The Phantom Time Hypothesis

A number of theories claim that several centuries never actually happened, and were faked by the Church.

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Ancient Mysteries, Conspiracies, Urban Legends

Skeptoid #332
October 16, 2012
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe

Today we're going to go back into history, all the way back to — well, we're not very sure where — because according to some, large chunks of what we believe are history never actually happened. The phantom time hypothesis is any of a number of alternate chronologies of the past few millennia, in which whole centuries of false history have been inserted into the calendar ex post facto by the ruling class. A dark age here, a century or two there; it never happened in reality but was made up, artificially stretching modern history into the two thousand years we now wrongly think have taken place since the year 1.

Most of today's support for this hypothesis comes from eastern Europe, a part of the world where conspiratorial thinking has typically flourished. The ideas were first widely publicized around 1700 by the French Jesuit and librarian Jean Hardouin, who believed that most of the art and literature from ancient Greece and Rome were 13th-century Jesuit forgeries, and that most of what we regard as Greek and Roman history never transpired. His work was followed by other French Jesuits. It was ultimately championed, expanded, and widely published by the Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko beginning in the 1980s. Fomenko used statistical analysis of ancient texts and his own mathematical notions about astronomical observations to show that Hardouin had not gone far enough; and that the Jesuits had forged all of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, and Arabic history, inserting nearly a thousand years of false history into the calendar. In Fomenko's revised chronology, we would only have to go back in time some 900 years to meet Jesus Christ.

A more specific phantom time claim comes from a pair of German conspiracy theorists, Heribert Illig and Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, who believe that our current calendar was inflated by 297 years through a series of errors and deliberate meddling by the Catholic Church. According to Illig and Niemitz, when we think it's the year 2012, it's actually only 1715.

The calendar system that we use today is called the Gregorian calendar, which specifies a leap year every four years, except for years divisible by 100, but still including years divisible by 400. This keeps us right on track very well. Its adoption in 1582 was largely motivated by the need to keep Easter in the right place on the calendar, something that was important to the Church, but which had drifted off 10 days using the previous Julian calendar system. The Julian system was simpler; it had a leap year every four years, and no exceptions, so was less accurate. The correction was ordered by Pope Gregory XIII, and was accomplished by going from October 4, 1582, directly to October 15, 1582, and proceeding with the Gregorian method thenceforth.

Now Illig, by looking back over those 1582 years and counting up the leap years, found that the ten-day error was too small, and that the real error was thirteen days. Illig could think of only possible explanation for the Pope's astronomers coming up with an error that was too small: the actual number of centuries that had existed was smaller than the Pope was letting on. Illig reckoned that just about three centuries of recorded history were faked, and never took place.

The interesting part of all this is that Illig was half right; a simple count reveals that the Julian calendar would have accumulated 13 days of error over 1582 years, not 10. But there's a reason 10 was used other than phantom centuries. When the calendar switch was made in 1582, the idea was not to correct the Julian error accumulated since the year 1, but rather to bring Easter back into calendar sync with the time Easter had been fixed: the Council of Nicaea. When was the Council of Nicaea? You guessed it, the year 325; 1257 years before the switch, just enough to drift by 10 days. Illig's phantom time hypothesis was based on the wrong interpretation of a valid observation.

Yet from that launching point, Illig and Niemitz have converged upon many of the same conclusions as Fomenko. Both point to a lack of archaeological and documentary evidence from the latter centuries of the first millennium. They believe these centuries never took place; while history explains this scarcity as the European Dark Ages when there was, in fact, very little construction or literature. Both dismiss the existence of Charlemagne, who is the central focus of existing evidence from the period, as a hoax created by the Church in order to support the existence of their false centuries.

The truly interesting thing about the various phantom time hypotheses is not the claims themselves, but the real science behind how we're able to disprove them. There's nobody listening to this who was around in the year 900 to authoritatively state that the calendar has not been tampered with. You can hand me a piece of wood that I can radiometrically date to 500 years old, but I still have no way of knowing if people 500 years ago called their year 1500, 1200, 1041, or 666. So is there some way we can thumbtack the real physical history to align it with the reported calendar history? Is there any way to prove that an event claimed by history books to have happened in the year 300 actually happened 1700-something physical years ago?

