Illig's Hypothesis on Phantom Times - FAQ
(30 questions about chronology)

by Jan Beaufort (Würzburg)


1. What means Chronology?

2. What's the use of a Calendar?

3. What is an Era?

4. What are relative and absolute Chronologies?

5. What means BP-dating?

6. What are the approaches for criticism against chronology?

7. Who is Heribert Illig?

8. Who was Immanuel Velikovsky?

9. What are the intentions of the Hypothesis on Phantom Times (PhTH)?

10. What made Illig formulate the Hypothesis of a medieval Phantom Time (PhT)?

11. Why did Illig estimate the length of the PhT in a first approximation to cover some 300 years?

12. Why did Illig redefine the PhT in a second step to cover the period between 614 and 911 AD?

13. Is it possible to eliminate Charlemagne from history?

14. Is the phenomenon of a deliberate extension of Chronology new for historians?

15. Is the PhTH claiming that the deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology would be the product of a worldwide conspiracy?

16. How else did the deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology emerge - according to the PhTH?

17. Is the assumption justified, Constantine VII. Porphyrogennetos has been the mastermind of a deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology?

18. Is it imaginable that a counterfeited medieval chronicle should mark the origin of a never detected calendar error, who, eventually, found its way into all the history books and calendars worldwide?

19. Does not the written history of the Arab world disprove the PhTH?

20. Does not the Islamic calendar start in the year 622 AD, with the Hijra of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina?

21. Even if we assume the possibility of a faked chronology, what could have been the motivation behind?

22. Even if a plausible motivation for the Arab world could be found, why should Byzantium and the Latin countries of the Occident adopt this extension of chronology?

23. Did not Dionysius Exiguus establish the Christian Era of our calendar during the 6th century AD?

24. What about the rest of the world? Surely, dark ages will not be found everywhere?

25. Isn't it possible to disprove the PhTH using computerized astronomical retro calculations?

26. Will not scientific dating methods like C14 and Dendrochronology prove the absurdity of the PhTH?

27. Should not the huge fraud according to the PhTH have left traces everywhere?

28. Are there really no traces from the "biggest chronological forgery within history" (Illig)? This would be unthinkable, wouldn't it?

29. Should nobody have ever discovered this fraud? Genealogies and even biographies of single persons were interrupted by the PhT - this must have been acknowledged by someone?

30. Last question: Is it true that so many forgeries were done within the middle-ages? Or is this just an insinuation of the proponents of the PhTH? Isn't it virtually impossible that all written documents from the Carolingian era were counterfeited?


1. What means Chronology?

Chronology is the science investigating how the societies of this world are structuring and measuring the flow of time, and how they did in the past. In addition, this science analyses how a most useful structure may be found with respect to various purposes. [Ideler I 5 f.] Mathematical and astronomical basics of time determination are the object of the Astronomical Chronology. Their use by the humans from various civilizations and periods of history is investigated by the Historical Chronology. The latter is an auxiliary science for historians [von Brandt 30]

Chronology differentiates between three types of time structure:

Cosmic motions and rhythms define a structure for time, defining the base for the two artificial systems of order. We may call both of these systems "calendar" or "calendar order". However, the original meaning of the word calendar addresses the order within the year that repeats cyclically. The second linear order will be called calculation of years or era.

2. What's the use of a Calendar?

The word "calendar" comes from the Latin calendarium and was originally the name of a booklet used by the Romans to keep track of accumulated interest claims with respect to calendis, the beginning of the month. A calendar establishes a new, arificial structure of time, based on the cosmic cycles. This structure is referring to day, lunar month and solar year and reorders them in a way that may deviate from the order of nature or, at least, finds no equivalent in this order. It's this deviation, that establishes the usefulness of the calendat for social and, especially, for religious purposes.

Although the length of the astronomical solar year remains constant, the artificial year is counting 365 or 366 days. Our deliberately set month has been untied from the natural lunar cycle and, typically, takes an additional day as compared to the latter. So the seven days of the week match approximately a quarter of a lunar cycle. The day has been structured by the artificial units Hour, Minute and Second, that have no counterpart in nature.

The calendar (in this restricted context of a cyclic order) is the basis for the dates of religious feasts. The cycles for Christmas and Easter refer to the solar and the lunar calendar. The slow secular drift of the calendar's computed date of Easter eventually led to the Gregorian readjustment of the calendar. [see question 11]

3. What is an Era?

The progressive count of years as a linear principle of order may be separated from the cyclical structure of the calendar. The counting of years (as Era or chronology) establishes a linear order, starting at a deliberately selected moment, counting the years proceeding or in reversed order. In our Christian year count, this moment has been identified with the birth of Christ. A year number 'zero' is missing, because this number was not known within antiquity. Therefore the year 1 BC has been followed by the year 1 AD.

One might presume that counting of years should be a natural and not an artificial order, as just the Earth's orbits around the Sun are counted. As the Earth's orbits are a natural process, the same should be valid for the count of them. So, counting the number of orbits, we would do essentially the same of what we do counting the tree-rings of a cut-down tree: We just write down a factual situation within nature. But things are not that simple. We may find a calendar of the ancient Egyptians, counting the solar year with 365 days (ignoring leap years). Skipping a quarter of a day every year, this Egyptian year will drift with respect to the solar year. An even larger drift will be found for the calendar of the Islam that ignores the solar year. So the Islamic year counts 12 lunar months, leaving a difference of some 11 days against the solar year. [about Islamic time see questions 4, 20, 28 and 29]

These examples show that the counting of years brings no structure to astronomical events. It just brings order to calendar years. By consequence, the existence of the calendar - the artificial cyclical order - will be presupposed. The year-count itself remains an artificial construct. Whenever a new year-count system was established, this was not to support astronomical purposes. It was done to remember important historical events and to match them with other such events. Consolidation into a chronologically structured history was mostly done in the pursuit of political and religious motivations.

Criticism of chronology, as it will be addressed here, is essentially the critical review of the various systems of year counting, including the Christian one.

4. What are relative and absolute Chronologies?

The, possibly, oldest and most widely used method to engrave important events into collective memory has been the attribution to the leader's years of reign. “In the 5th year of Pharaoh Amenophis”, “in the 10th year of great king Xerxes”, “in the 18th year of Jerobeam" (2 Chr. 13, 1), the texts will tell us. In Luke 3,1-2 we read: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

This kind of reports, whenever and by whom they were written, being real or fiction, allows to order the reported events in relation to one or more rulers. In this way, they allow to build up so called relative chronologies. These relative chronologies may be extended by using, for example, lists of kings or other documents, that allow to reconstruct the row of subsequent rulers.

A chronology will be called absolute, when the sequence of years can be maintained referring to a single starting date. Our Christian year counting system is such an absolute chronology. [see questions 22 and 23] The same is true for the year count of the Islam, that starts with the Hijra, Muhammad's flight from Mecca, that has been dated into the year 622 AD. [see question 20]

Other examples are the Seleucid Era, starting in 312 BC, that has been used frequently by the early astronomers, or the ancient Roman year count ab urbe condita, starting with the legendary foundation of Rome in the year 753 BC. Then there was the Era of Diocletian, that began in 284 AD and had been adopted by early Christian authors. Today, it is still in use within the church of the Copts. [see question 23] Likewise important are the various World-Eras, the reference of Jewish, Christian and Byzantine writers, that started with the presumed creation date of the world. An early Christian World-Era - the one that can be found in the texts of Eusebius and Orosius, but there are more of these Eras - dated the birth of Christ into the 5199th year following the genesis. [Ideler II 430, WU 134 f.]

Another Era, introduced for scientific purposes, is the Era Nabonassar, starting in 747 BC. It had been used within the Almagest of Claudius Ptolemy.

