Graham Hancock's work has followed an interesting evolution, moving from one connected subject to another. Although primarily a newspaper journalist, in the early eighties he moved more in the direction of book writing. Initially his work followed a pattern of examining Third World culture and in particular its poverty and disease and western policy towards it culminating in the highly acclaimed critique of foreign aid, Lords of Poverty in 1989. It was however his next venture that began his gradual move from mainstream writer to international best seller. The Sign and the Seal was concerned with his journey to explore the possible last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. 'Hancock has invented a new genre,' commented The Guardian, 'an intellectual whodunit by a do-it-yourself sleuth.' His next book affirmed his high status and Fingerprints of the Gods and he had become the leading light in a field of new investigative journalism that combined archaeological research, physical exploration and a New Age and non conformist attitude towards the subject matter. Books such as Keeper of Genesis and Heavens Mirror carried on the new look at early civilizations and applying alternative theories.
Whilst these books may seem a bit sensationalist to the mainstream views of archaeology, his most recent release, Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age is not only his most important work, it is also, I feel, one of the most important books to hit the shelves in a number of years and yet its premise is so simple. It runs along the following lines. Firstly in the last 15,000 years the sea levels have risen as the old Ice Shelves of the Ice Age have disappeared. If you reverse this statement you can see that during the Ice Age the worlds coast lines extended further than they do today and areas that are now shallow waters such as continental shelves were once dry land. Coincidentally mans development of urban lifestyle began to develop 10,000 years ago, the first cities appear and mans ability to organise himself into fixed communities becomes evident. Also add to this idea that the most natural place for early towns to develop is along coastal regions, due to the ease of transport and resources to be found there. The result of these facts suggests that the earliest cities would have been built in coastal regions that are now no longer on dry land but in the shallower waters a few miles off of the present coast. Hancock's book then follows his exploration of a number of areas that back up this theory.
This work alone, which has spawned a number of TV programs, is enough to warrant a higher profile in the academic community, but as is usual for a popular writer his work is yet to prevail into the ivory towers of the elite. However, I believe, his work will stand the test of time, both the more accessible works, such as Underworld as well as the more extreme such as Fingerprints of The Gods. Either way I'm sure there are many more interesting books and theories to come from this writer and explorer yet.