It turns out that the answer is yes, there are ways to do exactly that. Radiometric dating can give us the ages of many types of objects that are associated with historical events: battles, burials, construction projects. Astronomical events like supernovae mentioned in ancient records can pinpoint the date of recording. Other events, like eclipses and the visitation of Halley's and other comets, were logged by many ancient astronomers on at least three different continents, records that still exist, giving us an uninterrupted and canonical history over nearly the past 3000 years. But let's start by looking at dendrochronology, better known as tree ring data.

Although individual trees are at most a few thousand years old, and usually much younger, we currently have an anchored chronology going back over 12,000 years. This chronology is made by matching up the overlapping pattern of tree rings from wood from a particular region. These regional chronologies can then be matched up to radiocarbon calibration scales, such as the current IntCal04 which combines worldwide data from tree rings, corals, and shells found in marine sediments going back 26,000 years. These calibrations are further confirmed by other independent sources of hard data, such as ice cores. So when we find a piece of wood from some ancient object, we have a number of ways of dating it. Radiocarbon dating gives us data on samples up to 60,000 years old, and if it's within the past 11,000 years (basically, recorded history) this dating can also be backed up independently with the anchored dendrochronology.

Of the phantom time hypothesists, Fomenko addresses this criticism most directly. Fomenko's response to the dendrochronology that disproves his theory is that there is not really any such thing as an anchored chronology. He points to gaps in specific regional chronologies, which of course exist; while ignoring the much larger picture of all the encompassing scales. His rejection of dendrochronology is like finding a fossil finger bone and claiming not to be able to know anything about it, which of course you couldn't if you ignored where it was found, in what strata of what age, and with what other objects.

Fomenko rejects radiocarbon dating using some of the same limitations pointed out by Young Earth Creationists. Specific radiometric dating types are only appropriate for items of a given age due to the half lives of various isotopes, and the relative isotopic proportions needed for valid measurements. Fomenko has taken it a step farther though, often alleging purposeful conspiring between the dating technicians and the archaeologists to choose a method known to be the wrong one in order to produce a desired date, one that matches the "official" world chronology. To use it properly you need to choose the right method for the right job, but Fomenko and the Young Earthers consider this need for knowledgeable intervention to render the entire process corrupt and scientifically useless.

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

Fomenko's responses to astronomical objections to his theory depend largely upon the acceptance of topics such as astrology and Biblical literalness as fact. For example, in the year 1054, astronomers in India, the Arab world, China and Japan recorded witnessing the supernova that we now call the Crab Nebula. Modern measurements of the nebula tell us that it exploded just over 950 years ago, and ancient records tell us that the year in which it was witnessed was 1054. Total solar eclipses darkened Europe and the Mediterranean in 1079, 1086, and 1098. Fomenko asserts that the supernova was the Star of Bethlehem, and therefore one of those eclipses was the darkness that descended upon the crucifixion of Jesus. Obviously this could only work if our modern calendar is wrong by 10 or 11 centuries, and if the Bible is a literal historical account. So we must first accept both of two unprovable conjectures before we can even begin to logically take Fomenko's claim under consideration. That's a fundamentally unscientific methodology.

Throughout the centuries that Illig, Niemitz, and Fomenko claim did not exist are historical reports of Halley's comet that anchor historical chronology to the dates of the sightings. Of particular interest are the Chinese records, which use completely different dates from the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and yet can be precisely aligned to Western calendars by matching up these astronomical events. So we have multiple, independent lines of evidence that show Halley's comet was sighted by Europeans who considered the calendar year to be 760, 837, 912, 989, 1066, 1145, in fact every century that any of the phantom time proponents say didn't happen. To address this, Fomenko has asserted that the European reports are forgeries, and that the Chinese and other astronomical histories are uselessly unreliable.

To summarize the veracity of all of the phantom time hypotheses, they cannot be disproved. Any evidence offered to show that they're wrong is simply called fake or unreliable. No evidence, it seems — no matter how well supported — is good enough. If we ask them what evidence they'd accept to show that history is as we know it to be, they'd ask for exactly what's already been given to them, and that they already rejected. The hypotheses are not disprovable. And this takes them outside the realm of science. A theory must be disprovable if it is scientific. And the phantom time hypothesis, for better or for worse, is not scientific.

Brian Dunning

© 2012 Skeptoid Media Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Adams, C. "Did the Middle Ages Not Really Happen?" The Straight Dope. Sun-Times Media, LLC, 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <>

Colavito, J. "Who Lost the Middle Ages?" Skeptic. 1 Jul. 2004, Volume 11, Issue 2: 66-70.