Aside from these conventionally used absolute chronologies, modern BP-dating should be mentioned, establishing an absolute chronology, that counts the years backwards, starting in 1950 AD. [see question 5]

When the possible errors within the traditional year count will be addressed below, the highly complex interaction of these relative and absolute chronologies will come into focus.

5. What means BP-dating?

BP means before present. This method of dating will be used for scientific dating (C14 and dendrochronology [see question 26], astronomical retro calculations [see question 25], and others). The BP-scale starts in the year 1950 and counts backwards. The year 1500 AD, for example, corresponds to 450 BP. The advantage of BP-dating is obvious: It allows a direct linkage to presence together with invariable year values. Under a critical scientific view, the transition from BP-age to the common AD-dates is a separate step that needs to be legitimized.

Deviating from the traditional assignment between BP- and AD-dates, the hypothesis of a medieval phantom time, conceived by Heribert Illig [see questions 7 and 9 ff.], implies the equivalence 614 AD = 911 AD = 1039 BP. Direct consequences are 613 AD = 1040 BP, 590 AD (year of a solar eclipse observed by Gregory from Tours [see question 12]) = 1063 BP, 1 AD = 1652 BP, 1 BC (= birth of Christ) = 1653 BP.

6. What are the approaches for criticism against chronology?

There are several approaches of criticism to be named here. This may give rise to the impression of a prevailing arbitrariness. It may be a reason for historians to avoid the discourse with the proponents of a critical novel view on chronology. Doing so, they may forget that the same objection may be used against conventional chronology. [see question 14] For both traditional and critical chronology the borderlines between science and creed tend to be blurred quite often.

A number of recent attempts of critical reconstruction shall be addressed here:

7. Who is Heribert Illig?

Heribert Illig, born in 1947, holds a doctorate in German language and literature studies. For many years he worked as a systems analyst. Eventually he became publisher and owner of the Mantis Verlag as well as editor of the journal Zeitensprünge (1989 until 1994 named Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart). Books and journal are devoted to scientific research on chronology issues. [see question 6] Focus of the publications is laid on the hypotheses about possible phantom times according to Heinsohn and Illig [6 (c)] and on Illig's theory of medieval chronology. The criticism shall allow to disclose and reconstruct another presumed history that had been overlaid by traditional history. The journal Zeitensprünge (ZS) is providing a basis for the publications of a group of scientists from various fields of work addressing questions of chronology. Group traditions are based on the works of Immanuel Velikovskys. [see question 8]

8. Who was Immanuel Velikovsky?

Velikovsky (1895-1979) was a medical doctor and psychoanalyst, scholar of Wilhelm Stekel. Well-known books are Worlds in Collision (1950), Earth in Upheaval (1956), Oedipus and Echnaton and Peoples of the Sea. Velikovsky became particularly famous for two of his hypotheses:

American and British addicts of Velikovsky, as well as the Post-Akademische Forum (PAF) founded by Christoph Marx, the translator of Velikovsky's books [see question 6 (g)], are concerned predominantly with Velikovsky's theory of catastrophism. The group around Heinsohn and Illig - in the meantime widely independent from Velikovsky's point of view - is focusing onto the problems of chronology.

9. What are the intentions of the Hypothesis on Phantom Times (PhTH)?

The PhTH is based on the hypothesis of Heribert Illig that the so called early middle-ages were a period exclusively existing within the text-books of history, without having an equivalent in real physical time. Events, persons, social progress and developments, texts, buildings and all other material artefacts were dated a posteriori into this period. As a hypothesis for practical work, Illig confines the Phantomzeit (phantom times - a term coined by Hans-Ulrich Niemitz) to the years between 614 and 911 AD.

The PhTH tries to explain the deliberate extension of chronology implied by the Phantomzeitthese, and to reconstruct the events that led to the present situation.

10. What made Illig formulate the Hypothesis of a medieval Phantom Time (PhT)?

Illig had been sensibilized for the problems of chronology by his work about Velikovsky. So the presumption that the chronology of the dark middle-ages might be corrupted likewise was pretty close with this background. Two observations led to a first break-through for the PhTH:

(a) The legend of Sylvester, concerning the baptism of Constantine, shall have emerged in the 4th century and became effective in the 8th;
(b) The Symachian forgeries emerged around 500 AD and became effective in the 11th century;
(c) The donation of Constantine emerged about 750, became effective in the 11th century;
(d) The Decretals or Pseudo-Isidorian Forgeries emerged in the 9th and became effective in the 11th century. [Fuhrmann (1986)]

The traditional historian can offer no solution for the phenomenon of anticipative forgeries. There is just the explanation that something essential has been mixed-up within the history of the middle-ages. Said congress of the MGH on forgeries within the middle-ages had focused on the masses of medieval counterfeit (well-documented over six volumes [FM - see question 27 and 30]). It would have been the consequent next step to assume that chronology itself had been submitted to forgery. But the historians, being caught in their traditional thinking, were not able to see this consequence. So this decisive step to overcome the conventional view on medieval history has been left to a 'Velikovskyan' like Illig.

11. Why did Illig estimate the length of the PhT in a first approximation to cover some 300 years?

Illig has found a number of fundamental arguments in the written history, in archaeology and in the history of architecture of the early middle-ages. [see questions 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, 28 and 30]

An important argument for the tentative length of about 300 years was found, when Illig reviewed the prerequisites of the Gregorian reform of the calendar. It is well known that the old Julian calendar was too slow. By the end of the 16th century, the date of the spring equinox had receded to the 10th of march.

Essentially, Gregory's reform implied two separate corrections: First, the calendar was accelerated by the decree to skip some leap years in the future, to speed-up by one day every 133 years. This indicates the necessary acceleration. The second measure was the leap over ten days, in order to set the spring equinox back to March 21st, the date that had been used traditionally for the computus ecclesiasticus, the calculation of the date of Easter. So in 1582, October 4th was immediately followed by October 15th.

Based on these two corrections, one may derive approximately (ceteris paribus) the time when the calendar's equinox had been set on March 21st for the Julian calendar. It must have been some 1300 (i.e. 10 x 133) years before the reform of Gregory XIII. In his Inter Gravissimas bull Gregory comments this situation: The reform should restore the calendar to the state it had when the Council of Nicaea was held in 325 AD. However, there is nothing indicating that the calendar had been synchronized with the equinox at this council.

Due to these facts and some more (Sun dial of Augustus, Roman spring following Alexandrian tradition), Illig assumes that March 21st had marked the beginning of spring since the introduction of the Julian calendar in 45 BC. However, this means that thereafter some 300 excess years were counted. [WU 13-64]

12. Why did Illig redefine the PhT in a second step to cover the period between 614 and 911 AD?

A distinct hypothesis may possibly be falsified easily. A vaguely estimated length of the PhT or no specific value at all would dilute this theory. The specific value of 297 years asks supporters and adversaries for a clear position. The course of history has taken this way or another. If Illig's hypothesis is wrong, the PhT must have been longer or shorter and the hypothesis needs to be corrected accordingly. It makes no difference, when another start or end of the PhT should be found for various regions with deviating historical and chronological traditions. In such a case, the concise formulation of Illig's hypothesis enforces the discussion of the differences.

The general restriction of the PhT onto the 7th, 8th and 9th century is enforced by architecture. Buildings from the lifetime of Justinian or the Ottonian emperors are still existing and cannot be disputed away. Only a small number of buildings - from India to Iceland - can be dated in the time between. However, these buildings have no special characteristics that would allow to determine the year of construction beyond all doubts. [see question 24]

The 'fine tuning' follows from these considerations: For two reasons Illig thinks that the PhT began in 614 AD: First, this is the year when Byzantium lost Jerusalem and the Holy Cross to Persia. This appears real, because Persian dominance had increased dramatically under king Chosrau II. Quite unlikely were the suddenly reported victories of Byzantium, including the reconquest of the Holy Cross that, nevertheless, was lost forever in 637 AD.

