Nearly 13,000 years ago millions of people and animals were wiped out, and the world plunged abruptly into a new ice-age. It was more than a thousand years before the climate, and mankind, recovered.
The people of Gobekli Tepe in present-day southern Turkey, whose ancestors witnessed this catastrophe, built a megalithic monument formed of many hammer-shaped pillars decorated with symbols as a memorial to this terrible event. Before long, they also invented agriculture, and their new farming culture spread rapidly across the continent, signalling the arrival of civilisation.
Before abandoning Gobekli Tepe thousands of years later, they covered it completely with rubble to preserve the greatest and most important story ever told for future generations. Archaeological excavations began at the site in 1994, and we are now able to read their story, more amazing than any Hollywood plot, again for the first time in over 10,000 years. It is a story of survival and resurgence that allows one of the world's greatest scientific puzzles - the meaning of ancient artworks, from the 40,000 year-old Lion-man figurine of Hohlenstein-Stadel cave in Germany to the Great Sphinx of Giza - to be solved.
We now know what happened to these people. It probably had happened many times before and since, and it could happen again, to us. The conventional view of prehistory is a sham; we have been duped by centuries of misguided scholarship. The world is actually a much more dangerous place than we have been led to believe. The old myths and legends, of cataclysm and conflagration, are surprisingly accurate.
We know this because, at last, we can read an extremely ancient code assumed by scholars to be nothing more than depictions of wild animals. A code hiding in plain sight that reveals we have hardly changed in 40,000 years. A code that changes everything.