Espenak, F., Meeus, J. Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE). Greenbelt: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2006. 366-367.

Friedrich, M., Remmele, S., Kromer, B., Hofmann, J., Spurk, M., Kaiser, K., Orcel, C., Küppers, M. "The 12,460-year Hohenheim oak and pine tree-ring chronology from Central Europe; a unique annual record for radiocarbon calibration and paleoenvironment reconstructions." Radiocarbon. 1 Jan. 2004, Volume 46, Number 3: 1111-1122.

Marsden, B., Williams, G. "Catalogue of Cometary Orbits 1996." International Astronomical Union. 1 Jan. 1996, 11th Edition.

Reimer, P., et. al. "IntCal04 Terrestrial Radiocarbon Age Calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP." Radiocarbon. 1 Jan. 2004, Volume 46, Number 3: 1029-1058.

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "The Phantom Time Hypothesis." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 16 Oct 2012. Web. 3 Sep 2015. <>


Fomenko's claims are far too conservative.

The universe is only a few days old, all 'evidence' is faked, and all your memories (and everyone else') were implanted in your brain by DARPA while you slept last night.

danR, Vancouver/Canada
October 16, 2012 8:58am

Very interesting article this week. This reminds me of Immanuel Velikovsky and the Catastrophist's view of the history of time.

This article makes me think I should study archaeology a bit more.

Government Goodies, Secret Government Lab
October 16, 2012 9:19am

There's a curious hole in this particular wingnut conspiracy dribble (I'm less diplomatic than you, Brian). What's the motive? The general requirement of these delusion fantasies is missing. The great and powerful stage managers of our existence are usually covering up dark deeds and shady shenanigans. Why did the ancients (or not so ancients) feel the need to wedge in a few centuries? A drunken bar bet?

To have a twisted logic, it should be flipped around. These nuts should be trying to convince us that great ancient civilizations called the Greeks and Egyptians and Romans existed. That rigid priests and Jesuits destroyed all evidence of these pagan cultures to keep our minds from being polluted. But, if I follow their theory, these devout Christians worked 24/7 to fake up pyramids, colloseums, parthenons and kilotonnes of art celebrating pagan gods. And being sticklers for verisimilitude, they did up the roads, aqueducts, ports and other mundane trappings of their fake civilizations.


Blaze, Melfort, Saskatchewan
October 16, 2012 9:42am

Ah, Illig. The great shame of Vohenstrauß since they don't have their own license plates anymore. They said VOH, which was promptly translated to "Volk ohne Hirn" (people without brain) according to their driving style.
I happen to have Illigs first book with an autograph in my collection of stupid ideas. It was quite a laugh when I lend it to fellow archaeologists.

Felix Hummel, Regensburg, Germany
October 16, 2012 10:26am

danR, I could tell you were making that up when you mentioned DARPA. I happen to know DARPA was implanted in your brain by the real perpetrator. (They'll kill me if I identify them, so that's all you get!) If you want to find out, I'd tell you to follow the money, but we both know money's just a front for the real medium of exchange...

Paul Brinkley, Columbia, MD
October 16, 2012 10:42am

I read one of Fomenko's books. I found it fascinating but there way too many assumptions in it to take seriously. It became apparent that Fomenko's true motive was to prove the Bible as historically accurate. If I remeber correctly, he also claimed that Christ was born and lived in Italy and not the Middle East.

J. Arlo, Cary, NC
October 16, 2012 10:44am

Hi! I enjoy your site so much. Thanks ten times. There is a clear error in your post: Jean Hardouin cannot have believed in 13th-century Jesuit forgeries, since the Jesuits were founded in the 16th century, only a century before Hardouin´s birth.

Damian Beanato, Buenos Aires, Argentina
October 16, 2012 10:55am

Oh my!!

Where do you start? lol

Like most of the conspiracies and revisionist topics, the initial delusion that they are right is only reinforced by evidence countering it - it's all part of the conspiracy!!