The second reason is bound to the Merowingan king Chlothar II, who had just survived all his relatives in 613 AD. In the following year he had to accept that in Paris the nobility persisted on privileges that started to became common within the 10th century. Illig presumes that this rebellion of the nobility in western France has installed the rule of the Carolingian Major Domus, which continued for 80 more years after 911. So Konrad I (911-918) may have been the 'last Merowingan' in the eastern kingdom of the Franks.

Illig's argument for the year 911 as the endpoint of the PhT is the obviously real treaty between the Viking duke Rollo and Charles 'the Simple' in this year, which acknowledged the possession of Normandy by the Normans. Without this treaty, today, this region would carry another name. The transition of the power over the eastern kingdom onto the Saxons must have been real history too. This transition did happen in 918 in an unusual but plausible way when Konrad I had died. So one may conclude that Konrad, who was crowned in 911, was a real protagonist of history. [WU 77 ff.]

The length of exactly 297 years will be confirmed by a solar eclipse report of Gregory from Tours. As retro calculation shows, an appropriate eclipse did not happen in 590 AD (= 1360 BP) but in 1063 BP. [WU 144 ff.]

13. Is it possible to eliminate Charlemagne from history?

It's not simple, of course. But there are very, very many strange tales around the great Charles, in combination with a wealth of problems. Here comes a selection:

The dear reader may refer to Illig's books Das erfundene Mittelalter (The fabricated Middle-ages) and Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht? (Who has reset the clock?). He may find out that the above list does just comprise a small selection of the most impressive amount of problems and strange tales referring to Charlemagne.

14. Is the phenomenon of a deliberate extension of Chronology new for historians?

Not at all. Deliberate expansions of chronology are well-known to historians. The best example is the lengthening of Egyptian history by the Archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, who is seen as the father of modern Archaeology. He dated the first dynasty of Egyptian kings into the 6th millennium BC. Today's Egyptologists prefer to date this dynasty some 2500 years later, following the proposal of Eduard Meyer. This is a chronological leap of two and a half millennia! [Birken 222]

Another example for a debate on chronology within conservative history is the discussion concerning a short, medium or long duration of the middle Bronce-age that presently is held by Orientalists, Egyptologists and Archaeologists. Here we have chronological leaps with a total of some 200 years.

15. Is the PhTH claiming that the deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology would be the product of a worldwide conspiracy?

Of course not. Such a claim is an imputation of their antagonists. This is a disinformation that has been distributed across many news-groups (e.g. by Tilmann Chladek, editor for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik DGAP). The massively distorted presentation of Illig's hypothesis can be found on Chladek's Homepage []). Illig's own view will be found below.

16. How else did the deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology emerge - according to the PhTH?

Illig's tentative hypothesis, laid down in his book Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht? assumes that the medieval PhT did show up for the first time in the history books of the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes. The second volume of this chronicle - called the Theophanes Continuatus - has as a co-author the Romean emperor Constantinos VII Porphyrogennetos (906-959). Illig presumes that the first volume has been compiled, too, by the Porphyrogennete (tradition assigns this text to the otherwise unknown Theophanes Confessor). For nearly three centuries of Byzantine History, the chronicle of Theophanes is our most important, for some parts our only source of information. [ref. Runciman 294 f.; see questions 17, 18, 22, 27, 28 and 29]

17. Is the assumption justified, Constantine VII. Porphyrogennetos has been the mastermind of a deliberate extension of the medieval Chronology?

Historians know about the forgeries of Constantine. [Norwich II 78]. Whether he might have forged chronology, too, is a question that was not discussed by historians, so far. However, it is well-known that Constantine engaged numerous scientists to check all fields of knowledge and to collect their results within a large encyclopaedia.

Moreover, historians know that the chroniclers from Byzantium suddenly (an exact date is not known) began to date historical events no more with respect to the Seleucid era (312 BC), but instead according to the World-era (from the beginning of the world). [see question 4] Illig presumes that this transition took place under Constantine, in order to conceal the artificial extension of chronology.

Finally, historians know that, with very few exemptions, all the Greek manuscripts written in Majuscula letters are missing. Many of them had been transcripted into Minuscula or excerpted and were probably scrapped thereafter. Byzantinists assume that the patriarch Photios had begun with transcription during the 9th century. It is certain that this continued during the reign of Constantine. [Erbse 243 f.] Illig assumes that Constantine has been responsible for the complete action. [WU 165 ff.]

In this muddle of events that can be hardly understood or enlightened, taking place under the command of a forging emperor, the preparation of a chronology with freely invented events and ages appears quite plausible. [see questions 16 and 29] There is no proof, but a well-founded suspicion, and it makes sense to continue investigation.

18. Is it imaginable that a counterfeited medieval chronicle should mark the origin of a never detected calendar error, who, eventually, found its way into all the history books and calendars worldwide?

This question aims towards 'Meta-history', asking for the history of historical records. What kind of texts presented authority, and when? Which were the authors and authorities the historians of the past times did refer to? What kind of historical traditions and tales were transported from one generation to the next? How did they influence the world-chronologies of Justus Scaliger and Dionysius Petavius, which consolidated the view on ancient history?

Byzantinists like Cyril Mango - the editor of an English translation of Theophanes Confessor [Mango/Scott] - or Hans-Georg Beck are emphasizing the great respect that Theophanes has found within the Latin west. [see question 16] In this context, Beck argues with the canonical character of Theophanes' chronicle. [Beck 436]

The authority that Theophanes had won in the West can be understood easily: Constantinople was the centre of the 10th centuries culture. Only here a continuous historical tradition did exist, directly joining Greek and Roman antiquity with the Byzantinean middle-ages. In contrast to this, the west had suffered under the political and cultural break-down of the empire and the hammer-strokes of illiterate barbarian aggressors. [Fuhrmann (1994)]

Western civilization within the 10th century remained quite primitive - after the surprisingly rapid decay of the so-called Carolingian renaissance (according to Illig this renaissance had never happened, at least not in the 9th century) - and chose Byzantium as a prototype. The Ottonean emperors managed to arrange marriages with imperial princesses from Byzantium. For the translations of Greek texts an artificial ecclesiastic Latin language was used.

The first translation of Theophanes into the Latin language might have set a reference for all the following historians. The list of emperors and the chronology found by Theophanes, joining antiquity and middle-ages so smoothly, established a never questioned frame-work that has been used ever since, first for the construction of the European middle-ages and then world-wide. [see questions 27 and 29]

19. Does not the written history of the Arab world disprove the PhTH?

The development of Arabia's written history and their relationship to Byzantium are quite intransparent. Without question, the master-text for the period between 614 and 911 AD is the huge opus History of the Prophets and Kings by at-Tabari - a universal history, reaching out from the creation of the world until 915 AD.

