Phantom time hypothesis
The phantom time hypothesis is a historical conspiracy theory advanced by German historian and publisher Heribert Illig (born 1947) which proposes that historical events between AD 614 and 911 in the Early Middle Ages of Europe and neighbouring regions are either wrongly dated, or did not occur at all, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact.
Explanation of the hypothesis
The hypothesis suggests a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII to fabricate a dating system that placed them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history, inventing the heroic figure of Charlemagne among other things.
Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation, and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.
Arguments for the hypothesis
- The scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period AD 614–911, the perceived inadequacies of radiometric and dendrochronological methods of dating this period, and the over-reliance of medieval historians on written sources.
- The presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe, suggesting the Roman era was not as long before as conventionally thought.
- The relation between the Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar and the underlying astronomical solar or tropical year. The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar, was long known to introduce a discrepancy from the tropical year of around one day for each century that the calendar was in use. By the time the Gregorian calendar was introduced in AD 1582, Illig alleges that the old Julian calendar "should" have produced a discrepancy of thirteen days between it and the real (or tropical) calendar. Instead, the astronomers and mathematicians working for Pope Gregory had found that the civil calendar needed to be adjusted by only ten days. From this, Illig concludes that the AD era had counted roughly three centuries which never existed.
Arguments against the hypothesis
- Observations in ancient astronomy, including during the Tang Dynasty in China, of solar eclipses and Halley's Comet for example, are consistent with current astronomy with no "phantom time" added.
- Archaeological remains and dating methods such as dendrochronology refute, rather than support, "phantom time".
- Regarding the Gregorian reform: It was never intended or purported to bring the calendar in line with the Julian calendar as it had existed in 45 BC, the time of its institution, but as it had existed in 325, the time of the Council of Nicaea, which had established a method for determining the date of Easter Sunday by fixing the Vernal Equinox on March 20 in the Julian calendar. By 1582, the astronomical equinox was occurring on March 10 in the Julian calendar, but Easter was still being calculated from a nominal equinox on March 20. In 45 BC the astronomical vernal equinox took place around March 23. Illig's "three missing centuries" thus correspond to the 369 years between the institution of the Julian calendar in 45 BC, and the fixing of the Easter Date at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
- If Charlemagne and the Carolingian dynasty were fabricated, there would have to be a corresponding fabrication of the history of the rest of Europe, including Anglo-Saxon England, the Papacy, and the Byzantine Empire. The "phantom time" period also encompasses the life of Muhammad and the Islamic expansion into the areas of the former Roman Empire, including the conquest of Visigothic Spain. This history too would have to be forged or drastically misdated. It would also have to be reconciled with the history of the Tang Dynasty of China and its contact with Islam, such as at the Battle of Talas.
- The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended
- Glasgow Chronology
- New Chronology (Fomenko)
- New Chronology (Rohl)
- Revised chronology of Immanuel Velikovsky
- Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist? pp 9-10.
- Fomenko, Anatoly (2007). History: Chronology 1: Second Edition. Mithec. ISBN 2-913621-07-4.
- Illig, Heribert (2000). Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht? (ISBN 3548750648). Econ Verlag.
- Illig, Heribert. Das erfundene Mittelalter (ISBN 3548364292).
- Dieter Herrmann (2000), "Nochmals: Gab es eine Phantomzeit in unserer Geschichte?" (in German), Beiträge zur Astronomiegeschichte 3: pp. 211–214
- Dutch, Stephen. "Is a Chunk of History Missing?". Retrieved 14 May 2011.
- Amalie Fößel (1999), "Karl der Fiktive?" (in German), Damals, Magazin für Geschichte und Kultur (8): pp. 20f
- Karl Mütz: Die „Phantomzeit“ 614 bis 911 von Heribert Illig. Kalendertechnische und kalenderhistorische Einwände. In: Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte. Band 60, 2001, S. 11-23.
- Adams, Cecil. "Did the Middle Ages Not Really Happen?". Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Illig, Heribert: Enthält das frühe Mittelalter erfundene Zeit? and subsequent discussion, in: Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften 8 (1997), pp. 481–520.
- Schieffer, Rudolf: Ein Mittelalter ohne Karl den Großen, oder: Die Antworten sind jetzt einfach, in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 48 (1997), pp. 611–617.
- Matthiesen, Stephan: Erfundenes Mittelalter - fruchtlose These!, in: Skeptiker 2 (2002).
- Egon Friedell und Immanuel Velikovsky. Vom Weltbild zweier Außenseiter, Basel 1985.
- Die veraltete Vorzeit, Heribert Illig, Eichborn, 1988
- with Gunnar Heinsohn: Wann lebten die Pharaonen?, Mantis, 1990, revised 2003 ISBN 3-928852-26-4
- Karl der Fiktive, genannt Karl der Große, 1992
- Hat Karl der Große je gelebt? Bauten, Funde und Schriften im Widerstreit, 1994
- Hat Karl der Große je gelebt?, Heribert Illig, Mantis, 1996
- Das erfundene Mittelalter. Die größte Zeitfälschung der Geschichte, Heribert Illig, Econ 1996, ISBN 3-430-14953-3 (revised ed. 1998)
- Das Friedell-Lesebuch, Heribert Illig, C.H. Beck 1998, ISBN 3-406-32415-0
- Heribert Illig, with Franz Löhner: Der Bau der Cheopspyramide, Mantis 1998, ISBN 3-928852-17-5
- Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht?, Heribert Illig, Ullstein 2003, ISBN 3-548-36476-4
- Heribert Illig, with Gerhard Anwander: Bayern in der Phantomzeit. Archäologie widerlegt Urkunden des frühen Mittelalters., Mantis 2002, ISBN 3-928852-21-3
- Explanation of the "phantom time hypothesis" in English (pdf)
- Critique of Illig's hypothesis in English
- A short explanation of the "phantom time hypothesis"
- Brian Dunning - The Phantom Time Hypothesis at Skeptoid.com