The strangest item for today is this: a claim that 297 years of human history were faked to make some historical powerful people more powerful. The phantom time hypothesis says that the years AD 614–911 were invented with document forgeries during a change of calendars.
… the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication …
As the Steely Dan song says, “Get along kid Charlemagne.” Okay, that song has nothing to do with this odd theory, but it started playing in my mind as I considered the name Charlemagne. Wikipedia has quite a long page on this guy. He lived from April 2, 742 to January 28, 814, within the time range that may have never existed.
Could he be a made up character?
If that were the case, his children could not exist. It would mean there was no Pepin the Hunchback, and no Carloman, made king of Italy, no Louis the Pious (778 – 20 June 840) King of the Franks and King of Aquitaine. If Louis the Pious was invented, so were his sons and daughters. Two of them were kings, Lothair (795–855), king of Middle Francia and Pepin (797–838), king of Aquitaine. If there was no Lothair I, then he could not have had his son Louis II (825–875) called “the Younger” crowned as King of Italy in 844 and Crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 850. If there was no Louis II, his daughter could not have existed, Ermengard of Italy, who could have never had her son, Louis the Blind (c. 880 – 5 June 928) who was the king of Provence, and he could have never had his son, Charles-Constantine, who became Count of Vienne … I think you see my point.
That’s a lot of work to invent and what about people living after the year 911 AD who were descended from people living in the supposedly invented time period?
Nevertheless, based on the study of many historical documents, a German historian, Heribert Illig, concluded that a period of 297 years from the 8th to the 11th centuries contains too many inconsistent and vague events, as if they were simply made up.
There are irrefutable documents indicating the loss of three centuries. … the grandiose construction in Constantinople of that period was for some reason abruptly suspended … for three centuries and then suddenly resumed. Exactly the same absurdity can be traced when building the Aachen Cathedral in Germany.
… The phantom time hypothesis is a theory asserted by Heribert Illig and first published in 1991. It hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retrospectively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history to legitimize Otto’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire.
Heribert Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence. According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a “phantom time” of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages.
So it is quite possible that we live in 1722, and not in 2019.
According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a “phantom time” of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages. The proposal has been universally rejected by mainstream historians.
Countering the “missing chunk of history” theory, critics say well documented ancient astronomical events would be hard to reconcile if 297 years were fabricated. We know when eclipses occurred before the supposed fake time and we know when they happened after and there does not appear to be a break in the record. The same with observations of Halley’s Comet, the Wikipedia entry on phantom time states.
The most difficult challenge to the theory is through observations in ancient astronomy, especially those of solar eclipses cited by European sources prior to 600 AD (when phantom time would have distorted the chronology). Besides several others that are perhaps too vague to disprove the phantom time hypothesis, two in particular are dated with enough precision to disprove the hypothesis with a high degree of certainty.
One is reported by Pliny the Elder in 59 AD and one by Photius in 418 AD. Both of these dates and times have confirmed eclipses. In addition, observations during the Tang dynasty in China, and Halley’s Comet, for example, are consistent with current astronomy with no “phantom time” added.
Read more Wikipedia
Having now heard the theory of phantom time, we can keep watch for inconsistencies that weigh in favor or against there being 297 years that never really happened. At this time I favor the conservative view that this chunk of history was not invented, but it’s an awesome strange claim and I enjoyed considering it.
Update: A study of the bones of Charlemagne concluded that it was indeed him.
Charlemagne’s bones are (probably) real
One of the scientists studying the remains, Professor Frank Rühli, said: “Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne.”
From studying the dimensions of the upper arm, thigh and shin bones, scientists have built up a picture of the man behind the skeleton, and it matches descriptions of Charlemagne.
At 1.84 metres (six feet), he was unusually tall for his time. The team also estimated his weight at around 78 kilograms, giving him a slim body mass index of around 23.
More evidence that this is indeed the year 2019, for a few more days at least.