At-Tabari, a native Persian who wrote Arabic, died in 923 AD. Apparently, he already knew the long chronology. But his book shows no uniformity: There is the mostly homogeneous concept of the history of the Sassanide kingdom, followed by a more or less chaotic collection of so-called Isnad reports ("A was told by B, who learned from C, what the latter had heard from D, etc."). An Isnad (chain of tradition) may easily contain six, seven or even eight links. Typically, for one event, there are several records of this type that may contradict each other. In few cases, at-Tabari decides which one of the many variations, he feels, is right. [at-Tabari. For examples of Isnad-versions see question 20]

In view of the PhTH there are two approaches to interpret at-Tabari's history. Dr. Klaus Weissgerber [in Weissgerber (2000)] assigns the book about the Sassanides to the person at-Tabari, whereas he attributes the rest to a School of at-Tabari. The latter might have implemented the erroneous calendar on the basis of the Theophanes records. [see question 16]

According to others, the flawed calendar emerged in the Islamic world. at-Tabari himself would have been the author of the forgery. Constantine VII might have been familiar with his text, ending in 915. As Mas'udi reports, in 917 a delegation sent out by Constantine had been received ceremonially by the Caliph al-Muqtadir at Bagdad. [Hitti 302]

Further investigations will be required to clear-up this point. There are enough reasons for a cut-down of the medieval Arab history. There are, for example, the fantastic tales about the early Abasside rulers in Bagdad. Or the strange idea that the Egyptian Fatimides, reigning in the 10th century, did seamlessly resume the development of craftsmanship and art of the 7th century Sassanides. [Hitti 631] Or the possibility that the conquest of northern Africa and Spain in the late 6th or early 7th (= 10th?) century might have been dominated by troops from Persia. Finally the finding that practically all the edifices of the Maurs in Spain were erected beginning not earlier than in the 10th century. [WU 103-106. More about Arab Chronology in questions 20, 21, 27, 28 and 29]

20. Does not the Islamic calendar start in the year 622 AD, with the Hijra of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina?

The hijra - the escape of Muhammad from Mecca into Medina in the year 622 AD - marks the beginning of Islamic times. According to the PhTH, this year would be identical to the year 919 AD. But this would be definitely too late for the appearance of Muhammad and the politization of the Islam. at-Tabari, who died in 923 AD, for example, would have had no chance to report the death of the prophet and the spreading of the Islam.

Manfred Zeller and Klaus Weissgerber have presented their arguments in the ZS journal that the hijra should be dated earlier by several decades.

Weissgerber (2000) argues with a contradiction well-known to traditional historians: Muhammad was born in the Year of the Elephant. This was the year, when the Ethiopian commander Abrahas raided Mecca with his army, carrying along an elephant (another Isnad-tale reports 13 elephants). When a mysterious disease hit the army (still another Isnad reports that the elephant refused to move on), Abrahas went back to Ethiopia. [at-Tabari V 222-235. About "isnad" see question 19] Conventionally, the year 570 AD is said to be the Year of the Elephant. However, Abrahas had died at least twelve years before. Weissgerber presents some good reasons why Abrahas raid must have fallen in the year 544 AD. Therefore, he argues that Muhammad was born in this year.

Independently, Manfred Zeller had dated the Omaijad dynasty by 78 years earlier, analysing the coins and the architecture of these. Consequently, he had to date the Hijra earlier by the same 78 years, where it now coincides with the year that Weissgerber found for the Year of the Elephant (622 minus 78 makes 544 AD). [Zeller (1993a) and (1993b)] 

Quite close would be a scenario, assuming that in 544 AD Abrahas, allied with Byzantium, did not retire from Mecca. Instead he did conquer the town. In this case Muhammad would have fled from the troops of the Christian Abrahas. Southern Arabia has been reconquered in 575 AD by Sassanide troops. [Großer Ploetz] Islam may have spread across the Arab peninsula as a consequence of the Persian conquest.

21. Even if we assume the possibility of a faked chronology, what could have been the motivation behind?

So far, there is no ultimate answer for this question. Illig has presented several plausible motivations for the Western empire and for Byzantium [see question 22], were he sees the origin of the expanded Chronology. [see question 19] However, Illig's proposals could not end the dispute about the possible motivation. So far, no answer has been found, why the Arab world should have adopted the leap in history. So the impression prevails that the motivations found by Illig may be valid for the West and Byzantium, but only as an additional inducement to join in. Therefore, and because of some inconsistencies within Arab history, actually the search for the motive tends to focus onto the Islamic world.

Uwe Topper [see question 6] had noted that the years of the Nicean council (325 AD) and the year of the Hijra (The flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD) are separated by 297 years, exactly the length that Illig assumes for the PhT. This coincidence may have a causal background. At the council, the heretic Arius had been condemned, who had taught that Jesus was no God. [Topper (2000)]

Topper's argument that Muhammad must be identified with Arius, might not be conclusive, as these two personalities appear so different. However, a historical link between Arianism and Islam seems plausible. (Among other things, this would explain the surprisingly fast Islamisation of the formerly Arian northern Africa and Spain. One has to ask why this has not been considered much earlier by the historians).

Ongoing research into this direction would have to disclose how Islamic traditions reflect the Arian pretext. May, possibly, the Arianism, with its orientation towards radical moral values, be identified with the Shi'a, propagating very similar values? This denomination that split very early form the mainstream of the Sunnite Islam refers to Ali, the son in law of Muhammad. Within the Shi'a, Ali (= Ari, latin Arius?) ranks higher than the prophet himself. It is well known that the Shi'a (= party of 'Ali) became split again, because their mainstream had accepted a compromise with the adherents of Muhammad that was rejected by the minority.

Until today, the Shiite Alavite denomination is celebrating Christmas and believes that the Koran had been forged. Anti-trinitarian sermons from 'Ali have been preserved that may equally come from Arius. So, possibly, the historical tradition of the adherents of Arius has been disrupted by 297 years due to at-Tabari's school [see question 19], in order to make forget the identity of the Alides with the Christian Arians. The Christian roots are well-known to Islam research, as well as the later emerging tendency to deny these roots. [ref. Lüling (1981) and (1993)]

To clarify the motives for the expansion of chronology, these aspects will need further research. [see question 28] That the Islam does not have a big problem with leaps over history can be seen in the Koran, where Mary, the mother of Jesus and Miriam, the sister of Moses an Aaron are seen as one person - a leap over twelve centuries of history.

22. Even if a plausible motivation for the Arab world could be found, why should Byzantium and the Latin countries of the Occident adopt this extension of chronology?

In case the PhT should indeed be an invention of at-Tabari, then it must have been recognized by Constantine VII. He must have had his own motive to join in the game. As no one else, he had the resources to do so. [see question 17 and 27] So, why did he?

Due to Illig, he had two prevailing motivations. The first may have been a personal or dynastic one. With the expanded chronology he could camouflage his likely descent from Phokas, who became emperor after murdering his predecessor. Moreover, with the newly invented history it became possible to move the loss of the Holy Cross in the raid against Persia [see question 12] into a far past. [WU 157-184]

There may have been still another reason: Due to the manipulated chronology, the religious reformation under the emperor Justinian (who died in 565 AD) were dated earlier by three centuries. There are not many reliable informations left, concerning this obviously far-reaching reform, but a great many of bewildering reports. Justinian (presumably a contemporary of Muhammad [see question 20]) had declared the orthodox Catholicism to be the only accepted religion and enforced this decision. Therefore, he closed the Arian churches [see question 21] and confiscated their goods. The innovation that replaced the Common Supper of the early Christs by the Mass celebrated behind the iconostasis is said to be decreed by Justinian. So, possibly, the forgery of Constantine may have had the same motivation that already Justinian had: To suggest that the Catholic Church represented the original Christian religion. [see Beaufort (2004) about Justinian's reform]

The Byzantine iconoclasm may have started, when Justinian gave order to furnish all churches of his realm with pictures of the Madonna and the Crucifixion. For several hundred years a battle went back and on, with the pro-image Catholics against the anti-orthodox iconoclasts within the empire, and the Muslims (strictly disallowing images) outside. This battle is a main topic of the (fictive) chronicle of Theophanes. [see question 16] This chronicle, too, shows the obvious fruitlessness of iconoclasm - three centuries after it began, the original state had been restored.

