The articles to follow will examine the question of the so-called 'Dark Age' of the early Middle Ages, a period of three centuries (between the years 615 and 915), which never existed at all and which were inserted into our calendar by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, in order to legitimize the assumption of the title of 'Roman Emperor' by a German dynasty. As such, it will be shown that we are now living in the early eighteenth century (1718, to be precise, as of the writing of this passage). All dates, in fact, after the early tenth century, need to be reduced by 300 years, with the result, for example, that the Norman Conquest of England occurred in the year 766 rather than 1066.

Three Phantom Centuries

Proof that three hundred years have been added to our calendar is demonstrated fairly concusively by the eclipse record. Using the latest computer technology, astronomers have been able to calculate the precise time of every solar eclipse visible from anywhere in the world over the past few thousand years. Historians have compared these retrocalculated events with the record of eclipses as reported by ancient authors, and have been astonished by the total disagreement between the two. Not a single solar eclipse reported by a Greek or Roman author has been found to correspond with a retrocaluclated eclipse as calculated by modern science. 

 However, if we assume that all events of Greek and Roman history occurred three hundred years closer to our time, the two sources display astonishing agreement. Consider for example the total eclipse visible in Rome during the funeral of Nero's mother, as reported by Dio Cassius. This eclipse, a spectacular event, was viewed as an ill-omen by the populace. It occurred, we are told, in April 58 A.D. Strangely, however, modern science can report no eclipse visible in Rome on that date - or anywhere near that date. However, if these events occurred three hundred years closer to our time, we might expect scientists to expect a total eclipse visible in Rome in 358 A.D. What then does the record say? The record is clear: According to modern science, a total eclipse of the sun would have been visible in Rome in the Spring of 358 A.D., precisely three hundred years closer to our time.

 Numerous other ancient astronomical events, which currently cannot be confirmed, are similarly seen to find their proper place in history once they are brought three hundred years closer to our time.

 Perhaps the most interesting of these is the Star of Bethlehem, the wonderful cosmic body visible, we are told, shortly after the birth of Christ.

The Star of Bethlehem

Historians tell us that Jesus was born sometime between 4 and 7 B.C. According to the Gospel of Matthew a spectacular star, which seemed to hover over the land of Israel, was visible sometime after Jesus' birth, maybe a year or two after (this is indicated by Herod's decision to kill all baby boys in Bethlehem of two years or under).

Over the centuries scholars of every kind, historians, theologians, and astronomers, have speculated endlessly over the star mentioned in the Gospel. Numerous writers have suggested a comet of some kind, with Halley's Comet - the brightest of all such bodies - often identified as the star in question. It is known that Halley's Comet regularly visits the inner solar system (its perihelion) every 74 to 79 years. Retrocalculating the body's appearances back to the time of Christ, historians have sought to tie in its wanderings to Christ's birth. Unfortunately however such endeavours have proved fruitless. No matter which date given for Jesus' birth, whether it be 7, 6, 5, or 4 B.C., Halley's Comet was nowhere in the vicinity at the time. Nor was it in the vicinty anywhere near the lifetime of Christ.

If however we assume that all events of antiquity occurred 300 years closer to our own time, a very different picture emerges. Bearing in mind that Jesus was born between 7 and 4 B.C., we might expect an appearance of Halley's Comet (if in fact it was the Star of Bethlehem) not in 300 A.D., but anywhere between 293 and 296 A.D. What then do the astronomers tell us? They tell us that in 295 A.D. Halley's Comet would have been spectacularly visible from the earth, and that it would have occupied a position in the western skies just after sunset for several weeks in the Spring of that year.

Bearing this in mind, we note that the Wise Men who visited the child Jesus were from the East - presumably Magi from Persia or Babylonia. Israel was the land lying due west of Babylon, so it is highly probable that astrologers or astronomers from that region would have seen the comet as sitting over Israel and therefore associated its appearance with that nation. Comets were universally viewed as harbingers of some great event, and it would appear that the Magi viewed the comet standing over Israel as proof of some great event connected with that country.

The Archaeological Gap between the Seventh and Tenth Centuries

It is a fact that there are virtually no archaeological remains dating between the seventh and tenth centuries. Usually the gap is from the first quarter of the seventh century until the first quarter of the tenth, though occasionally the hiatus commences in the mid-seventh century and ends in the mid-tenth. Although scholars, raised on the notion of a 'Dark Age' in Europe, had expected a decline in culture at that time, they did not expect a complete absence of all signs of human life. It was believed that the 'Barbarian' peoples who overthrew the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century would certainly have caused a deterioration in urban civilization, but no one dreamed that they would have erased all traces of human life!

Yet that is apparently what they did.

But the problem becomes even stranger when we realise that the 'Barbarians' did not destroy Roman civilization. On the contrary, they did everything in their power to preserve it - as has now become evident from the flourishing late Roman cities of the Visigothic epoch (fifth to seventh centuries) now being unearthed in Spain, as well as the impressive late Roman centres of the Merovingian and Ostrogothic periods (also fifth to seventh centuries) being identified by archaeologists in France and Italy.

In England, the construction of a church at Canterbury by Augustine's mission in the late sixth century was followed by a flurry of church-building throughout the Anglo-Saxon lands in the first half of the seventh century. Incredibly however, the newly-converted Anglo-Saxons then ceased all church-building until the middle of the tenth century - almost exactly three hundred years later.

