Phantom Time Hypothesis conspiracy theory meme example.

Phantom Time Hypothesis

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Updated Jul 20, 2023 at 01:47PM EDT by sakshi.

Added Jul 18, 2023 at 04:07PM EDT by sakshi.

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The Phantom Time Hypothesis is a conspiracy theory introduced to the public by German journalist Heribert Illig and historian Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz in 1991. The theory posits that a joint conspiracy between Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II and the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII fabricated the Anno Domini (A.D.) dating system in order to place their reign at exactly 1000 A.D. Illig's theory also asserts that this conspiracy, which would have required extensive forgeries of documentary and physical evidence, also led to the fabrication of an entire period of the Early Middle Ages. The Phantom Time Hypothesis, thus asserts that world rulers faked the historical period between 600 A.D. and 900 A.D. in order to place their reign at a more auspicious time in history.


In 1991, German Journalist Heribert Illig proposed a theory that was later supported by Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz in 1995,[3] saying that there was a conspiracy entered into back in 1000 A.D. to change the dating system by three world rulers. Illig asserts that Pope Sylvester II, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III and Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII came together to add 297 years to the calendar and make it seem as if Otto had begun his reign in the millennial year of 1000 A.D., instead of 700 A.D. [1]

Heribert Illig's Claims

Illig points to several pieces of evidence to buttress his claims, including the supposed scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be dated to 614-911 A.D. He asserts that the lasting presence of Roman architecture in tenth-century Western Europe implies that the Roman era was closer chronologically than conventionally believed. Illig also asserts that discrepancies due to the introduction of the Gregorian calendar can account for roughly three centuries that never existed being added to calendars.[2]

Scholarly Refutations

There is significant scholarly and scientific consensus that refutes Illig's claims. There exists extensive historical documentation of Roman Emperor Charlemagne's reign between 768-814 A.D., despite Illig's assertion that he was a King Arthur-esque myth. There also exists extensive historical documentary of the Tang dynasty in China and the Islamic Expansion into Iberia. Moreover, scientific methods such as radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology, when combined with historical accounts of astronomical events like eclipses, offer a clear timeline of events that stretches back nearly 10,000 years.[4][5][6]


Throughout the 2020s, the conspiracy theory spread online and became increasingly viral as it was covered by content creators or discussed in various communities. For example, on April 9th, 2020, YouTuber[7] Half as Interesting posted a video covering the theory, gathering 3.4 million views in three years (seen below, left). On July 26th, 2021, YouTuber[8] The Why Files then posted a video covering the theory as well, gathering over 2.1 million views in two years (seen below, right).

On July 14th, 2023, Redditor[9] Hashkovo posted the Wikipedia article covering the conspiracy theory to /r/TIL with the caption, "TIL the Phantom time Conspiracy theory claims the time period AD 614 to 911 never existed. The Theory claims these extra 300 years of History were fabricated in the middle ages to legitimize Otto's claim over the Holy Roman Empire. According to the theory we should be living in the year 1726." The post gathered over 28,000 upvotes in four days (seen below).

28.8k TIL the Phantom time Conspiracy theory claims the time period AD 614 to 911 never existed. The Theory claims these extra 300 years of History were fabricated in the middle ages to legitimise Otto's claim over the Holy Roman Empire. According to the theory we should be living in the year 1726. ( submitted 4 days ago by Hashkovo 1907 comments share save hide give award report crosspost hide all child comments Phantom time conspiracy theory MON IM The phantom time hypothesis claims Charlemagne did not exist. The phantom time conspiracy theory is a pseudohistorical conspiracy theory first asserted by Heribert Illig in 1991. It hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII,[further explanation needed] to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retroactively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history to legitimize Otto's claim to the Holy Roman Empire. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence. According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a "phantom time" of 297 years (AD 614-911) added to the Early Middle Ages. Evidence contradicts the hypothesis and it failed to gain the support of historians, and calendars in other European countries, most of Asia and parts of pre-Columbian America contradict this. W hosted on wikipedia

Various Examples

@aslanpahari #stitch with @kmythology #history #learn #facts ♬ To The Grand Line – ASLAN PAHARI

@stakuyi The phantom time theory: medieval europe was not a thing? #education #history #nerd #learnontiktok #story #medieval ♬ original sound – Steven Bell

Search Interest

External References

[1] All That's Interesting – Phantom Time Hypothesis

[2] Public Medievalist – Time Bandits

[3] Hanz Ulrich – Did The Early Middle Ages Really Exist

[4] Β Public Medievalist – Time Bandits

[5] Internet Archive – Is A Chunk Of History Missing

[6] Straight Dope – Did The Middle Ages Really Not Happen

[7] YouTube – Half As Interesting

[8] YouTube – The Why Files

[9] Reddit – /r/todayilearned

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Top Comments


"Hey guys, what if hundreds of years of history around the world were made up solely to make a specific German ruler look slightly cooler in the history books?"

"What about the rise of Islam? Or the Chinese Tang dynasty? Or the Bulgarian Empire? Or the collapse of the Mayans? Or that time Tibet made the largest empire in the world?"

"Oh, they were obviously all in cahoots!"


so maybe I'm just missing something here, but… assuming this is real and really happened (nevermind the records of every other civilization)
what then? Does this affect my life? does this affect these people's lives? Is anyone who would have directly benefited from this still alive today?

is it because the year numbers no longer actually line up with their fancy interdimensional apocalypse prophecies featuring the alien demons from the bible DLC book of Enoch? cause that's my best guess.


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