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Phantom Time Hypothesis

14 October 2017
Ancient history

This is described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_time_hypothesis … the Phantom Time Hypothesis was first published by Heribert Illig in 1991. It proposes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII, in order to fabricate the anno domini dating system retrospectively, so that it placed them in the year 1000AD. It was, in effect, a re-write of history. Why? Did Otto want to be around at the turn of the millennium because he thought this was when Christ was going to return? May be. One thing is clear is that at that point in time only the elite were literate – but not all of them were too literate. Many were brought up to learn military skills rather than book worm skills so there was a heavy emphasis on scribes – and bookish monks in monasteries. The Church had a monopoly on the written word – and they could do anything with history without the great mass of people having any idea of what was going on. It is therefore feasible that a small clique could have conspired to redate the year 1000AD – but what of those not involved in the conspiracy. Would they have kept their mouth shut?

Heribert Illig was born in 1947 and after reading Velikovsky (in the 1970s) he became involved in a Velikovskian inspired organisation dedicated to researching catastrophism and historical revisions (much like SIS in the UK and Pensee and Kronos in the States). He was a product of his time as a lot of university students in the western world were influenced by Velikovsky's ideas at that time. SIS, for example, was given birth in 1974. From 1989 to 1994 Illig was active in the journal Verzeit-Fruzheit-Gegenwart. Since 1995 he has worked as a publisher and author in his own publishing company, Mantis-Verlag, and has published his own journal, Zeitensprunge. Prior to focusing on an AD revision Illig published various proposals for earlier revisions of chronology – along Velikovskian lines. His proposals received prominent coverage in German popular media in the 1990s. This situation contrasts sharply with the UK where the scholarly elite have kept a tight rein on back sliders and heretics. Mostly this amounts to studiously ignoring the idea of a revision of history – and the same is largely true in the States where there was counter Velikovsky movement to rubbish his ideas by concentrating on those that were over the top and avoiding any mention of the more viable discrepancies in the historical record. In the course of time the popular media in Germany fell back in line with establishment scholars and Illig is now regarded as a pseudo-historian – to be avoided. No surprise there as it is a means to close down a debate and bring it to a halt before a new batch of students develops heretical tendencies. While I was typing this out my wife was watching a historical programme on Elizabeth I (the |Tudors) and she asked me why all the presenters in such TV programmes had a plum in their mouth (well spoken and from the elite side of the population). History has been written by the elite for the elite as historically only the elite have been interested in these things. There is virtually no history of the ordinary folk as they were unable to write it down – and if they did they would not have got it published. It is only after the 17th century that ordinary folk begin to play a role in written history (and in religious affairs) but the elite still have control of the microphone, even if they may not be toffs as such but simply university engineered historians. One result of this is that historians rely a lot on surviving written documents – easily accessible to desk bound academics (and only they have a hands on access to them). I recently read an amusing book by NJ Harper, 'Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries' (available at Amazon and other book sellers) which is a wind up of a scholarly work of the same title, and takes a cynical look at the conclusions by the academic and suggests that many ancient texts of the Anglo Saxon era were actually written in the 12th century or later, and provides reasons why this may have been so. He  claims that pilgrims were big business in the high Middle Ages and different religious establishments vied to attract them and the monies they produced that kept their monasteries, churches, and cathedrals thriving and in good repair etc. It is thought provoking as we actually have a clear record of this occurring at St Albans abbey, the new town of St Albans being laid out deliberately to way lay pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Saint Alban, England's purported first martyr. If it could have happened at St Albans it could also have happened at Canterbury, the premier focus of pilgrims in Britain, Kells in Ireland, Lindisfarne in Northumbria, Iona in Scotland and Llandaff (Cardiff)  and Llandeilo in Wales – even St Davids is brought into the picture by Harper as it stands at the port from where the Anglo Normans set sail to establish the Pale settlement in Ireland, and remained their major supply point thereafter.

Attracting pilgrims was big business in Europe as well as in Britain and Ireland – and we have all sorts of tales about missionaries from Ireland and Britain bringing Christianity to the elite in control of barbarian ruling dynasts, much as we have the tale of St Augustine in England. The latter is a rather obscure figure – except in England. If Augustine is a questionable character, as Harper intimates in a rather cheeky manner, this might explain why Christianity in England (inherited from the Romans) has been airbrushed out of our national historical narrative, in the post-Roman era, even though Gildas in the 6th century seems to indicate it remained a strong force (he even mentions a shrine at St Albans). Bede, who is closely bound up with the Augustine version of Christianity, also mentions a shrine (and church) at St Albans in the 7th century, and Offa of Mercia, a hundred years later, repeats the same, lolling out royal patronage and monies to create what became the abbey. It seems very likely that Christianity existed from the 3rd century to the 7th century, and 400 years of its history was deleted as a result of accommodating Augustine as the primary saint at Canterbury (and therefore of England). Is that not a conspiracy?