It's not just crazy Europeans either, some time back I found a forum where the Afro-centrists were seemingly convincing folks that Minoans, Greeks, Romans basically any civilization or advance in Europe were all African in origin - and I don't mean WRT the OOA theory lol

Apparently everything from Quantum, Relativity and String theories to Moon-landings and nuclear power were all stolen by "evil-pink-genetic-mutants" from the Africans, who promptly then forgot how to do any of it, and that fool Sertina telling folks that the Olmecs were Africans SMDH

The Internet can be a crazy place, but of course we had quite a few pre-Internet writers telling us that Egyptians and Mesopotamians were aliens or helped by then, ancient aliens, marvellous stuff.

As I observe more and more humanity, the more I am becoming aware that 'normal' is just something we can't apply to humans, maybe that's been our success on this rock, we don't all think the same, who knows.

Of course history is often written by victors and in many cases we only have one person's view of what happened, and often at a time far removed from events. So we can be pretty sure that not all recorded history is 100% as it happened, and unfortunately that too leaves room for any loony toon idea to creep in.

David "sheeple-doofer" Healey, Maidenhead, UK
October 16, 2012 11:13am

Oh! Wikipedisa says just "monks", not Jesuits. Would be nice to correct that in the post.

Damian Beanato, Buenos Aires, Argentina
October 16, 2012 11:18am

I am SO HAPPY to see that there are no wing-nuts here that are so deluded to support such BS.

The ghost-talkers, and UFO abductees are enough.

Matthew Bailey, Los Angeles
October 16, 2012 11:30am

That "history never existed" claim reminds me of one Boltzmann's hipothesis, in which the whole universe is a statistic fluctuation. And since the present universe is far more disordered - and hence far more probable - than the old universe, it follows that it's much more probable that the universe sprang in its present state a few seconds ago, bearing all the traces of non-existent old ages.

Oscar Ferro, Buenos Aires
October 16, 2012 11:36am

Honestly, I think all of this "phantom time" and revisionist history is nothing more than a self defense mechanism practiced by people who are mentally and/or emotionally incapable of accepting that there is nothing inherently special about them. The cloak of a conspiracy aimed at suppressing the "truth" of their beliefs is much more palatable than hard truths that demonstrate that they have devoted a great deal of time, energy and (in some cases) money to a cause that is absolutely without any foundation in reality.

Playing the victim in life's drama is something we have all done-who hasn't asked "Why me?" when some fervently hoped for circumstance has not materialized? The difference is that most of us, sulk and stew for a short while, get over it and move on. Those who do not seek support and agreement from others of like mind, and perpetuate a faceless, tyrannical "conspiracy" that is devoted to keeping them down.

Misery truly does love company, and what better way to garner sympathy than to tell others that their suffering is caused by some inimical entity, and not by their own unrealistic expectations or poor judgement?

Kneon, In ur base, killin ur doodz
October 16, 2012 11:57am

All we have to do is find Slartibartfast's signature on a Fjord in Norway and there will be proof of a young Earth.

Ben, SIoux Falls SD
October 16, 2012 11:58am

What is missing here is the "Why?"
Not the "Why?" of "Why should that time have been faked?" but "Why would people make up such a theory?"
Well, for Illig company we know sure enough: It's all part of the "Slavian lie" theory.

During the time which Illig sees as fake, the Slavian reign in Europe was at its peak. Most of what is now eastern and central Germany and all parts east of it where occupied by Slavian lords. Through war, christianisation, integration and assimilation those lords where either removed, or became part of the Holy Roman nobility - the same goes for the regular population. The Sorbians, a slavic language enclave in central Germany, are the only remaining group of that merging.

For right wing extremists, nationalists and nazis this has always been a problem, since this means a huge part of German population is of far-back Slavic ancestry. (In my area, locals often add on a lecture like that: "And that's why everyone is so ugly around here - just look at my wife!"). So with their phantom time Illig and company serve a special kind of public that wants proof that there were no Slavs on German territory, ever.

Felix Hummel, Regensburg, Germany
October 16, 2012 2:03pm

You last paragraph also fits proponents of AGW.

Peter, Plymouth, Devon, England
October 16, 2012 3:16pm

I'm thrilled to see that this episode has been made. I remember writing on the "Skeptoid episodes you'd like to see" JREF thread a couple of years back, and it seems my wish has been granted.

Collin, State College, PA
October 16, 2012 4:24pm

This was an amusing, interesting, and informative episode for me. However, the last paragraph conflates some crackpot theories with the crackpots who believe them, and presents the incorrect conclusion, that all of these theories are "outside the realm of science", because they are not testable or disprovable. (With the caveat, that in science, "proof" often means "preponderance of evidence".)

