Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 8 in Today I Learned – Phantom Time Hypothesis


Do you ever get pangs of regret? After many posts here, I sure do, be it embarrassing anecdotes that could have gone without being shared or the gratuitous typos or grammatical errors. Just come to embrace the fact I will never do anything to fix the latter and will ignorantly continue to subject myself to the former. The good news about any regret you feel, whether it be dating someone for too long, your choice of school or career, a costly purchase that has altered your financial well-being, or maybe just your choice of attire from high school, is it hasn’t happened yet as it is actually the year 1721.
That’s not technically true. You will be forever burdened by your shame, it will be the albatross around your conscious that keeps you awake a night staring at the spot on the ceiling above your bed wondering, “how could I have not knocked before walking in on my coworker in the bathroom.” But it is 1721, according to the phantom time hypothesis. In 1991, historian Heribert Illig proposed a bulk of the Middle Ages (specifically, 614 AD to 911 AD) never happened. This theory/conspiracy alleges that Pope Sylvester II and Holy Roman Emperor Otto III thought it would be way cooler to say they ruled their respective thrones during 1000 AD rather than whenever the hell in the mid 7th century. Consider the situation – these are two of the most powerful men in Europe, only like six people can read, so… they can pretty much say it’s whatever year they want because their cronies will back them regardless.
How the hell did this guy determine this? The theory presupposes that there is a significant lack of historical evidence (confirmed written documentation and archaeological remains confirmed by dating methods) from this time period, and a miscalculation during the conversion from the Gregorian calendar to the modern Julian calendar “conveniently” lopped off 297 years. But what about all the documentation we DO have from this time period? This theory leans on the proposition that Charlemagne, the biggest figure from this period, and his entire dynasty was completed fabricated merely because two dorks wanted to rule during the first millennium. This guy says Charlemagne was basically King Arthur, which seems like a big leap of faith.
This theory is widely disputed (which is the kindest way to say no one actually accepts this as true) with historians pointing to thousands of documents that were confirmed to exist during this period as well as historical cross referencing and record keeping from other parts of the world that confirm events during this period. The idea that because only like a dozen people across the globe could read because the rest were busy slapping mud together for their hovels or murdering each other over inconsequential differences in religion, someone could just add a few centuries to the year, because time is an artificial construct that has no true value, and everything we know is built upon a premise of poorly understood and loosely verified information. The year is a completely arbitrarily chosen number if you’re any religion other than a derivation of Christian and how did people refer to time period to Jesus being around?
“Hey Ibrahim, what year is it?”
“It’s 770 BC”
“What’s the ‘BC’ stand for?”
“Before Christ”
“Before who?”
“Fuck if I know. Let’s get back to murdering some religious minorities because it’s still Greek antiquity and that’s what we do now.”
Anyway, enjoy the notion everything you know is founded on nothing you can personally validate!

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