In the West, the possibility should be considered that the leap of chronology had not been perceived. Illig assumes that Otto III and Pope Sylvester II (the most knowledgeable Gerbert from Aurillac) introduced the Christian date, including the expanded chronology. [WU 125-216]

Presumably, Gerbert knew the books of Theophanes. At Otto's residence, he came into contact with Byzantinean education. In his early age, he had travelled to Spain, where he came in touch with leading scientists from the Islam and, most likely, the Islamic calendar. [Lausser] So for Gerbert, the long chronology had been confirmed from two sides. As historical conciousness did not yet exist in the West [see question 18], there was no choice other than to adopt the historical mistake of the other side.

If this scenario should be correct, there will be no need any more to look for an autonomous motivation within the West. Otherwise, if Otto III and Gerbert should have manipulated in order to avoid the possible thread from Byzantium, challenging the legitimacy of the Western empire with the presentation the long chronology of the Greek empire, a motive proposed by Illig appears very plausible: Together with his Renovatio Imperii Romanum Otto, who adopted the name Servus Jesu Christi, desired to set the beginning of a new millennium (as documented by his seal for the year 1000). [WU 250 ff.]

23. Did not Dionysius Exiguus establish the Christian Era of our calendar during the 6th century AD?

For several centuries the Roman monk Dionysius Exiguus has been seen as the first that used the Christian way of year enumeration. [Ideler, Borst (1990), Maier] In his Easter table (dated 525 AD) he counts the years ab incarnatione Domini (what generally will be interpreted as "following the birth of Christ"). Doing so, he explicitly discontinued the former tradition to count the years referring to the era of Diocletian. [see question 4] In fact, he saw a wicked (impius) persecutor of Christians in Diocletian. [Ideler II 376]

In 1998 Arno Borst has found an even earlier author with Furius Dionysius Philocalus, the calligrapher of pope Damasus I. In 354 AD Philocalus compiled the most important Christian calendar of the late antiquity, where he counts the years BC following the ab urbe condita convention, the others referring to the birth of Christ. [Borst (1998) 42, WU 16 f.]

Obviously, Philocalus found no successors. Even Exiguus cannot be seen as such, as he did not refer to Philocalus and proclaimed his system as a novelty. It may surprise that he is counting the Christian years exactly as Philocalus did, because the very year of Christ's birth had always been disputed. It may be enlightening that the oldest preserved manuscripts of Philocalus' calendar originated within the 16th century - the century of the Gregorian reform of the calendar. [LexMA Art. Spätrömische Buchmalerei]

Just like Philocalus, Exiguus found neither computists nor chroniclers willing to adopt the new system. Apart from a few, never confirmed exceptions, the British Benedictine Beda Venerabilis (about 672-735 AD) was the next, who dated according to the birth of Christ. Nevertheless, the reference to Bede is not unproblematic, because he must be discerned from a Pseudo-Bede, well known to historians. He was the first counting backwards the years before Christ - some three centuries before (beginning in 1070 AD) this method came in use. [WU 123] In his Easter calculus, Bede presupposed that his readers knew how to handle the place-holder nulla in their calculations, replacing the not yet existing symbol zero. [R. Newton]

After Bede, the Dionysian Era became more popular. Charlemagne was the first ruler referring to it in some of his edicts and diplomas. So did Louis the Pious. His sons Lothar, Louis the German and Charles the Bald-head preferred to date their records (a great number of these still exist) according to their reign or to the Indiction (the tax year). Eventually, Charles the Fat refers to the years of Christ - so frequently, that some historians felt he might be the inventor of this method. [Ideler II 376 ff.]

Following a new interruption within the 10th century, at the end of this century dates using Christian years appear more frequently. This does not mean that the method had been completely accepted. In many documents it is used together with other types of date, considered equivalent. Moreover, it takes a long time until consensus about the beginning of the Era could be established. Within the 12th century, apart from the Era secundum Dionysium an Era secundum Evangelium has been used, starting 22 or even 23 years earlier. Roman popes were reluctant to use Christian dates until Eugen IV began to date his papal Bulls following Dionysios. [Ideler II 378 ff.]

In view of the PhTH it may be noted, that Dionysius Exiguus' text had no consequence and became forgotten. According to Illig, Christian dates came in use not before the 10th century, when they were introduced by Otto III and Sylvester II. Supposedly earlier examples in documents using the Christian Era should be due to manipulation of the documents date-line - medievalists are familiar with this phenomenon. [WU 205 ff.]

24. What about the rest of the world? Surely, dark ages will not be found everywhere?

Evidence from archaeology and art history for dark centuries, and gaps or duplications within the history of the early middle-ages has been found for Iceland, England, the Franconian Empire, Spain, Hungary, Byzantium, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Poland, Sicily as well as numerous single towns. [ZS. Examples from Bavaria: Illig/Anwander] Jewish literature is non-existent for more than two centuries. [WU 130 and ZS]

Raids of the Vikings were used to justify the lack of edifices within the west. They came in spring-time, every year, and burnt and looted the countries, before they retired before the winter. [Kinder/Hilgemann 131] Archaeologically, these pillages left no traces. [WU 97 ff.] Subsequent military expeditions of the Saracens were named to explain the missing of medieval churches in Georgia and Armenia.

Remarkable are these doubled dates:

Presumably, the history of China has not been affected by deliberate extensions of Chronology.

25. Isn't it possible to disprove the PhTH using computerized astronomical retro calculations?

Meanwhile, astronomers don't believe any more that Illig's hypothesis may be disproved using solar eclipse reports from ancient texts. The astronomer Professor Dieter B. Herrmann: "Ultimate evidence against Illig's hypothesis, based solely on historical solar eclipses, can possibly not be found." [Herrmann 213 f.]

The hope to calculate the number of years since the times of Ptolemy (2nd century) by referring to the stellar longitude from the Almagest had to be given up. As astronomers know, the longitude of stars with respect to the ecliptic proceeds within 72 years by 1°. It should be possible, therefore, to derive from the values laid down in the stellar catalogue of the Almagest, how many years had elapsed since compilation. [ref. Krojer 7-15. The scientifically questionable point of view of Krojers book has been reviewed by Illig (2003), Beaufort (2003) and Heinsohn (2003)] Most regrettably, this date is widely uncertain. The original Greek text of the Almagest had been lost and the original translations likewise. The Arabist Paul Kunitsch, who referred to quotations from medieval authors, was able to demonstrate that the original text must have diverged significantly from today's version. This explicitly includes the listed star coordinates. [ref. Kunitzsch (1974), Kunitzsch (1975) and Beaufort (2001)]

Actually, discussion has concentrated on the reports of solar and lunar eclipses engraved on Babylonian cuneiform tablets. It should be noted that it was not possible to confirm the dates given on these tablets really independent from astronomical retrocalculations. This means that the risk of logical circles cannot be excluded. [ref. van Gent] However, many of these tablets provide very accurate information from centuries of systematic astronomical observations. This allows to analyse the deviation (ΔT) between observation time and retro calculation. [Stephenson (1997)] The excellent statistical match indicates that the timings given on Babylonian tablets are not affected by the medieval PhT. Unfortunately, for the millennium separating the numerous records from Babylonian and Arab as well as Chinese astronomers, only a handful of records may be considered reliable. When the secular deceleration of the earth's rotation has been calculated, the data could not approve the expected virtually constant deceleration due to tidal friction. Instead, Stephenson hat to presume an unexplained zero deceleration between the 1st and 6th century AD. When the records were reviewed, assuming a deliberately introduced medieval PhT, the expected constant deceleration was found.