In fact, Brian presents several of these theories in a way that is both testable and disprovable. And he tests and disproves them! What we have in several cases is not untestable theories, but proponents of testable theories who deny or ignore evidence. This distinction is important, and divides the world of crackpot theories, and crackpots themselves, into significant subgroups. Some theories are inherently untestable, and are indeed unscientific. Some are very difficult to test, and give wide latitude to anyone who wants to make random assertions. Some theories are testable with effort. Some are easy to test. The "flat earth" theory falls into the last category, while "young earth" and "phantom time" fall into the third.

Similarly, adherents and proponents of crazy ideas are sometimes simply misinformed and/or uneducated, sometimes unwilling to accept data and logic, and sometimes knowingly committing fraud, for one purpose or another.

It is an error to lump these groups together, and address all of them with the same approach.

Derek, Santa Fe, NM
October 16, 2012 4:35pm

How on Earth would the Jesuits, or any other group of Western numpties, get a hold of every historical bit of writing from the Far East, including Japan and China, and alter them to make a thousand years of false history appear? Where did all those emperors and kings and queens fit in? This is a ridiculous story, unless we are all living in 'The Matrix'.

Arisuta, kurashiki
October 16, 2012 4:36pm

There is, however, a good chance that history was tampered with before year 1. [Fnord] probably added in and subtracted a few great civilizations, people, and prehistoric eras.

sebastian elverskogg, Dallas, TX
October 16, 2012 8:04pm

This would be a great title for a Big Bang Theory episode!

Gerard, Utrecht, The Netherlands
October 17, 2012 1:59am

There are probably a whole gang of historians ready to voice their displeasure at the comment about the lack of either building or literature in the "Dark Ages". The Viking Eddas, Anglo-Saxon poetry, Frankish literature, extraordinary manuscripts - not just the pretty ones - trade in various art goods. Romanesque cathedrals and complex castles, developments in agriculture. That doesn't even begin to assess the extraordinary scientific and artistic achievements of Muslim culture at the time. The joke is that people didn't wake up one day in 350 CE and say "Oh, it's the Dark Ages, I have to be stupid, superstitious and miserable" any more than they woke up in 1350 CE and said "It's the Renaissance I have to shed my brutish ways and invent culture again."

Terry Nordoff-Perusse, Canada
October 17, 2012 9:19am

This one is so unapologetically loopy that it seems a shame to debunk it. Like critiquing a kindergartener's artwork. We should just savor the fractal insanity.

It's also nice to see that there are still a handful of people who believe Jesuits have superpowers. That used to be the default conspiracy theory for anyone who wasn't inclined to blame the Jews for everything.

Anyone who enjoyed this article should check out Jorge Luis Borges's story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" about a similar project.

Cambias, Massachusetts
October 17, 2012 10:14am

Hi! Was my correction on the 13-century "Jesuits" deleted? Why, please?

Damian Beanato, Buenos Aires, Argentina
October 17, 2012 11:15am

"Kneon, In ur base, killin ur doodz"

This signature is 100% win. Moar, plz!

Government Goodies, Secret Government Lab
October 17, 2012 1:54pm

Well, you know, I have my doubts... (like in The Cask of Amontillado). Does China exist, after all, and ancient Greece, and ancient Rome ? Maybe these have always been planted into our pseudo-memories by the Great Lizards who are even now conquering the world!
Good point about this reference to a masterpiece, "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and of course "The Library of Babel" in which you are definitely convinced that such centuries did not exist - and also that they existed, and that many more centuries and millenia existed too, and that they were completely different from what we know, and that the Great Lizards are really Lesser Twits, but with a vengeance. They are out to conquer, us, all beware!

cdc, Bruxelles, Belgium
October 17, 2012 2:03pm

This was pretty interesting, but is it possible that maybe somewhere along the line a month or a year was lost? Perhaps not even all at once, but piecemeal in separate incidents?

Anonymous, utopia
October 17, 2012 6:34pm

There was, however, a little mistake when the church adapted the Annus Domini (the count of the years since Jesuchrist was born) to the roman calendar (calculated since the founding of Roma, ab urbe condita).

