3 Heribert Illig


Heribert Illig

Heribert Illig (born 1947 in Vohenstrauß) is a German Systems analyst and is the leading proponent of the phantom time hypothesis, put forward in 1996, in which he asserts that the Early Middle Ages did not exist and that the approximately 300 years between 614 and 911 are an invention. If this hypothesis held true, we would not be living in the early 21st century, but the early 18th century.

Illig’s thesis is, in a sense, the logical outcome of discoveries made since the age of scientific archaeology began around 150 years ago. Archaeologists of the nineteenth century expected to find a general impoverishment of culture during the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries: this, after all, was the Dark Age, during which time the barbarian Goths, Vandals and Huns had destroyed Roman civilization. Yet the progress of historical investigation has proved this picture to be untrue; and it is now widely accepted that there was no general destruction after the Gothic and Vandal takeovers. On the contrary, these peoples tried hard to preserve the civilization of Rome – as the magnificent basilicas of the Gothic King Theodoric the Great (fith/sixth century) show only too well. This is to be expected, and we could hardly expect a barbarian prince to choose to live in a smoke and mosquito-infested mud hut, when he could reside in a centrally-heated and marble-walled Roman palace.

Yet what the archaeologists discovered in the ground brought the old Dark Age theory back to mind: For to their astonishment they found an almost complete absence of all archaeology during the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries. So complete was this Dark Age disappearing act that the Anglo-Saxons in England, apart from leaving very little remains of any kind, apparently even forgot how to make pottery for three centuries. And as if the absence of archaeology in western Europe was not bad enough, scholars now began to find the same feature in the Byzantine and Islamic worlds, where no one ever claimed a Dark Age had existed. Byzantine church architecture for example displayed an unbroken line of development from the foundation of Constantinople through the fifth and sixth centuries. But then, about forty years after the death of Justinian the Great, towards the beginning of the seventh century, there is a total and absolute break. Hardly a church or even artefact of any kind has been recovered from the next three centuries. Then, around 920, the sequence resumes, with the erection of churches and other structures on a fairly large scale. Yet basilicas from this period look almost exactly like those from 600, though nothing exists in the intervening centuries. In the words of Cyril Mango, “To this day over 250 Byzantine churches survive in Greece, a number which, as a bare statistic, is remarkable. Of the total number, 53 belong to the Early Byzantine period (mostly excavated ruins); one, the Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, belongs to the Dark Age [seventh/eighth centuries] ; four belong to the 9th century, perhaps 15 to the 10th century, 33 to the 11th and 49 to the 12th.” Even the paltry four that are said to belong to the ninth century are questionable. According to Mango, we need to be careful about the real date of any churches assigned to the seventh, eighth, or ninth centuries. As an example, he refers to one church previously believed to belong to the ninth century: “ … it has emerged that the church known by the Turkish name Kalenderhane Camii, which was unhesitatingly dated to the middle of the 9th century, actually belongs in the late 12th century,” and the real number of structures which can, “with any degree of certainty be assigned to the second half of the ‘dark centuries’ [ninth] is extraordinarily small.” In short, an admission from one of the most prominent Byzantine historians of our time that virtually nothing exists for three centuries. It is precisely the same with the Islamic world. Egypt was the largest and most populous Islamic country during the Middle Ages. The Muslim conquest of the country occurred in 638, and we should expect the invaders to have begun, almost immediately, using the wealth of the country to begin building numerous and splendid places of worship – but they didn’t. Only two mosques in the whole of Egypt, both in Cairo, are said to date from before the eleventh century: the Amr ibn al-As, AD 641 and the Ahmad ibn Tulun, AD 878. However, the latter building has many features found only in mosques of the eleventh century, so its date of 878 is controversial. Thus, in Egypt, we have a single place of worship, the mosque of Amr ibn al-As, dating from three years after the Muslim conquest, then nothing for another three-and-a-half centuries. Why should the Muslims wait over 300 years before building themselves places of worship? And it is the same throughout the Islamic world. No matter where we go, from Spain to Iran, there is virtually nothing between circa 650 and 950. Spain, for example, is supposed to have witnessed a flowering of Islamic culture and civilization in th two centuries after the Arab conquest of 711; and the city of Córdoba is said to have grown to a sophisticated metropolis of half-a-million people or more. Yet according to the "Oxford Archaeological Guide", the city has revealed, after exhaustive excavations over the past half-century: (a) The south-western portion of the city wall, which was “presumably” of the ninth century; (b) A small bath-complex, of the 9th/10th century; and (c) A “part” of the Umayyad (8th/9th century) mosque. The poverty of these remains, from a reputedly half-million-strong metropolis, is striking; and the evidence seems to show that such a metropolis never existed. It would appear that we have a “dark age” in regions where there was no collapse of civilization – where no dark age should exist.

Against this complete gap of three centuries, there is a stunning continuity with the world of Late Antiquity in the material remains of the tenth and eleventh centuries. These look remarkably like those of the sixth century. Kings and potentates of the tenth and eleventh centuries for example are frequently portrayed holding court in Roman-style palaces or villas. This is found throughout the Carolingian and Ottonian period, and is even in evidence on the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which illustrates the Norman Conquest of England. Here both Duke William and King Harold are shown in their palaces, which are clearly in the style of Roman villas.

All this of course is to be expected, if, as Illig says, three hundred non-existent years have been added to history; and the Norman Conquest took place not in 1066, but around 766.

Books by Heribert Illig

* "Die veraltete Vorzeit", Eichborn, 1988
* "Hat Karl der Große je gelebt?", Mantis, 1996
* "Das erfundene Mittelalter. Die größte Zeitfälschung der Geschichte", Econ 1996, ISBN 3-430-14953-3
* "Das Friedell-Lesebuch", C.H. Beck 1998, ISBN 3-406-32415-0
* Mit Franz Löhner: "Der Bau der Cheopspyramide", Mantis 1998, ISBN 3-928852-17-5
* "Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht?", Ullstein 2003, ISBN 3-548-36476-4
* with Gerhard Anwander: "Bayern in der Phantomzeit. Archäologie widerlegt Urkunden des frühen Mittelalters.", Mantis 2002, ISBN 3-928852-21-3
* with Gunnar Heinsohn: "Wann lebten die Pharaonen?", Mantis, 2003 ISBN 3-928852-26-4
*"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

See also

* Phantom time hypothesis


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