Illig of course was not concerned with pilgrims and the various schemes that religious establishments invented to get people to part with their loose change as well as wads of bigger dosh (from the posher variety of pilgrim), as described in an amusing way by Geoffrey Chaucer in his 'Canterbury Tales' – written in the 13th century. Illig, instead, pointed a finger at the dearth of archaeology in the 5th and 6th centuries, in what was formerly known as the post-Roman dark age (and exists right across northern Europe, in one way or another). One reason for this is that Late Roman archaeology might be misaligned and moving it forwards would fill in the gaps – but there is of course resistance to this as the academics and their texts rule the roost and archaeologists, who are supposed to provide the evidence to support documentation, are loathe to upset the applecart. Nowadays it is fashionable to claim there is not a dark age (around 150 years rather than the 300 years of Illig) and this idea is fostered by filling in at the edges in an attempt to assign something archaeological to the gap. Reducing the dark age by attributing material that may belong to Late Roman or Saxon periods in the void is a bit like polyfilla – getting rid of a hole in wall plaster. In spite of this many archaeologists and historians are pleased as punch – and go so far as to deny there is a dark age, renaming the period to reflect their reappraisal of the data. However, in spite of that most books on the post-Roman period will openly say there is a dearth of material in post-Roman archaeology, and one way to remedy this would be to throw a bucket load of stuff from the Late Roman period into the void (a re-attribution of the archaeology in other words). Illig also criticises the dendrochronology and radiometric dating methodologies – much as some people have done in past issues of SIS journals. As time has progressed and dating methodologies have improved this criticism seems less likely – especially when it comes to a 300 year AD revision (let alone the 700 years favoured by Gunnar Heinsohn and his pals). Most internet sources on the Phantom Time hypothesis are critical of the theory – and you would have to read the publications he was associated with to get a full handle on the issue. It is not enough just to swallow the establishment line. As Harper says, there are academic specialists in Anglo Saxon history – would they vote themselves out of a job? Why would they agree that such early texts as the Augustine Gospel is a 12th century in origin (which would imply the A/S land charters were inserted in order to establish church land holdings much later). It would mean that the Anglo Saxons of Bede were an elite – who had taken over former kingdoms and estates, and had nothing to do with an actual grand invasion by hordes from the other side of the North Sea. In other words, land charters were a much later phenomenon, invaluable no doubt to A/S academic historians but practably not self evident. Another ingrained idea is that the open field system in lowland England was introduced by the newcomers when in fact it is likely to be a phenomenon associated with the introduction of a feudal system by the Norman conquerors. I became aware of this at a recent conference where some chap, even though he had spent years researching the subject, was unable to put his name as a co-author to a recent book on the subject. The publishing author kept to the mainstream line – but the recalcitrant decided he could not in full conscience do that and withdrew his name as a co-author as he could find no evidence they went back any further than the 11th or 12th century.*

Illig tuned into a very real archaeological problem – and decided there was a gap in the chronology rather than opt for an adjustment in archaeological chronology. The situation at St Albans is interesting in this respect. Shepherd Frere claimed to have found a Late Roman level which was not apparent at other British Roman sites such as Silchester for example. Archaeologists found it odd that only St Albans had this Late Roman level even though there is plenty of evidence that the city of Verulamium was in occupation long after the Romans left (as Gildas and Bede imply this was so). Hence, Shephere Frere's Late Roman phase was not out of sync with textual evidence – or so it would seem. The problem is that large amounts of the top levels at Verulamium have suffered from agricultural damage and the robbing of stone over the centuries, and archaeologists have assumed Frere must have been wrong. This is exemplified in a recent article in Current Archaeology where it has been proposed Frere's level should be down dated in order to fit in with evidence at other Roman sites. One could equally argue that other Roman sites should rather be aligned with Frere's dates – but there is considerable resistance to this. It's very complicated as it involved Roman coins and pottery sequences and would involve a complete re-assessment of what has become firmly established into the system.

Illig has also pointed a finger at archaeological oddities on the continent, such as the appearance of Romanesque architecture in the Medieval period – architecture that bears a resemblance to Roman architecture. In fact, this was one of his better anomalies which has also been used by Heinsohn in his later revised AD chronology. He also pointed a sceptical finger at eclipse data from the Roman era that didn't seem to fit in with the mainstream chronology, and less successfully, with the Gregorian calendar reform. The latter was put to bed a long time ago and Illig has obvious problems with Tang China and the Arab empire of the same period, contemporaries of Carolingian France (and therefore of Offa's Mercian kingdom). One can argue they don't exist but we know from textual sources that Offa was responsible for establishing a monastery/ abbey at St Albans, that Offa was the contemporary of Charlemagne, and that Offa also connived at putting his own candidate in as archbishop of Canterbury. This sort of tends to tame the conspiracy theory – or reduce the timescale of an AD revision (shall we  say to the 150 year dark age in archaeology). Perhaps that is all that is required. See also www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/volatile/Niemitz-1997.pdf for an outline of the phantom time hypothesis as described by Niemitz, who was a supporter of Illig's scheme.

See also www.ufoinsight.com/phantom-time-hypothesis-legitimate/ …which is amazing what you can pick up on the Net simply by putting a question into your preferred search engine. As the site name says, this is a site dedicated to UFOs, and yet it is critical of Illig's proposal. The cheek. Forgeries of texts have also played a role in the Phantom Time hypothesis – see for example www.damninteresting.com/the-phantom-time-hypothesis … whereas Harper's idea was that forgeries were made in order to attract the lucrative pilgrim trade to religious sites across Europe (north of the Alps) he doesn't appear to think time itself is out (or at least never mentions revising history in that way). Niemitz, on the other hand, and therefore Illig by association, Claimed Otto III wanted his reign to coincide with 1000AD (probably in order to rule over a great chunk of continental Europe at a date then connected with Biblical prophecies in the Book of Revelations. See also https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4332

* archaeology in lowland England (the eastern side of the country) is in sync with the near continent but not necessarily in sync with western Britain and Ireland, the Celtic side of the country.


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