The phantom time hypothesis is a theory advanced by German historian and publisher Heribert Illig (born 1947) which proposes that the year 613 CE was followed by the year 911 CE and that historical events between 614 and 911 in the Early Middle Ages of Europe and neighbouring regions are either wrongly dated, or did not occur at all, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact.

Explanation of the hypothesis

The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar, was long known to introduce a discrepancy from the tropical year of around one day for each century that the calendar was in use. By the time the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, Illig alleges that the old Julian calendar should have produced a discrepancy of thirteen days between it and the real (or tropical) calendar. Instead, the astronomers and mathematicians working for Pope Gregory had found that the civil calendar needed to be adjusted by only ten days. (The Julian calendar day Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar, Friday, 15 October 1582). From this, Illig concludes that the AD era had counted roughly three centuries which never existed.

Arguments for the hypothesis

The basis of Illig's hypothesis include:[1][2]

  • The scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period 614–911 CE, the perceived inadequacies of radiometric and dendrochronological methods of dating this period, and the over-reliance of medieval historians on written sources.
  • The presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe, suggesting the Roman era was not as long as conventionally thought.
  • The relation between the Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar and the underlying astronomical solar or tropical year.

Arguments against the hypothesis

  • Observations in ancient astronomy, including during the Tang Dynasty in China, of solar eclipses and Halley's Comet for example, are consistent with current astronomy with no "phantom time" added.[3][4]
  • Archaeological remains and dating methods such as dendrochronology refute, rather than support, "phantom time".[5]
  • The Gregorian reform was never purported to bring the calendar in line with the Julian calendar as it had existed at the time of its institution in 45 BCE, but as it had existed in 325, the time of the Council of Nicaea, which had established a method for determining the date of Easter Sunday by fixing the Vernal Equinox on March 20 in the Julian calendar. By 1582, the astronomical equinox was occurring on March 10 in the Julian calendar, but Easter was still being calculated from a nominal equinox on March 20. In 45 BCE the astronomical vernal equinox took place around March 23. Illig's "three missing centuries" thus correspond to the 369 years between the institution of the Julian calendar in 45 BCE, and the fixing of the Easter Date at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.[6]
  • If Charlemagne and the Carolingian dynasty were fabricated, there would have to be a corresponding fabrication of the history of the rest of Europe, including Anglo-Saxon England, the Papacy, and the Byzantine Empire. The "phantom time" period also encompasses the life of Muhammad and the Islamic expansion into the areas of the former Roman Empire, including the conquest of Visigothic Spain. This history too would have to be forged or drastically misdated. It would also have to be reconciled with the history of the Tang Dynasty of China and its contact with Islam, such as at the Battle of Talas.[4][7]

Alternate possibility

The whole theory is much more plausible if we assume that it was actually Julius Caesar that added the 300 (or perhaps 360) years to the calendar and that other regions were simply slow to adopt the changes. The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC (708 AUC), took effect on 1 January 45 BC (AUC 709).


  1. Illig, Heribert (2000). Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht? (ISBN 3548750648). Econ Verlag. 
  2. Illig, Heribert. Das erfundene Mittelalter (ISBN 3548364292). 
  3. Dieter Herrmann (2000), "Nochmals: Gab es eine Phantomzeit in unserer Geschichte?" (in German), Beiträge zur Astronomiegeschichte 3: pp. 211–214 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dutch, Stephen. "Is a Chunk of History Missing?". Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  5. Amalie Fößel (1999), "Karl der Fiktive?" (in German), Damals, Magazin für Geschichte und Kultur (8): pp. 20f 
  6. Karl Mütz: Die „Phantomzeit“ 614 bis 911 von Heribert Illig. Kalendertechnische und kalenderhistorische Einwände. In: Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte. Band 60, 2001, S. 11-23.
  7. Adams, Cecil. "Did the Middle Ages Not Really Happen?". Retrieved 9 July 2014. 



  • Illig, Heribert: Enthält das frühe Mittelalter erfundene Zeit? and subsequent discussion, in: Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften 8 (1997), pp. 481–520.
  • Schieffer, Rudolf: Ein Mittelalter ohne Karl den Großen, oder: Die Antworten sind jetzt einfach, in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 48 (1997), pp. 611–617.
  • Matthiesen, Stephan: Erfundenes Mittelalter - fruchtlose These!, in: Skeptiker 2 (2002).

By Illig

  • Egon Friedell und Immanuel Velikovsky. Vom Weltbild zweier Außenseiter, Basel 1985.
  • Die veraltete Vorzeit, Heribert Illig, Eichborn, 1988
  • with Gunnar Heinsohn: Wann lebten die Pharaonen?, Mantis, 1990, revised 2003 ISBN 3-928852-26-4
  • Karl der Fiktive, genannt Karl der Große, 1992
  • Hat Karl der Große je gelebt? Bauten, Funde und Schriften im Widerstreit, 1994
  • Hat Karl der Große je gelebt?, Heribert Illig, Mantis, 1996
  • Das erfundene Mittelalter. Die größte Zeitfälschung der Geschichte, Heribert Illig, Econ 1996, ISBN 3-430-14953-3 (revised ed. 1998)
  • Das Friedell-Lesebuch, Heribert Illig, C.H. Beck 1998, ISBN 3-406-32415-0
  • Heribert Illig, with Franz Löhner: Der Bau der Cheopspyramide, Mantis 1998, ISBN 3-928852-17-5
  • Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht?, Heribert Illig, Ullstein 2003, ISBN 3-548-36476-4
  • Heribert Illig, with Gerhard Anwander: Bayern in der Phantomzeit. Archäologie widerlegt Urkunden des frühen Mittelalters., Mantis 2002, ISBN 3-928852-21-3

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Phantom time hypothesis. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.