The Phantom time hypothesis is a conspiracy theory developed in the 1980s and '90s by German publisher Heribert Illig (born 1947 in Vohenstrauß, Germany). The hypothesis proposes that periods of history, specifically that of Europe during the Early Middle Ages (AD 614–911), did not exist, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.
Basis of the hypothesis
The basis of Illig's hypothesis include:
- the scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period AD 614–911, on perceived inadequacies of radiometric and dendrochronological methods of dating this period, and on the over-reliance of medieval historians on written sources.
- the presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe. This is taken as evidence that less than half a millennium could have passed since the fall of the Roman Empire, and concludes that the entire Carolingian period, including the existence of the individual known as Charlemagne, is a forgery by medieval chroniclers, more precisely a conspiracy instigated by Otto III and Gerbert d'Aurillac.
- 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
There are several dating methods which contradict the hypothesis.
- Observations in ancient astronomy agree with current observations with no "phantom time" added, such as sightings of Halley's Comet. 
- Archeological remains and dating methods such as dendrochronology refute, rather than support, phantom time.
- Regarding the Gregorian reform: It was never intended to bring the calendar in line with the Julian calendar as it had existed in 45 BC, the time of its insitution, 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. The Gregorian reform was never intended or purported to restore the relationship between calendar date and astronomical equinox to what it had been at the time of the institution of the Julian calendar in 45 BC, 369 years before the council of Nicaea, when the astronomical vernal equinox took place around March 23. Illig's "three missing centuries" thus correspond to the period 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.
Debate on the issue
- 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
- ^ Heribert Illig Biography - Biography Base
- ^ 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.