Phantom-Time Thesis

The Thesis – pros and cons:
About twenty years ago, it became obvious that the existing chronology for the early middle-ages had turned out to be higly contradictory. Most confusing was the nearly complete missing of artifacts that could give testimony for the personalities and the events of this period.

With his Phantom-Time thesis, Heribert Illig has formulated a shocking explanation: The span of history between the years 614 and 911 does not reflect real times. Before and after, chronology were correct. The reported events and the acting persons were (generally) inventions from later epochs. A thousend years ago, the year-count of history were augmented by 297 years, together with a swap-over to anno domini (A.D., 'ab incarnatione domini') numbering. An all-embracing 'action' shall have taken care that all existing time marks were modified accordingly. Other authors claiming to be involved into the formulation of the thesis were H.-U. Niemitz and U. Topper.

Most regrettably, the term Phantom-time Thesis provides for some confusion: Not the physical Time is object of doubts, but the times mapped and reported by written history. Nevertheless, Phantom-time became a widely used term. Heribert Illig had to suffer a multitude of highly emotional attacks against his person. Fact-based objections were quite rare, because most scientists strictly refused to discuss the strange theme.

Criticism against the Phantom-time Thesis must be directed aginst the quite unlikely assertion of a huge conspiratory 'action' a thousand years ago, exchanging nearly all year numbers, while the practical use of such a waste of ressources remains obscure. In additon, the thesis can find no explanation for numerous events (e.g. babylonian eclipse reports; antique easter tablets) that were dated correctly,  i.e. with reference to C.E.-years (C.E. = common era).

The analysis of the chronology problem presented on these pages is based on the physical time (instead of the time-scale of history). Within the history of the Byzantine Empire identical persons and events can be identified over a span of three centuries that begin with the emperors Constantine and Heracleios respectively. For the realms of the occident, the situation turns out to be more complex: Events of the 9th century C.E. and their protagonists were, as astronomical records will confirm, in fact recorded under 7 (!) different epochs (proposed naming: A.D.-old, C.E., Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, Pippin I., II. and III.). They are filling more than four centuries of history (the 'times' of Merovingians and Carolingians). This now allows to explain all the observations quite easily: The year-numbers reported by the documents are referring 'just' to different epoch-years. Other than even many conservative historians must presume [e.g. H. Fuhrmann: 'Von der Wahrheit der Fälscher'; C. Faußner: 'Wibald v. Stablo'] most parchments were indeed not tampered. Events reported under more than one year-count, most likely have a true kernel and cannot be conceived after the millennium.

With the deliberate skip of the epoch-year in order to proceed to the deeply symbolic 'millennium', a new year-count mode arose aside of the original A.D.-count (that was used already by Bede in his history book). The question, how this was done may be postponed. In any case, there was no big 'action' required for the implementation. But, as it appears, the fact itself was unknown to the later compilators. As a consequence, many events were recorded against two epochs, so that they show up twice (or even more often) within the records. There is no time-span with fancifully fabricated history, but there are some reports of real events, disguising more than they reveal. While Illig does offer an explanation for double records only when these are close to its presumed discontinuouity, such events can be found quite frequently, reaching far back into Greek antiquity (see the tables). A not so pleasant consequence of these findings will be that a simple shift of time records will not be sufficient to restore the original sequence of events.

According to the philosopher Hegel, progress in science proceeds from a Thesis to its Antithesis and, eventually, to a Synthesis. It is the chance of an Antithesis, to challenge an apparent truth with the disclosure of contradictions. The formulation of an antithesis will rarely succeed to unveil the true facts. But with the antithesis only, the possibility arises, to perceive the truth.
It's the historical merit of Heribert Illig, to have identified the shortcomings of medieval chronology. He has shared his findings with the numerous readers of his books. Editor of the Zeitensprünge Bulletin (now in its 20th. year), he has promoted an extremely fruitful interdisciplinary cooperation. The author of these lines wants to express his wholehearted gratefulness to Illig, whose books led his attention onto the chronology problem and who made possible the publication of a number of his papers on chronology.

Mechanisms of Science:
How could it be that the problems within chronology did not find attention - even after they became thematized by Illig? Scientists are committed to research and academic teaching, in order to enhance the trusted knowledge of humanity. As they know, ad-hoc hypotheses (wich are the basis for all independent verifications of pre-medieval year numbers!) are not allowed [K. Popper], or should be, at least, well-founded as positive heuristics [I. Lakatos]. So why were the contradicions within chronology accepted, together with these hypotheses, when they inhibited a better understanding of our world? This may have to do with the phenomena that were analyzed by Dan Ariely in 'Predictably  Irrational': It can hurt to correct the own teaching. The same is true for the collegues within the scientific community. Generally, criticism should be confined to the own area of expertise. Troublemakers may feel sanctions. Criticism from the outside appears inacceptable, as it does not obey to these conventions. In addition, most scientists had to learn that 'discoveries' made by 'laymen' hardly ever withstand a thorough analysis - at the expense of the professional researchers time, however. Under these conditions, the acceptance of erraneous ideas becomes higly unlikely. Unfortunately, valuable findings contradicting a paradigm will be blocked, too. Only the ongoing erosion of the paradigm may, eventually, allow a reorientation of the scientific community.

A brief comment about the most radical criticism against Chronology:
Ex falso quod libet (i.e. garbage in - garbage out). In practice this means: With a faulty premise, the outcome even of carful investigations will necessarily be the subjectively 'most plausible' explanation. Of course, it will depend on the individual background, the available informations and their weighting, what shall be considerted most plausible. As a consequence of the obvious contradictions they found within our chronology, some researchers came to the conclusion that written history as a whole must have been faked, most likely within the renaissance epoch. The main argument against this sight is again: There is no conclusive reason for such a huge effort. With respect to the many eclipse reports that may be retrocalculated with a shift of some 300 years, this sight becomes completely remote: It would have to assume two separate conspiracies. A first, to fabricate a written history, based on retrocalculated data. Then a second conspiracy had to take place, to shift these record by three centuries. The probability for a doublet of conspiracies is exeedingly low. In other words: This idea can be rejected - definitely.

HEK 12/08
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