The monk in charge of doing the maths to calculate in which roman year Jesus was born, Dionysius Exiguus, made a mistake of around four or five years while dating the period when Herod the Great had been king of Judea, puting it on 753 a.u.c. instead of around 748 a.u.c., thus substracting that number of years to the start of the Annus Domini.

So if Jesus existed as an historical figure and was born indeed under Herodes, he was born around five years before himself. Not exactly phantom time but trippy enough...

Leirus, Madrid
October 17, 2012 6:58pm

Brian, could you revisit your comment about technicians and archaeologists in this ep?

Whilst we do have senior technicians assisting with the day to day running of accelerators and those involved in maintenance the number of sample processing technical assistance is minimal.

The sample variation that is presented to a dating facility is so broad that a scientist (professional to principal) is required at each stage and running each processing, verification and conversion laboratory.

Its been assumed on skeptoid for far too long that somebody just sticks a sample into a machine and gets a number.

I was rather displeased that you propagated that in a way.

Dating is not just about archaeology, in fact its the minimum part of the endeavour.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
October 17, 2012 7:54pm

A theory must be disprovable if it is scientific. And the phantom time hypothesis, for better or for worse, is not scientific.
Just like Pauli said "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"

Yanis K., Grevena, Greece
October 18, 2012 11:33pm

The Fomenko's "New Chronology", as it is called, has one important point which is almost missing in this discussion (apart from Felix Hummel's comment, who shows it from the Germany side).
The whole idea of his theory is that history is wrong, because Russia (or Rus, to be more correct) used to be the greatest superpower some time ago and all of the world was under its rule. When countries became independent, ALL of them decided to forge history, not to remember about them being under the Rus rule. So history of China, Rome or Bible are just the Rus history, rewritten by forgers with changed names and dates.
The "New Chronology" is thus more about politics, and the idea of wrong history is only the tool to prove Russians, that they are the strongest nation in the world. That is one of the reasons, the "New Chronology" is popular in the Eastern Europe.
So this is not about science, it's just about ideology.

Dmytro Polovinkin, Lviv, Ukraine
October 19, 2012 1:07am

This is a real doozy of a conspiracy theory! Completely, gloriously off the wall - thanks for bringing it to my attention.
I was going to ask what possible motive the Jesuits would have for doing all this, but Dmytro seems to have provided that, and added one more superbly improbable twist to the whole mad edifice.

Harpo, Buenos Aires
October 19, 2012 6:37pm

I believe this gentleman can clear up any time related questions you may have.

I believe he is STILL offering $10000 to anyone who can successfully debunk his theories

Greg, Sydney
October 19, 2012 11:18pm

Ok which one of us can't count, Heribert Illig or me? (Or did Brian get it wrong?)
From the year 1 to the year 1582 the Gregorian calendar should be 12 days shorter than the Julian calendar and not 13. (There were 12 years both divisible by 100 and not by 400).
So what am I getting wrong here?

Shuka Bergman, Israel
October 20, 2012 10:59am

I love this one...I wasn't going to read it...but of course it explains everything.

This is why the PS 1 is brought out then the PS 2 etc etc in well orchestrated time intervals, to bleed us dry...The whole of history has happened and is being re-run and we are the fools for not noticing...I'm going to jump off a tall building and wake up a Neow Man!

Griff {My name is Neo}

Griff, uk
October 21, 2012 11:45pm

Brian - At the risk of sounding like an internet spelling and grammar troll, I have to gig you on your math: you state that "modern measurements tell us that (the Crab Nebula's progenitor star) exploded about 950 years ago..."

As the Crab Nebula is located in the Perseus arm of our galaxy, approximately 6500 light-years from us, I think modern measurements would tell us that the star went supernova approximately 7460 years ago, and was observed on Earth 958 years ago.

Other than that (completely trivial bit of nit-picking) it was a great podcast, making it all too obvious how so many people have way too much free time available that could actually be used for something (anything!) useful and productive.

Joseph Cottrell, Tooele, Utah
October 22, 2012 8:18am

Yet another good old fashioned conspiracy theory that like all of them fall apart with only a modicam of skeptical investigation.

I tell ya if the Catholic Church for instance wanted to change history to suit itself, then it did a really POOR job of it.

John Blackhall, Wonthaggi
October 25, 2012 1:48pm

Experience myself did. Did jesman or penial, yes jarkar af aleed.

