappointed because I was basically convinced after

a few dives that this was primarily, possibly totally, a natural structure.”

an image/link to the Morien Institute Yonaguni pages

Then cut

back to Hancock, who commented abruptly :

“I think that what Robert Schoch needs to do is a lot more diving.

When I took him there in September of 1997 he did four dives at

that time, and then he went back again in July of 1998 and did a

few more dives. I really feel that before anybody pronounces definitively

on this monument they should put in a minimum of 50 dives.”


July 1999, Dr Robert M. Schoch

Another Barlow

voice-over with a tinge of childish glee:

“Professor Schoch has not changed his mind.”

Back to Dr Schoch

in the studio again:

“I suppose portions of it look like they were man-made, but when you

looked at it in context – you look at the shore features etc, and you

see how in this case fine sandstones split along horizontal bedding planes,

that give you these regular features – I’m convinced it’s a natural structure.”

Cut to underwater

views of rolling waves, and yet another Barlow voice-over:

“Graham Hancock is still scouring the oceans of the world for a lost

civilisation. He has also investigated Pyramids, and a giant stone face

on the planet Mars. But he has yet to find firm evidence that there really

was a forgotten civilisation of God-like astronomers 12,000 years ago.”

And back to Hancock,

who seemed upset:

“I believe passionately that the past has been misrepresented, and

that people today are not being given the full picture. And I don’t think

that my arguments are ever going to be successfully destroyed by nit-picking.”

As a final nail-in-the-coffin

attempt to discredit Hancock, and especially Bauval, whose work Hancock

relied upon for his radically different view of prehistory, the programme

then cut to Dr. Ed Krupp in Griffith Observatory:

“After having invested a lot of time, doing what I think very few other

people do, which is saying ‘OK, You’ve made this

claim. Let’s see if it holds up’, and so subjecting it to the rules

of evidence, and then coming to a conclusion. My conclusion is – NO. I

don’t think they’re right. And I don’t think they’re right because I don’t

think the evidence fits the hypothesis.”

The title of Part

II was “Atlantis Reborn”, though many viewers

were left with the feeling that the programme would have been more appropriately

entitled “Get Hancock!”. Hancock, for his

part, reacted unwisely with his sideswipes at everyone who disagreed with him,

even though it was obvious that the programme had been selectively edited to

make him and Bauval, and anyone who agreed with them, look as mad as possible.


comments about the underwater Yonaguni structure,

his opinion that Boston University geologist, Dr Robert M. Schoch, needing

to do “..a lot more diving..”, and

his feelings that “..before anybody pronounces

definitively on this monument they should put in a minimum of 50 dives..”,

came across sadly as ‘sour grapes’.

an image/link to Dr Schoch's book, Voices of the Rocks


had invited Dr Schoch to Yonaguni to get his opinion as to whether

or not the structure was man-made, and The Morien

Institute asked Dr Schoch if he was prepared to respond

to the various comments made in the programme. He was, and he us

sent these comments :

“I have experienced many wonderful dives at Yonaguni and I have

been able to examine the structure quite thoroughly. It is a bit

nonsensical to say that one needs to have 50 dives there before

offering an opinion.

One or two good dives, combined with a thorough study of the associated

shoreline structures and the local geology and tectonic setting,

is what is critical.”

Copyright July 1999, Dr Robert M. Schoch

If nothing

else the “Horizon” programmes

made a lot of people very angry, and in an ironic way has actually helped

the debate about civilisation in prehistory to reach a much wider audience.

What appears to have been edited out seems to be just as important as

the actual content of the programme as broadcast, which must have broken

most rules of impartial journalism – a major discredit to the BBC’s otherwise

well-respected “Horizon” team.

But Graham

Hancock never gave up in what he believed, and equally, not all geologists

are in agreement with Dr Schoch. Recent underwater discoveries off the

western tip of Cuba,

and in northwest India, in the Gulf of

Khambhat (Cambay), make it

more likely that the Yonaguni

structure is at least ‘terraformed’

– that is, originally a natural structure whose shape has been considerably

enhanced at some time or another by human hands.

The recent

(February/March 2002) programmes

on UK Channel 4, “Flooded

Kingdoms of the Ice Age”, which accompanied the release of Hancock’s

new (February 2002) book

“Underworld”, detail the recent discoveries that have been

found in depths of up to 300 feet of water on various coastal shelves

around India, and in the mediterranean around Malta.





The Morien Institute


October 2002 Morien Institute illustrated

interview with Professor Masaaki Kimura of


University of the Ruykyus, Okinawa, Japan,

about the discovery of:

“More megalithic structures found off the

coast of Yonaguni-jima, Japan”

please left-click to go directlt the interview with Professor Masaaki Kimura


History’s Mysteries

“Do undersea relics near Okinawa offer proof of a sophisticated civilization during the last ice age? Archeologists have long believed that civilization as we define it — intelligent, tool-making, monument building, social humans — began about 5,000 years ago.

But submerged beneath the waves near the Japanese island of Yonaguni is evidence that may well overturn that long-held theory. A small but persuasive number of scholars and scientists have long thought that “advanced” societies may have existed as long as 10,000 years ago.

Their theories, however well reasoned and defended, have been hamstrung by a lack of evidence. But recent discoveries of man-made artifacts on the Pacific seafloor may well prove to be the smoking gun that will propel this alternative view of civilization to prominence”.

see the evidence with ‘unique underwater footage’ of the Yonaguni structures in the NEW DVD of the

‘History Channel’ television programme

“Japan’s Mysterious Pyramids”

Now On DVD


please take a look at our Ancient Mysteries Bookshoppe for a wide selection of books

that challenge orthodox views of prehistory on every continent


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