Ancient Apocalypse? You can’t be Sirius (pt 2)

Regardless whether the temples were built 6,000 years ago (as archaeologists believe), or anywhere up to 20,000 years ago (as suggested by Hancock)… one thing is certain: ‘in its prime’, Ġgantija would certainly not have even remotely resembled the high-rise edifice we see in ‘Ancient Apocalypse’

Graham Hancock’s 2022 reconstruction of Ggantija temples (left); and Suzanne Psaila’s 2012 digital model of Hagar Qim (right)
Graham Hancock’s 2022 reconstruction of Ggantija temples (left); and Suzanne Psaila’s 2012 digital model of Hagar Qim (right)

In Episode 3 of ‘Ancient Apocalypse’, Graham Hancock regales us with a CGI ‘reconstruction’ of what he thinks the Ġgantija megalithic temples may have looked like, soon after they were first built.

Now: as the entire purpose of this series is to challenge the scientific consensus regarding the age of those very temples… I won’t bother going into exactly ‘when that was’, for now. Instead, I will focus only on the reconstruction itself; and some of the claims that come with it.

As viewers are beckoned to enter this (admittedly very impressive) prehistoric version of the ‘Portomaso Hilton’, Hancock’s voice is heard musing in the background:

“In its prime, Ġgantija was truly gigantic. As tall as a three-storey house. The outer walls were constructed from huge stones, stacked atop one another. Two connected temples, with oval shaped chambers, their walls painted red; and a series of altars where charred animal remains were found: suggesting ritual sacrifice, or feasting. There are no written sources telling us when Ġgantija was built. And no reliable carbon dates.”

Right: from the outset, I will not waste too much time on the most glaring assumption in all that – i.e., that there are ‘no reliable carbon dates’ – because countless archaeologists have already taken to YouTube, in droves, to point out that…

… actually, there’ve been quite a few studies, over the years, that have used ‘radio-carbon dating’ (and other techniques: including Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Dating) to determine the age of Malta’s temples.

All these studies, by the way, are very easily accessible online; and, more importantly, they are all subject to peer-review.

So exactly how Hancock can so cavalierly dismiss all those decades of scientific research (all of which yielded broadly comparable results), as if it even ‘didn’t exist at all’… well, I guess we have to add that to all the other ‘unanswerable questions’, raised by the same Netflix series.

To be fair, however: much of the rest does actually align quite neatly, with the ‘consensus’ view of archaeology. That Ġgantija consisted of ‘two connected temples, with oval-shaped chambers’ is easily confirmed just by visiting the site today [even if it remains unclear whether it was built that way from scratch; or whether – as happened, and still happens, with so many contemporary churches - it was enlarged, and expanded, over the course of several centuries.]

Likewise, all the archaeologists I’ve ever read on the subject, concur that the ‘slaughter of animals’ – whether for ritual, or feasting purposes, or both – was a regular practice at all Maltese megalithic sites.

I need hardly add, of course, that Hancock is also perfectly correct in claiming that there are ‘no written records’ to tell us how old these temples are. (That is, after all, the dictionary-definition of the term ‘prehistory’, right there.)

At the same time, however: by specifying such an obvious, self-evident fact, Graham Hancock may have inadvertently drawn attention to a small flaw in his entire theory (that will only become much bigger, as the episode progresses).

Think about for it a second. His basic premise is that early human civilisations were ‘not technologically advanced enough’ to learn how to plant crops, or domesticate animals, all on their own; and even less, to build anything as elaborate as Ġgantija, 6,000 years ago.

This leads Hancock to propose two alternative hypotheses to account for the ‘anomaly’:

1) Either that the temples themselves were built at a much earlier date (basically, any time before 13,000 years ago), by the remnants of a superior civilization (now lost) that Hancock identifies as ‘Atlantis’;

2) Or else, that the temples really were built by a later culture (though still much earlier than claimed by archaeologists), which was ‘taught’ technologies such as agriculture, and advanced megalithism, by the same ‘lost civilisation’.

To this, we have to add that these ‘Atlanteans’ were also so very technologically advanced, that they somehow managed to impart their superior wisdom to various civilisations spanning the entire globe: from Malta, to Indonesia, to the Americas, and beyond…

All of which leads us to conclude that this ultra-advanced civilization called ‘Atlantis’ – which bequeathed to us all the technologies that we now associate with the ‘Neolithic revolution’: farming, animal husbandry, architecture, astronomy, etc. – managed to achieve all the above… without ever have developed a form of ‘written communication’, of its own. (For as Hancock himself argues: there are ‘no written records’, are they? Yet surely there WOULD be, if the Atlanteans were capable of leaving any…)

Sorry to have to raise the obvious question, but… how DID the Atlanteans actually pass on all that information – generation after generation – without the aid of writing?  And in any case: if these Atlanteans were just as ‘illiterate’, as the people they presumably ‘educated’ all over the world… how (at the risk of repeating my last article) were they also capable of developing all those other technologies, in the first place? (In a word: how could the Atlanteans have singlehandedly discovered, and perfected, every advanced technology of that age… except the most important, and advanced, of the lot?)

But that’s as far as I’ll go for today: because people like Hancock always have instant, ‘potted’ answers to that sort of question. (If it’s not ‘Aliens!’, it’s ‘Telepathy!’; and if it’s not ‘Telepathy!’, it’s… well, ‘Magic’, I suppose.)