Pen isman, Jakarta
November 1, 2012 11:59am

Everything is in fact even more strange than Fomenko suggests. Yes, history was inflated, but it wasn't falsified. Roman coins are still found, Greek statuettes digged up, complete with inscriptions.

You should ask yourself, why does Charlemagnes solidus coin show him off as a Roman emperor perfectly in the style of 3rd century, just for example? The coinage style of 9th century was already completely different, with the cross dominating.

Why does Constantine Porphyrogenetos biography of Basil the Macedonian mention the Diocletian uprise of Serbs in the 9th century, when Diocletian apparently lived in the 3rd century?

And there is a lot more of that stuff going on in history, don't you worry.

Inquirer, Carthago
December 5, 2012 4:20am

I find this theory interesting even if it has not been proven accurate.

Just as Dmytro Polovinkin mentioned, the theory is really a political statement regarding the rewriting of history. This happens rather frequently. A recent rewriting of the history books in the state of Texas, USA to refer to the slave trade as "Atlantic triangular trade" illustrates this point almost perfectly.

Jenn B, Ontario, Canada
December 22, 2012 10:51pm

So I'm guessing Fomenko's a comedian ... right?!

And to Inquirer of Carthago, may we have some sources on that? And seeing Brian provided 6 sources, to be fair I'll ask you for only the same number.

And Greg of Sydney, gee thanks for the link to mate! What may one say except ... um?! :| What a treat that was! But I'm guessing he's just off his meds? Maybe I'm just too "educated stupid" or "ONEish" to appreciate his flair, but one would think a standard 12-point font would have sufficed.

RDF, Victoria, Australia
January 19, 2013 3:40pm

Do the Chinese know that the Jesuits made up centuries of their history? 'Cause I'm fairly sure that they'd be a bit put out about that. I mean, really. If anybody is going to make up centuries of Chinese history, it should be the Chinese.

Yeah. Not seeing this one.

Sara, Salt Lake City
January 22, 2013 4:10pm

"A recent rewriting of the history books in the state of Texas, USA to refer to the slave trade as "Atlantic triangular trade" illustrates this point almost perfectly.

This doesn't mean anything useful.

Triangular trade was a thing. The term has been used for decades, so its not "recent." They use it in more places than Texas. I learned it 25 years ago in Pennsylvania. And the term exists because its accurate. The slave trade was only one arm of a three armed system. Its less academically correct to call it the slave trade because that ignores the vastly more profitable sugar trade. And, lastly, triangular trade is an easier term to grasp than Mercantilism, which is what fancy people call it.

Calling it the slave trade is the dumbed down inaccurate version. You SHOULD want them to call it triangular trade. It teaches more and explains the why of the slave trade, in far more accurate terms.

Another Nick, Alexandria VA
February 1, 2013 8:34am

It is clear the history has been tampered with. Whoever thinks the opposite is too naive. As for the Chinese history, the jesuits didn't need to falsify their history. We're talking about historical chronology. The Chinese adjusted their chronology to the European one, after the Europeans shared what had happened in their lands. Of course, the Europeans could have forged everything and could have added as many centuries as they wanted. People are illiterate back in the day, who would argue against it when there was no literary tradition and the Catholic church had the monopoly over these affairs? As for the coins, they are only dated to a particular century based on the already accepted chronology. They also were in circulation for many centuries after they were first minted. A coin from 2000 years ago could appear as an artifact in strata from the 15th century, consequently the strata could be considered ancient when in fact is not.

Peter, Salem,MA
May 20, 2013 8:00am

"RDF, Victoria, Australia", I gave you the sources, in the text itself. You can borrow the book in a university library, and you can find the coin on google.

Inquirer, Carthago
June 2, 2013 5:19am

There's room for shunts and shifts of decades within very poorly-recorded historical eras (because there were no records, or the records have disappeared, or because we have problems in equating different systems of dating - you name it). These are well-known, minutely debated and often hotly argued among professional historians concerned with those periods. The idea (Jesuit-inspired - Why does that ring alarm bells to a man brought up on James Joyce?) that whole swags of centuries have been simply made up - in historical times, ie when there are written histories from several cultures - is just one more moonbeam from the Larger Lunacy. Even Velikowsky, who was quite plausible if nothing else, couldn't make it work for second-millennium Egypt, where the checks are few, far-between and enigmatic ('Oedipus and Akhnaten'). I'm not sure if Borges knew of this ('Tlon;Uqbar;Urbis Tertius') or indeed contributed unwittingly to the lunacy, but he'd surely have appreciated the nonsense produced.