26. Will not scientific dating methods like C14 and Dendrochronology prove the absurdity of the PhTH?

Radiocarbon dating (C14) and dating by means of dendrochronology are no simple straightforward methods. C14-datings are subjected to statistics. They will be generated using the following procedure [ref. to Blöss/Niemitz]:

Further problems are e. g.:

27. Should not the huge fraud according to the PhTH have left traces everywhere?

If we presuppose that the chronology of the middle-ages has been forged within the Arab or Byzantine world, and that it has been transferred into the Latin speaking Occident without public notice, then we cannot expect to find more than the already well-known evidence for counterfeit in the west.

The historian knows already that the scriptoria, especially of the Benedictines, did produce forged documents. Likewise, he knows the centres of professional forgery, e.g. the monasteries of Reichenau, St. Gallen, Fulda and St. Denis. A common falsification was to backdate texts and documents (the same applies to pieces of art, buildings and relics). Freely invented histories and biographies were produced likewise. [see FM and VL] Theological disputes were held, based on backdated pseudo-epigraphs. In case of consent from Rome, the authors gained authority (ref. Dionysius Pseudo-Areopagita). In case of dissent by the Holy Father, the allegation with heresy could be avoided. [LexMA Art. Pseudepigraphie]

Coordination of all these forging activities may have been organized (the congregations of the Benedictines were subjected to Rome). Other forgeries may have originated from the fact that everyone had to refer to existing tradition, in order to remain credible.

It should be kept in mind that for long centuries only monks could read and write, that with very few exeptions texts were written in Latin, and that only the congregations had libraries. So there was an extremely selective access to literacy. In addition, there were no ways for external correction of informations. The circumstances during the middle-ages were quite ideal for the deliberate compilation of history and histories. [see question 30]

The production of texts in Byzantium may have been under tighter control than in the west. Byzantine caesaropapism made the emperor the head of both church and state. The systematic and well-organized invention of history under Constantine VII, the master-forger on the imperial throne, is well-known to historians. [see question 17]

The largest diversity of historical traditions should be expected for the Arab world, including northern Africa, Spain, Persia, Syria and Egypt with a number of traditional and mostly independent centres of literacy.

When we assume with Illig that this empire was ruled for many decades as a whole by the Sassanides, then for the Islamic world, too, a centralized written history becomes imaginable. In this context, it is significant that it was the Persian at-Tabari [see question 19 and 20], who wrote the history of the early middle-ages that became the standard for the history of the Islamic world.

28. Are there really no traces from the "biggest chronological forgery within history" (Illig)? This would be unthinkable, wouldn't it?

It is just not true that there were no traces. Historians know that masses of forgeries were produced, quite often under a common pretext. Evidence for these facts cannot be disputed away. So forged periods of time are not really a new phenomenon. In these ages, when only a few were able to read and to write, and when the production of texts was controlled by king, emperor or pope, it was not very difficult to manipulate an apparent history. Evidence, especially for this kind of forgeries, has been compiled over a number of years by the authors of the ZS Journal. Only a fraction could be addressed within this introductory text. [see questions 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26]

The, possibly, most poetic trace has been discovered by Uwe Topper. If there is only an official view on history and no place for a free and opposing tradition, the historical truth may find an unofficial way, using the oral tradition of myths, tales and religion. Topper recovered one of the few legends that has been told (and still is) in the Islamic as well as the Christian world: The legend of the Seven Sleepers. [Topper (1994)]

On June 27th, Christianity is remembering the Seven Holy Sleepers from Ephesus. These young men had to hide themselves in a cave, in order to escape the prosecutions of Christians under the emperor Decius. They fell asleep, and when they awoke again, centuries had passed. Worship for the Seven Sleepers spread to Byzantium, to the western Christians and to the Islamic East. Depending on the respective tradition, they slept between 190 and 372 years. According to the 18th Sura of the Koran ("Allah knows best, how long they stayed"), they slept for 309 lunar years, that are 300 solar years. [see question 3] The 18th Sura of the Koran serves for preparation of the Friday-prayer. It will be recited several times every year. [Kandler]

The legend of the Holy Sleepers can be retraced back to the 6th century. Presumably, it emerged in Syria. It should be noted that the Sleepers found much more intense worship in the world of the Islam than in Byzantium or the west. Even today, a number of Seven-Sleeper-Caves exists, with annual pilgrimages attracting masses of worshippers.

Essentially, two versions of the legend are still propagated within the Islamic countries. The first goes back to Ibn-Ishaq, who has been cited by at-Tabari. [for at-Tabari see question 19 and 20] According to this version, which is mostly identical to the Christian tradition, the Seven Sleepers were Christians. Due to the second version, attributed to 'Ali, the son in law of Muhammad, the Seven Sleepers were Muslims. Shiite Ismaelites believe that the Seven Sleepers were descendants of 'Ali and the Imams (religious leaders), the only legitimate successors of the prophet. For 309 lunar years, "the time of injustice", they had to hide in the cave. In the year 309 of the Hijra (i.e. 922 AD) the reign of the Fatimides began that considered themselves as descendants of Fatima, the wife of 'Ali. With their advent, the prophecies of the Seven Sleepers should be fulfilled. For another denomination of Shia the 309 years define the reign of the future Mahdi, who will be the last Imam reappearing as the Messiah. [Kandler 53. For 'Ali and Shiism see question 21]

29. Should nobody have ever discovered this fraud? Genealogies and even biographies of single persons were interrupted by the PhT - this must have been acknowledged by someone?

The correct question should be: Who might have discovered something - and what? Who could read at-Tabari [see question 19 f.], who did read Theophanes [see question 16]? Even within the most highly civilized nations of the middle-ages, the Romeans, Persians, Syrians or Egyptians, literacy was the privilege of a tiny upper class. For all the others, without a general public school system, illiteracy was the inevitable fate. Whenever else texts were compiled or read outside the community of scientists, this was done to set up contracts for purely practical economical or political purposes.

For those few having the background to read at-Tabari or Theophanes, the next problem would have been to get these texts at hand. How many manuscripts of at-Tabari or Theophanes did really exist? Where were they stored? Who had access to them? Whatever the answers may be for these questions, it should be clear that there was a further preselection.

A third hurdle would have been the nearly impossible verification. How could it be evaluated, whether at-Tabari or Theophanes were right? The correctness of historical texts may be cross-checked (if ever) by comparison to other texts or against recovered material relics. Whoever could have done this within the 10th century? Alternative texts addressing a medieval PhT were non-existent. And which medieval scientist may have been interested in some relics from past times?

A critical verification of the texts across the confinements of language, nation and geography may have been nearly impossible. Who, e.g. in Byzantium, was informed about what had happened in Baghdad or on the Arab peninsula? What could a Persian know about the events taking place in Egypt or Spain?

It may be considered, eventually, that it were just the crucial texts of at-Tabari and Theophanes, where the reference for chronology was reset (at-Tabari introduced the year-count according to the Hijra, while Theopanes referred to the world-era). Likewise, Jews and Christians apparently had readjusted their chronology within the 10th century. [see questions 4, 17, 19, 20, 23] For the uninitiated, these manipulations made it virtually impossible to realize the extension of chronology. [WU 121 ff.]

But even if one or the other scientist should have distrusted the official chronology: What motivation should have led him to clear up his suspicion? How seriously he might have taken the idea of a freely invented tradition? Might he have answered - full of anger against such an amount of deceive and impertinence - with the publication of his own opposing view?

One might imagine that a single scientist, or even a group that was actively involved into the forgeries - be it in the environment of Constantine VII, be it in a (hypothetical) school of at-Tabari - did not want to participate any more. But even this idea appears quite unrealistic: Traitors or whistle-blowers, might they have survived? If they might, would they have had a chance to express themselves independently? And, last but not least: Who should have believed them?

