Ever heard of the Phantom Time Hypothesis? It’s a conspiracy theory that most of the Early Middle Ages never happened, that nearly three hundred fake years were added to our history. As a result, we’re not about to see in 2015 at all. It’s actually only 1718.
I was meant to be writing a blog about the controversial Princess Diana conspiracy film Unlawful Killing this week. But since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought the Phantom Time Conspiracy would be more appropriate. Therefore I’m postponing the Unlawful Killing blog to next week.
So, tomorrow’s supposed to be the first day of 2015 – the year Marty McFly travels to the future. But all those fervent inventors trying to create hoverboards and flying cars in time for Back to the Future Part II’s October 21st deadline may have a reprieve.
Because it’s not 2015 at all.
AD 614 to 911 never happened
German historian Heribert Illig argues that all the years between AD 614 and 911 were fabricated. His idea stems from a mathematical argument about our calendar. Now, maths isn’t one of my strong points, but here goes…
In 46 BC, Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which was intended to match the solar year. This 12-month, 365-day year is very similar to ours, with a leap day added to February every four years. However, it didn’t match the solar year exactly – the solar year was actually a few minutes shorter, meaning that the Julian calendar would gain about three days every four centuries.
Okay, with me so far? This means that by 1582, the calendar year was 13 days longer than the solar year. 1582 is when Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar – the Gregorian calendar – to make up for the discrepancy. This is the calendar we still use today and has different leap day rules.
But Pope Gregory and his experts decided that in order to reset the calendar to match the solar year, we only needed to lose 10 days – not 13. Those three extra days equate to about three centuries. This means that if the Pope’s correct, there’s been a calculated effort to add three centuries to the AD era that never existed.
Who’s behind it?
Conspiracy theorists most commonly assert that Holy Roman Emperor Otto III was the mastermind behind the decision to fabricate three centuries of history. He wanted his reign to happen during 1000 AD so he could say he ruled during the first Christian millennium. But he had to falsify a lot of years of history to fill in the missing time.
To achieve this, Otto III invented Charlemagne or Charles the Great and his reign as King of the Franks, King of Italy and emperor of the Carolingian Empire in the late 700s, early 800s. Charles the Great heroically united most of Western Europe for the first time since the collapse of the Roman Empire, and spurred the Carolingian Renaissance. His enormous range of skills and achievements has led some people to believe that he is a mythical figure.
Other theories hold that Emperor Constantine VII of the Byzantine Empire or the Roman Catholic Church (not the first thing they’ve been accused of covering up) is responsible for the fabricated time.
Is this why the Dark Ages were… dark? Because they never existed?
The falsified three centuries fall within the period known as the Dark Ages. They’re called ‘dark’ because of the apparent stagnation in economic and intellectual development, and the lack of written records from the time. But perhaps the lack of development and documentary evidence is because the Dark Ages simply didn’t exist.
There’s also very limited archaeological evidence that can be dated to the period between 614 and 911 AD. The presence of Romanesque architecture in 10th century Western Europe has been used to suggest that the Roman era was not as long as we all thought.
The problem is, if Charles the Great and his dynasty never existed, it means that 300 years of history throughout the rest of Europe would have to have been fabricated as well, including Anglo-Saxon England. Historians find this hard to believe. Astronomical records and archaeological evidence that has been dated to the phantom centuries are other reasons why the historical community contests the Phantom Time Conspiracy. There’s also an explanation for the calendar problem. Apparently the Gregorian calendar was supposed to be in line with the Council of Nicaea’s proclamation in 325 AD about when Easter should occur, not the Julian calendar’s introduction in 46 AD.
It appears there’s no need to panic after all. Happy 2015!
Next week: I’m looking at 2011 Princess Diana documentary Unlawful Killing, a film that’s still banned in the UK.