Rob Horne, Colombo, SL
June 25, 2013 1:33pm

Phantom time finds its source in people like me who never know what day it is in the absence of the weather channel and the daily newspaper and fail to worry about it.

Swampwitch, Gainesville Fl
July 24, 2013 3:49am

Swampwitch, I concur, its a great way to be. The only thing that disrupts this is unnecessary harassment from financial institutions sending disguised adverts dressed up as "mail" and tax time collecting financial institutions statements that probably were thrown away under the guise of "junk mail".

On the topic, it becomes difficult when reading things that are temporally mixed up. The use of the bible cant be held as any reference (especially the star of Bethlehem) as this is a temporal doozy written over 650 years yet incorporating rewritten myth and legend up to 2000 years before its eventual canons started to be redacted.

The strange thing is, the bible is written honestly in a way that people used a pseudo history partly as allegory to a single end (adam to judea) and partly to establishment (Ezra/Nehemiah). in the Hebrew bible and establishing a mythology that appears to be written after the prime new testament author recorded a "visitation".

Brian has some great skeptoids that cover myth and legend and a doozy that draws on the very heart of the establishment myth (the ark of the covenant).

Malua Daintee, Gerringong NSW Oz
August 28, 2013 6:16am

I do think there is a missing chunk of history but not during the early middle ages probably earlier than that to those times when most of the lost civilizations flourished and the time the piri reis map was created also with all the mysteries of advanced ancient civilizations i dont really think aliens did it some one during those times was a genius and took the technology with them to their deaths those times are not really recorded and those are the times i think are missing

AB, San Mateo CA
September 11, 2013 3:12pm

AB - interested in your post; the Piri Reis map was produced in early sixteenth century Turkey, and utilized some of Columbus's early drawings of the Caribbean; it is fairly inaccurate in every respect, but not bad for a Renaissance attempt.
Otherwise, what you are attempting to talk about is not 'history' - since history requires understandable and explicable records - but 'prehistory'. which by definition is before any accessible written records.
There were no 'advanced' Atlantean or whatever civilizations ('civilization', again, has a precise meaning, which includes the ability to record its own progress). The earliest cultures which developed civilized societies were in fourth or fifth century BCE Mesapotamia, Anatolia and - possibly - Egypt. All this is a matter of record, and there is little or no room for doubt about it.
Your 'desperately seeking "whoo whoo"' pretend history is one more sign of the dissolution of real research and critical thinking in the 21st century world.

Rob Horne, Colombo, SL
November 16, 2013 3:02pm

Never heard of this one before. Pretty funny! Also I was surprised to learn (but probably ought not to have been) that the 'Men in Black' movie was mining an entertaining mother lode of codswallopry that already existed. (But they mined it in a brilliantly inventive and entertaining manner, well done indeed, let's have more such!)
Someone please contact the Screenwriter's Guild, this one has real possibilities.

Craig, Butcher
January 2, 2014 12:52pm

Thankyou Brian, the hard science in this episode was beautifully and logically explained.

The idea that an argument is ceases to have scientific validity if it is presented in a way such that it can never be disproved due to special pleading excuses such as "there is a massive conspiracy to conceal the truth and what appears to be solid evidence has actually been faked by people in on the conspiracy" is of profound importance to the modern world. Such pseudoscience is of course the central tenet of climate-change deniers. While it is easy to make fun of ideas as wacky as "the phantom time hypothesis", it is sobering to think that "the greenhouse conspiracy" is taken seriously by a frighteningly large proportion of political and business leaders and media commentators worldwide. The consequences for global climate change may be profound. Sometimes conspiracy theories are no joke.

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GiaU99121699, Apucarana
April 2, 2015 5:42pm

Telescopes exist only 400 years by now:
...thus the alleged cosmological observations from 1054 would easily be Jesuit fabrications of the cultures which deep historicity Fomenko claims to be Phantom.
"First, contrary to the single ring per year paradigm, alternating poor and favorable conditions, such as mid-summer droughts, can result in several rings forming in a given year. In addition, particular tree species may present "missing rings", and this influences the selection of trees for study of long time spans."

Engineer, Germany
July 5, 2015 3:22pm

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