All this leads to the conclusion that it would have been not simple at all, even for contemporaries, to find a hint for the deliberate extension of chronology, or even to unravel the truth. For the later generations, this would have been even more difficult. When it may become possible today to reconstruct the real dimension of medieval forgery, this will be due to the dramatically improved communication tools. Today, a reviewer of chronology is no more a lonely researcher. He has the option to share and discuss his findings with others. This provides the persistence to hold on against the omnipresence of scepticism. Whether this will be sufficient, the future will show.

30. Last question: Is it true that so many forgeries were done within the middle-ages? Or is this just an insinuation of the proponents of the PhTH? Isn't it virtually impossible that all written documents from the Carolingian era were counterfeited?

Forgeries are a dangerous and unpleasant topic. Historians tend to touch them with kid gloves. They avoid to comment on them and like to hide themselves behind irony - suggesting that they know more than they can say. However, the PhTH requires to address the issue and an open discussion. This may be an explanation why historians dislike to consider this hypothesis.

On the other hand, the PhTH offers the possibility to address the problem of medieval forgeries in a new way - overcoming deeply engraved mind-blockades. Different from all the other criticism of medieval forgery, the PhTH does not want to criticise religion, confession, church or monasteric aspects. Questions of morals and legitimation are a minor issue here. This hypothesis - as shown above [see questions 6, 7, 8 and 10] - has different roots, which allow to address the issue in a new, unaffected approach. The following notes should be seen under this premiss.

Historians unanimously agree that an extraordinarily large number of forgeries has been produced within the middle-ages. In the chapter Forgeries and more Forgeries from his book An invitation into the Middle Ages, Horst Fuhrmann writes: “The sheer number of forgeries and the use of these will be in many cases beyond our imagination.” [Fuhrmann (1987) 195]

Indeed, everything that may be forged has been counterfeited: Documents, Seals, Coins, collections of letters, Vitae, Genealogies, Gestae, chronicles, annals, inventories, catalogues, martyrologies, necrologies, and so on. In addition, closely related to the forgeries there were pseudo-epigraphies, freely invented persons and their biographies, and manipulated dates for texts, works of art, buildings, relics and for all kinds of religious and civil foundations. [FM and VL]

The motivation for these activities were to support all types of claims. These were not restricted to material claims of possession. They included all kinds of claims of rights and control. Even theological and philosophical disputes were held under the support of pseudo-epigraphs, forged and backdated texts. [FM and VL] Other motivation may have existed, too (creative fantasy, for example).

However, forging of documents has been predominant. This was the main reason for the creation of a dedicated science analysing diplomas, coming up within the 17th century. [von Brandt 98] Jean Mabillon (1632-1707), a Benedictine, is regarded to be the founder of diploma science. In the six volumes of his book De re diplomatica he tried to confute the significance of pretended forgeries that some Jesuits had discovered. One of these, the Jesuit Jean Hardouin (1646-1729), then undertook the attempt to prove that all the documents from the middle-ages were forged by Benedictines. [Lelarge]

Until now, diploma science followed Mabillon and widely ignored Hardouin. Nevertheless, in full accordance with Horst Fuhmann, Ahasver von Brandt could note: “Forgery of documents has been pursued within the middle-ages, namely in the period between the 10th and the 13th century, as a mass-phenomenon, appearing just unbelievable to the laymen.” [von Brandt 98]

But there were not only the forgeries concerning official documents. Forgeries required more fakes: Itineraries of kings and emperors had to be rewritten, in order to illustrate, how these could sign their documents all across Europe - sometimes on the same day. This led to the notion of emperors travelling in permanence.

An example, not only for the masses of forged documents, but for the massive pseudo-epigraphy is the so-called Pseudo-Augustinus. Until 1986 researchers already had found dozens of texts attributed erroneously to the Latin Church Father Augustine. Thousands of copies of this Pseudo-Augustinus still exist, whose texts were compiled by a number of medieval authors, some of them known otherwise. During the middle-age, on average, the works of this false Augustinus were copied more frequently than those of the Ancient Father Augustine, whose texts are still considered to be authentic. [Dekkers]

One may presume that forgery and pseudo-epigraphy not only were tolerated by the highest ecclesiastic instances. They must have been promoted actively. Horst Fuhrmann assumes that Ignaz Döllinger (1799-1890) was right with his hypothesis that only due to massive forgeries the primate of the Roman church has been enforced. [Fuhrmann (1986) 88; see question 10] This aspect may explain at least one part of the incredible number of medieval forgeries. [see question 27]

The total amount of medieval forgery, pseudo-epigraphy, and backdating can still not be estimated reliably. A systematic study giving a reliable overview does not exist. An important reason for this situation may be that improved methods and increasing knowledge produce an ever increasing number of unmasked forgeries. [Dekkers 363]

In front of these observations the question must now be answered whether it will be imaginable that the history of the Carolingian empire as a whole has been invented or forged. Professor Gerd Althoff (University of Münster) circumscribes this task: “Not just Charlemagne alone had to be invented, as Illig suggests, but a logically consistent high civilisation with all of its facets.” [Althoff 483]

The protagonist of Althoff's high civilization looks not so well, when it comes to consistency [see question 13], and analogue statements may be made about the rest of this high civilisation. [DeM und WU] The few remaining matches will quite easily find another explanation. [see question 27]

The question how many documents were affected by a forged chronology has been answered by Althoff most remarkably: “Thousands (or hundred-thousands).” As this confusing answer appears not very useful, an estimate about the overall number of Carolingian manuscripts by Arno Borst shall be added, who came to a total of about 7000. [Borst (1998) 15]

7000 manuscripts are not so many, when we recall the thousands of forged copies that were circulated under the name of Augustine. Although Augustine was not a Carolingian author, this gives an idea of the productivity of pseudo-epigraphers and copyists. When we consider further that these 7000 manuscripts include the 100 official documents signed by Charlemagne, which already are unmasked as forgeries, and add those 70 royal Langobard documents including at least 80% of forgeries, the count of 7000 becomes relativized.

For the Carolingian manuscripts also include the 10.000 page convolute of the Pseudo-Isidorian Forgeries. Likewise, the Historia Caroli Magni et Rotholandi of the Pseudo-Turpin. Likewise, the famous convent plan from Sankt Gallen (St. Galler Klosterplan), that has to represent the typical architecture of the Carolingian period, because practically no rests of real buildings were found. Here we can see the exposed arch crossing and the system of measurement that came up with the Romanesque buildings of later centuries. Ultimately, there are texts like Bede [WU 122-127] or Eriugena [DeM 367], which were presumably written after the PhT of the early middle-ages, but were backdated afterwards, so that they cannot be called forgeries in a strict sense.

Eventually, it should be considered that scientists are classifying those documents as authentic that have only survived as copies from later centuries, as long as the latter were not explicitly unmasked as being forged. The question, why these copies were prepared after several centuries, remains unanswered.

Much more should be said in this respect. [see FM and VL] One would have to address the development of the Carolingian Minuscula letters that, presumably, emerged within the high middle ages. Or the undistinguishable illumination paintings of Carolingian and Ottonean books. Then there would be the surprisingly low number of books within the libraries of early medieval convents - if we give credits to their catalogues. All this can only be alluded here. For further information the reader may refer to Illig's books and the ZS Journal.

Over all, the impression remains that forgery of some 7000 Carolingian manuscripts was all but impossible. Additional research will be required, of course. Wherever possible, it should be investigated who forged what and when - in the same way, as it has been done in many cases for the texts of Pseudo-Augustinus. Right now, it can be noted that the forging presupposed by the PhTH does not significantly exceed the amount that is already well-known to the historians.


