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: Controversial reporter, Graham Hancock. 	Source: Netflix

"Ancient Apocalypse" Filming Halted Amid Native American Outcry

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Graham Hancock, the British host of the hit Netflix series "Ancient Apocalypse," has canceled plans to film a new season in the United States following significant backlash from Native American groups, according to The Guardian this week. Hancock, a former journalist, is known for his controversial theories about an advanced lost civilization active during the last ice age, which mainstream archaeologists and Indigenous communities have criticized.

Despite the show's popularity, having reached Netflix's top 10 in 31 countries, its plans to film at the Grand Canyon and Chaco Canyon faced strong objections from local tribal leaders. Some Native groups argued that Hancock's theories misrepresent and undermine their history and cultural heritage.

Permits and Pushback

In February, ITN Productions, the company behind "Ancient Apocalypse," applied for permits to film at the Grand Canyon National Park and Chaco Canyon National Historical Park. The National Park Service (NPS) confirmed that ITN received a permit for Chaco Canyon and had applied for one at the Grand Canyon. However, ITN informed The Guardian that neither permit will be utilized, as ITN announced plans to film outside the US, although no specific reason was provided.

Documents The Guardian obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that some filming had occurred in Chaco Canyon in January. However, planned filming in March was canceled due to delays in securing permissions for other sites.

Digital reconstruction of ancient Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico before the site was mysteriously abandoned. (Public domain)

Digital reconstruction of ancient Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico before the site was mysteriously abandoned. (Public domain)

The filming permit application described the program as exploring “one of archaeology’s biggest mysteries: the peopling of the Americas" and uncovering the latest findings about the earliest inhabitants. This description, however, sparked controversy as it implied investigating Indigenous history through a lens that many Native American groups found offensive.

Native American and Archaeological Community Reactions

Hancock's theories, which suggest an advanced ice age civilization contributed to modern understandings of mathematics, architecture, and agriculture before being wiped out by comet-induced floods, have drawn ire from both Indigenous communities and professional archaeologists. They argue that Hancock's claims disrespect the oral histories and archaeological evidence of Indigenous peoples.

Stewart Koyiyumptewa, the tribal historic preservation officer for the Hopi Nation, criticized Hancock for presenting his theories as superior to Indigenous histories. The Hopi people, who have lived in or near the Grand Canyon for over 2,000 years, consider the area sacred and allegedly felt degraded by the prospect of Hancock filming there.

A Grand Canyon National Park staff member, who is Native American, echoed these sentiments, expressing embarrassment and discredit to the agency's efforts to respect Indigenous people and rectify historical wrongs.

Hancock’s Theories in a Nutshell

However, there is no denying the popularity of Hancock’s theories amongst those who are willing to challenge mainstream thinking.

Even before the huge success of the Neflix series, Hancock had authored major international non-fiction bestsellers including;  The Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, The Message of the Sphinx, Heaven’s Mirror, Underworld and Supernatural, and of the epic adventure novels  Entangled and War God.

His books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into 30 languages. His public lectures, radio and TV appearances, including two major TV series for Channel 4 in the UK and The Learning Channel in the US - Quest For The Lost Civilisation and Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age - have put his ideas before audiences of tens of millions. He has become recognized as an unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity's past.

Graham Hancock's "Ancient Apocalypse" theory posits that advanced human civilizations existed during the last ice age and were subsequently wiped out by a cataclysmic event, leaving behind remnants that influenced later ancient cultures. Here are some arguments supporting his theory:

  1. Ancient Structures and Advanced Knowledge: Hancock and others point to megalithic structures like Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, which date back to around 9600 BC, as evidence of advanced engineering and astronomical knowledge that predates known civilizations like the Sumerians and Egyptians. He argues that the sophistication of these structures suggests they were built by a more advanced civilization that existed before recorded history.
  2. Flood Myths and Geological Evidence: Many ancient cultures have flood myths, such as the biblical story of Noah, the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Hindu tale of Manu. Hancock connects these myths to geological evidence of dramatic sea level rises and flooding around the end of the last Ice Age, suggesting that these stories could be memories of real events experienced by early advanced societies.
  3. Ice Age Timeline and the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis: Hancock supports the hypothesis that a comet impact or a series of impacts caused the Younger Dryas period around 12,800 years ago, a time of sudden climate cooling. He argues that this event could have triggered massive floods and other natural disasters that destroyed advanced Ice Age civilizations.
  4. Lost Civilizations and Diffusionism: Hancock suggests that knowledge from these lost civilizations diffused into later known cultures, explaining similarities in pyramidal structures, astronomical alignments, and advanced mathematics across distant ancient societies like the Egyptians, Mayans, and Mesopotamians. He contends that these similarities are too pronounced to be mere coincidence and indicate a common source of knowledge.
  5. Critique of Mainstream Archaeology: Hancock often critiques mainstream archaeology for being overly conservative and dismissive of alternative theories. He argues that the academic establishment is reluctant to revise the timeline of human civilization and that new discoveries are often shoehorned into existing frameworks rather than prompting a re-evaluation of history.

