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Three missing centuries | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There is a theory that maintains that our human history includes three “false” centuries. This is the conclusion drawn by the German researchers Hans-Ulrich Niemitz and Heribert Illig, which they called “The Phantom Time Hypothesis”.

In this theory, the two researchers claim that approximately 297 fictitious years have been added to history, whereby the events of this period have formed an illusionary chronology. According to Niemitz and Illig, a historical conspiracy was instigated against the conventional chronology, a conspiracy with a political undercurrent, aiming to “rewrite” history from scratch.

The two researchers explain their theory by referring to a conspiracy that was woven throughout the course of history from Julius Caesar to the Byzantines. They claim that “phantom years” gradually went missing, and were not lost all at once. In other words, a decade may have gone missing here, or a century there, during the process of “recording and documenting the Byzantine era in the ninth century, or during the reign of Otto III [980 – 23 January 1002 AD, the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire], who artificially advanced the date of his rule to approach the year 1000 AD, a year he considered symbolic.”

According to the theory, this major chronological “leakage” took place throughout the entire course of history, in which historians have complained of black undocumented “gaps” in preceding or succeeding periods. To support their idea, Niemitz and Illig cited evidence from the Byzantine period in the Middle East between 600 – 900 AD, during which the Byzantine and Islamic kingdoms were fighting one another in the Far East and the Mediterranean Basin.

Nevertheless, these conclusions remain an interesting theory and a subject of debate amongst scientists and specialists. The claim has not become a scientific fact, not even close to that.

Yet this piece of scientific news raises important questions such as: What if we chose to delete three centuries at once from our history? Would these three centuries be the era of submission to colonialism, in all its various forms and locations? Or would we omit the declining years of the Mamluk and Ottoman empires? Or would we delete the fierce struggles between the princes of various sects in Andalus, and consequently, the fall of Andalus? Or the breakup of the Abbasid Caliphate? Or what if we deleted the period in which we gained liberation and independence, and formed the modern nation state?

Are we now, in the time of Arab popular uprisings, finally patching together the garment of our history? Or are we further tearing apart an already ragged garment, and thus entering another black hole of history which will devour our events and facts?

Let us consider carefully such an exciting piece of news. How deceitful is history, and how illusionary is this age?