No, the question I’d like to ponder today, concerns whether Ġgantija temples ever DID really appear, as portrayed in that video. Is that computer-generated image really the result of a well-researched, and scientifically-conducted attempt to ‘reconstruct’ Ġgantija? Or is it just… well, ‘guesswork’?

Reason I ask is that: when I showed the video to Prof. Anthony Bonanno (who has studied Malta’s temples for the better part of 50 years), around the first thing he pointed out was that:

“Hancock makes a basic mistake here. He doesn’t distinguish between two different types of stone. Hagar Qim is made up of blocks of Globegerina Limestone […]. The exterior envelope of Ġgantija, on the other hand, is made from Coralline Limestone…”

Among the many differences between the two is that Coralline is far more resistant to wind-and-water erosion, than the more ‘crumbly’ Globegerina (this much is evident even from the state of deterioration of Hagar Qim’s megaliths).

The stones of Ġgantija, on the other hand, may appear ‘grizzled’, and ‘weather-worn’, to us today… but that’s because (in Bonanno’s own words): “That rugged, ‘Swiss-cheese’-like effect does not come from erosion; it’s how the stones would originally have looked, even at the time when they were first quarried.”

This brings us to another inaccuracy, that – to be honest – doesn’t even require any scientific knowledge to discern. To quote Bonanno once more, “the external walls appear to be very cleanly cut into squares, separated by straight, deeply-cut grooves: a bit like the Pyramids of Egypt, really.” (To which I might add: “and not unlike Peru’s Macchu Picchu, either”).

Even a cursory glance at today’s ruins, however, is enough to confirm that the stones were NOT ‘cleanly cut into squares’; nor would they have appeared as ‘polished’, and ‘sanded-down’, as that.

In other words: regardless whether the temples were built 6,000 years ago (as archaeologists believe), or anywhere up to 20,000 years ago (as suggested by Hancock)… one thing is certain: ‘in its prime’, Ġgantija would certainly NOT have even remotely resembled the high-rise edifice we see in ‘Ancient Apocalypse’.

In fact, the only ‘accurate’ thing about that image, is arguably the floorplan… which strongly suggests, to my mind, that the graphic designer who created it, took the outline of the existing ruins… and simply ‘projected the walls upwards’ (using his own vivid imagination, to fill in all the missing details).

Ah, but then… how far can you realistically ‘project those walls upwards’, before the entire edifice becomes unstable, and literally COLLAPSES?

According to Hancock, the answer is easy (Ġgantija was ‘as tall as a three-storey building’, remember)?

But once again: it’s a little detail that the programme just throws at us, without any word of explanation (still less, verification).

Now: consider how vastly all this contrasts, with the last time someone undertook a similar exercise (Dr Suzanne Psaila, whose 2012 PhD thesis took the form of a ‘virtual reconstruction of Haġar Qim’.)

The first difference you will notice is that: unlike Hancock, Psaila seems to have actually done some research. The shape, height and appearance of her reconstruction, we are told, was “based on a 5,000-year-old small model of a prehistoric building found at the Tarxien temples.”

That model is in turn one of several such ‘miniatures’, bequeathed to us by the same people who actually built the temples themselves (most of the others were retrieved form Ta’ Haġrat); and, well, you’d sort of expect that the original architects would know a thing or two, about what their own designs actually looked like... wouldn’t you?

But guess what? None of those models represent a building that could have realistically stood ‘three storeys tall’. In fact, Psalia’s virtual model stood at only 8.5 metres, from floor-to-ceiling (rising to 11.4 metres, if you include a tall stone ‘crest’ that apparently once stood over the entrance): which corresponds to the height of a ‘two-storey’ building, not a ‘three-storey’ one.

Meanwhile, there was another aspect that went into Psaila’s research (but evidently, not into Hancock’s). In 2012, she told The Times that: “It’s not simply a matter of drawing stones one on top of another: each stone is given all the dimensions and the weight – and the [computer] programme won’t allow you to keep on building if the structure can’t take the weight.”

Did Hancock use the same software to test the durability of his own reconstruction, I wonder? Probably not: for reasons that become evident when you compare the two models themselves.

As can be seen from the image: Psaila’s ‘Haġar Qim’ is constructed on the principle of a ‘corbelled dome’: the same method we still use to build ‘giren’ (and ‘igloos’) to this day. It consists in a wide base, made from massive, load-bearing stones… on top of which, a corbelled dome is compressed into position, by its own weight.

Significantly, however: the outer wall does not rise higher than one storey, at most, before tapering off into its domed roof. (If it rose too much higher, the wall would not have been able to bear the roof’s weight).

Hancock’s version of Ġgantija, on the other hand, rises vertical from the ground as high as around 36 feet (11 metres), before suddenly (and inexplicably) smoothening out to form a partial, sloping – not ‘domed’ - roof: which, quite frankly, doesn’t seem to be supported by any underlying structure… AT ALL.

Simply put: if Hancock’s reconstruction really is ‘accurate’… Ġgantija would almost certainly have collapsed, long before construction was even completed.

(In other words: just as quickly as Hancock’s entire Atlantis theory would certainly collapse, if people out there subjected it to the same scientific scrutiny, as ‘conventional archaeology’)…