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
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
claiming to be involved into the formulation of the thesis were H.-U.
Niemitz and U. Topper.
Most regrettably, the term Phantom-time Thesis
some confusion: Not the physical Time
is object of doubts, but
mapped and reported by written history.
became a widely used term. Heribert
Illig had to suffer a multitude of highly emotional attacks against his
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
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
A.D.-count (that was used already by Bede in his history book). The
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
According to the philosopher Hegel
, progress in science
proceeds from a Thesis
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
(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
': 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'
course, it will depend on the individual background, the available
informations and their weighting, what shall be considerted most
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
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.