Gerd Althoff (1997): Kann man eine Hochkultur erfinden? In: Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften 4/1997, 483 f.

at-Tabari (1985) = Ihsan Abbas u. a. (Hg.): The History of at-Tabari. An Annotated Translation. 38 Volumes. New York: 1985 -

Jan Beaufort (2001): Die Fälschung des Almagest. Versuch einer Ehrenrettung des Claudius Ptolemäus. In: ZS 4/2001, 590-615 u. 1/2002, 32-48

Jan Beaufort (2003): Die Fälschung des Almagest und ihre Verdrängung durch Franz Krojer. In: ZS 3/2003, 508-515

Jan Beaufort (2004): Richtigstellung zu Lukas. In: ZS 2/2004, 432-435

Hans-Georg Beck (1961): Überlieferungsgeschichte der byzantinischen Literatur. In: Hunger (1961), 423-510

Andreas Birken (2002): Der Höhenflug des Flinders Petrie. In: ZS 2/2002, 219-233

Christian Blöss / Hans-Ulrich Niemitz (1997): C14-Crash. Das Ende der Illusion, mit Radiokarbonmethode und Dendrochronologie datieren zu können. Gräfelfing

Arno Borst (1990): Computus. Zeit und Zahl in der Geschichte Europas. Berlin

Arno Borst (1998): Die karolingische Kalenderreform. Hannover

Ahasver von Brandt (1958): Werkzeug des Historikers. Stuttgart

Eligius Dekkers (1986): Le succès étonnant des écrits pseudo-augustiniens au Moyen Age. In: FM V 361-368

DeM = Illig (1998)

Mircea Eliade (1990): Geschichte der religiösen Ideen. 4 Bände. Freiburg im Breisgau

Hartmut Erbse (1961): Überlieferungsgeschichte der griechischen klassischen und hellenistischen Literatur. In: Hunger (1961), 207-283

FM = Fälschungen im Mittelalter. Internationaler Kongreß der Monumenta Germaniae Historica, München 16.-19. September 1986. 6 Volumes Hannover 1988

Johannes Fried (2002): Ein dunkler Leuchtturm. In: Der Spiegel 3/2002, 132-141

Horst Fuhrmann (1986): Von der Wahrheit der Fälscher. In: FM I 82-98

Horst Fuhrmann (1987): Einladung ins Mittelalter. München

Manfred Fuhrmann (1994): Rom in der Spätantike. Porträt einer Epoche. Düsseldorf / Zürich

Robert H. van Gent (o. J.): Bibliography of Mesopotamian Astronomy and

Gunnar Heinsohn (1996): Die Wiederherstellung der Geschichte Armeniens und Kappadokiens. In: ZS 1/1996, 38-68

Gunnar Heinsohn (2001): Karl der Einfältige (898/911-923). In: ZS 4/2001, 631-661 (im Internet veröffentlicht unter [broken link to]

Gunnar Heinsohn (2003): Krojer und die Auschwitzleugnung. In: ZS 3/2003, 516 f.

Dieter B. Herrmann (2000): Nochmals: Gab es eine Phantomzeit in unserer Geschichte? In: Acta Historica Astronomiae Bd. 10. Thun / Frankfurt am Main 2000, 211-214

Philip K. Hitti (1974): History of the Arabs. London

Herbert Hunger u. a. (Hg.) (1961): Geschichte der Textüberlieferung der antiken und mittelalterlichen Literatur Bd. 1. Zürich

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Heribert Illig (1998): Das erfundene Mittelalter. Die größte Zeitfälschung der Geschichte. München (= DeM)

Heribert Illig (2000): Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht? Wie 300 Jahre Geschichte erfunden wurden. München (= WU)

Heribert Illig (2003): Rückweisung der bislang gewichtigsten Kritik an der Phantomzeitthese. In: ZS 3/2003, 478-507

Heribert Illig / Gerhard Anwander (2002): Bayern und die Phantomzeit. Archäologie widerlegt Urkunden des frühen Mittelalters. Eine systematische Studie. 2 Bände. Gräfelfing

Hermann Kandler (1994): Die Bedeutung der Siebenschläfer im Islam. Bochum

Hermann Kinder / Werner Hilgemann (1995): dtv-Atlas zur Weltgeschichte. München

Der Koran. Übers. v. Max Henning. Eingel. v. Ernst Werner u. Kurt Rudolph. Textdurchsicht, Anmerkungen, Register v. Kurt Rudolph. Wiesbaden o. J.

Hans-E. Korth (2002): Anomalie der C14-Kalibrierkurve beweist Kalendersprung. In: ZS 1/2002, 49-67

Hans-E. Korth (2003): Phantomzeit-These und Naturwissenschaft - FAQ.

Franz Krojer (2003): Die Präzision der Präzession. Illigs mittelalterliche Phantomzeit aus astronomischer Sicht. Mit einem Beitrag von Thomas Schmidt. München

Paul Kunitzsch (1974): Der Almagest. Die Syntaxis Mathematica des Claudius Ptolemäus in arabisch-lateinischer Überlieferung. Wiesbaden

Paul Kunitzsch (1975): Ibn as-Salah: Zur Kritik der Koordinatenüberlieferung im Sternkatalog des Almagest. Göttingen

Abbé Lausser (1976): Gerbert. Étude historique sur le dixième siècle. Genève

Günter Lelarge (1998): Stichwort: Hardouin, Jean. Vom Umgang mit Wissen und Wahrheit. In: ZS 1/1998, 156-162

LexMA = Lexikon des Mittelalters. München 1977-1998

Günter Lüling (1981): Die Wiederentdeckung des Propheten Muhammed. Eine Kritik am "christlichen" Abendland. Erlangen

Günter Lüling (1993): Über den Urkoran: Ansätze zur Rekonstruktion der vorislamisch-christlichen Strophenlieder im Koran. Erlangen

Hans Maier (1991): Die christliche Zeitrechnung. Freiburg

Cyril Mango / Roger Scott (Hg.) (1997): The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813. Oxford

Robert R. Newton (1972): Medieval Chronicles and the Rotation of the Earth, Baltimore

John Julius Norwich (2000): Byzanz. 3 Volumes. Augsburg

Der Große Ploetz (2000). 32. Auflage. Freiburg 

Steven Runciman (1983): Byzanz. Von der Gründung bis zum Fall Konstantinopels. Kindlers Kulturgeschichte Europas Bd. 8. München

Francis R. Stephenson (1997): Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation. Cambridge

Uwe Topper (1994): Die Siebenschläfer von Ephesos. Eine Legende und ihre Auswirkungen. In: ZS 1/1994, 40-55

Uwe Topper (2000): Die große Geschichtsfälschung. Berlin. Internetmanuskript: [broken link to]

VL = Georg Vogeler / Horst Enzensberger/ Thomas Frenz (2000): Virtual Library. Historische Hilfswissenschaften., /3b1.html, /3b2.html und /3a.html.

Klaus Weissgerber (2000): Zur islamischen Phantomzeit (Islamica I). In: ZS 3/2000, 419-448

Klaus Weissgerber (2003): Ungarns wirkliche Frühgeschichte. Árpád eroberte schon 600 das Karpatenbecken. Gräfelfing

WU = Illig (2000)

Manfred Zeller (1993a): Das Kalifat der Omajjaden. In: ZS 3/1993, 69-86

Manfred Zeller (1993b): Der Iran in frühmittelalterlicher Zeit (bis zum 10. Jh.). In: ZS 3/1993, 87-110

ZS = Zeitensprünge. Interdisziplinäres Bulletin (vorm. Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart). Mantis Verlag, Gräfelfing.
Editor and publisher: Dr. phil. Heribert Illig. Contributing editor: Prof. Dr. phil. Dr. rer. pol. Gunnar Heinsohn