Graham Hancock recently became familiar to a large television audience in Britain through his Channel 4 series Heavenís Mirror. His programmes clearly struck a chord with the public: a book of the same title intended to accompany the show went to the top of the Sunday Times best-seller list.

Hancockís hypothesis, as presented in the his 1995 best-seller Fingerprints of the Gods?, is that an great civilisation existed 13,000 years ago, prior to the end of the last ice-age. That's a controversial claim, since mainstream history teaches that there were no civilisations anywhere before about 4000BC. And Hancock's civilisation was advanced: it was sophisticated enough to navigate and map the globe, and may have approached (or even exceeded) the technology of our own times. It was destroyed in an appalling natural catastrophe that effected the whole surface of the earth.

Hancock believes that the survivors of this Ice Age civilisation knew that the catastrophe that befell them would recur. To warn the people of the far future of the threat they would inevitably face, the survivors hid a message within their monuments that could be decoded using the universal language of science. The message makes Hancockís theory of interest not just to academic archaeologists and historians, to the whole of humanity, for it warns of a global cataclysm that will occur at the end of 2012AD.

Worried? That's only nine years away.

Before sucumbing to panic, let's think about Hancock's claims a bit. Click here to begin, or select the chapters button from the menu on the left.