Hancock's arguments rely on reinterpreting archaeological, geological, and mythological evidence to support the idea that advanced human societies existed much earlier than traditionally believed.

Critics argue that his theories often lack direct evidence and that his interpretations can be speculative, but they continue to spark debate and interest in the possibility of unknown chapters in human history, of which there are many.

Broader Implications and Criticism

Hancock's show has faced controversies internationally. In the first season, his portrayal of archaeological sites in Indonesia and Micronesia led to objections from scholars and Indigenous leaders. Hancock's (and other researchers) theories about the ancient pyramid Gunung Padang and the ruins of Nan Madol being constructed by an advanced civilization over 20,000 years ago were particularly contentious. Local oral histories and archaeological evidence suggest these structures were built by ancestors of present-day communities within the last 1,000 years.

Professor Patrick Nunn, an expert in Pacific geography and archaeology, argued that Hancock's theories perpetuate racist ideologies from the 19th century by stripping Indigenous peoples of their historical achievements. In a 2000 essay, Hancock claimed that prehistoric Americas were inhabited by various ethnic groups, including Caucasians and Africans, based on his interpretation of ancient artifacts.

When the National Park Service initially considered granting ITN a filming permit at the Grand Canyon, Koyiyumptewa and other tribal leaders expressed their disapproval, emphasizing that such decisions should involve tribal consultation. The lack of consultation and the negative consequences of the proposed filming further strained relations between Indigenous communities and the authorities.

Call for Accountability

Established archaeologists have urged Netflix to label "Ancient Apocalypse" as science fiction, arguing that Hancock's theories are harmful to the profession and exhibit racist attitudes towards Indigenous peoples. The Society for American Archaeology's letter to Netflix described Hancock's narrative as “preposterous” and emboldening extreme voices that spread “false historical narratives”.

Hancock has defended his work, denying any intent to spread disinformation or racist ideologies. He argues that the absence of material evidence for a lost ice age civilization does not disprove its existence.

According to Pinkvilla, he defended himself like this in a post on his website:

“I have been outspoken about the many failings of archaeology as an institution, but at no point in Ancient Apocalypse is any individual archaeologist disparaged. With its 30th November 2022 open letter, however, the SAA seeks to disparage me as an individual, to defame my reputation for honest reporting and to do harm to me personally.” 

Top image: Controversial reporter, Graham Hancock. Source: Netflix

By Gary Manners



SO – you were here first? Maybe it’s your ancestors Graham is giving credit to? Why would you be so silly as to resent somebody just trying to find the truth about the ancients? Nobody is trying to put down NA stories! Neither should we just believe what those stories are if there is something that makes them suspect! Graham has given a huge number of people a reason to be interested in history – most do not get interested unless there is something fascinating that perks us up! I have been reading his stuff for decades now, and Von Daniken before him – always with a big questionb mark, nothing is certain, just fascinating ideas & why not? I certainly do not consider those who say they are ‘Experts’ to be so just because they are conceited enough to think so! Don’t they understand the one big truth in life – we can NEVER know everything there is just too much of it!!!

I think that this is a shame, personally. And I like the Native Americans.

Whilst I do understand the need for cultural sensitivity, and they certainly deserve it, Native Americans, have, by their very default length of time in North America, enough about them imo to withstand challenges or alternative theories to their own. Just banning and refusing every approach because it could allow for an alternative line of thought smacks of preciousness.

He's filming a documentary with a small team, not digging for oil. One man is not going to disrespect the land that predates all of us and will be here long after we are all gone.

And it's not as if other world cultures aren't asked about alternative notions.

Pick a side. Either side.

This is the choice given to us constantly.

I choose neither. I choose a different side. That of God. There was a great flood. That is no myth.

Gary Manners's picture


Gary is an editor and content manager for Ancient Origins. He has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of York and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. He has worked in education, the educational sector, social work... Read More

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