It is precisely the same story in Spain, France, and Italy. The late Roman church-building of the sixth and early seventh century ceases entirely for three hundred years, only to recommence with the Roman-style 'Romanesque' church-building of the tenth century. And, as the terminology suggests, the architecture and culture of the tenth century looks remarkably similar to the architecture and culture of the seventh. Even worse, where continuously-occupied settlements have been excavated, it has been found that the tenth century remains sit directly on top of those of the seventh, without any intervening gap. Thus both the startigraphy and the culture show direct continuity between the two epochs, as if one followed on directly from the other. 

But if the occupation hiatus exposed by archaeology has caused problems in Europe, the discovery of precisely the same gap in the Byzantine and Islamic worlds (which were not overrun by Barbarian tribes) has caused utter consternation.

The 'Dark Age' in the Byzantine and Islamic Worlds

Historians might have expected a decline of culture in Europe between the seventh and tenth centuries, but they most certainly did not expect the same thing in the Byzantine and Islamic worlds. No Barbarians, after all, had rampaged through the streets of Constantinople or Antioch or Alexandria. And in line with the written histories which have come down to us, they expected the precise opposite: A flourishing urban and intellectual life. Indeed, until very recently, the seventh to tenth centuries were viewed as a 'Golden Age' in the histories of the Byzantine and Islamic civiliations. Consider the words of historian Sidney Painter, written in 1953, describing the Byzantine world between the seventh and tenth centuries: These were, he says, "three centuries of glory", and remarked that during this time, "The Byzantine Empire was the richest state in Europe, the strongest military power, and by far the most cultivated." We are further informed that, "During these three centuries while Western Europe was a land of partly tamed barbarians, the Byzantine Empire was a highly civilized state where a most felicitous merger of Christianity and Hellenism produced a fascinating culture." (Painter, A History of the Middle Ages, 284-1500, (1953), p. 35)

 These words were written before archaeology had made any significant impact upon the academic consensus. But what a difference three decades of excavation makes. Writing in 1980 of the very same epoch so extravagantly praised by Painter, Byzantine specialist Cyril Mango notes: "One can hardly overestimate the catastrophic break that occurred in the seventh century." He notes, furthermore, "a dramatic rupture in the seventh century, sometimes in the form of virtual abandonment." The evidence, as Mango sees it, is unmistakable: the "catastrophe" (as he names it) of the seventh century "is the central event of Byzantine history." (Mango, Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome, (1980), p. 9)

Even bronze coinage, the everyday lubricant of commercial life, disappeared. It did not reappear "until the latter part of the tenth century." (Ibid., p. 73)

 So much for the Byzantine 'Golden Age', but what about the Islamic? Here again the written sources seem to describe a flourishing civilization between the seventh and tenth century - and again, on the strength of these, historians have waxed lyrical about Islam's 'Golden Age'. Consider for example the words of historian H. St. L. B. Moss, in 1935, describing the Spanish Emirate of Cordoba, supposedly of the early eighth to tenth centuries: "In Spain ... the foundation of Umayyad power [in 756] ushers in an era of unequalled splendour, which reaches its height in the early part of the tenth century. The great university of Cordova is thronged with students ... while the city itself excites the wonder of visitors from Germany and France. The banks of the Guadalquivir are covered with luxurious villas, and born of the ruler's caprice rises the famous Palace of the Flower, a fantastic city of delights." Moss, The Birth of the Middle Ages; 395-814 (1935), p. 172) 

 The picture Moss paints is derived from medieval Arab writers, who spoke of a city of half a million inhabitants, of three thousand mosques, of one hundred and thirteenth thousand houses, and of three hundred public baths - this not even counting the twenty-eight suburbs said to have surrounded the metropolis.

 Over the past sixty years intensive efforts have been made to uncover this astonishing civilization - to no avail. Try as they might, archaeologists have found hardly anything, hardly a brick or inscription, for the two centuries prior to the mid-tenth, at which point remains are attested - though even then nothing remotely on the scale described by the Arab historians. According to the prestigious Oxford Archaeological Guide, Cordoba, the capital of the Emirate, has revealed, after exhaustive excavations: (a) The south-western portion of the city wall, which is presumed to date from the ninth century; (b) A small bath-complex, of the ninth/tenth century, and (c) A part of the Umayyad (8th/9th century) mosque. This is all that can be discovered from two centuries of the history of a city of supposedly half a million people. By way of contrast, consider the fact that Roman London, a city not one-tenth the size that eighth and ninth century Cordoba is said to have been, has yielded hundreds of first class archaeological sites. And even the three locations mentioned in the Guide are open to question. The city wall portion is only "presumably" of the ninth century, whilst the part of the mosque attributed to the eighth century is said to have been modelled by Abd' er Rahman I. However, the latter character sounds suspiciously like his namesake and supposed descendant Abd' er Rahman III, of the mid-tenth century, who indisputably made alterations to the mosque (which was originally the Cathedral of Saint Vincent).

 It begins to sound as if historians are involved in a desperate attempt to find something - anything - that can be attributed to the Dark Age centuries and are thereby assigning material of the tenth century back into the ninth and eight centuries. The very same process was noted and lamented by Richard Hodges and David Whitehouse in early medieval European archaeology. And the same two writers also note a complete archaeological blank in North Africa dating from the mid-seventh to mid-tenth centuries, which they describe as a "dark age" in the region. (Hodges and Whitehouse, Mohammed, Charlemagne, and the Origins of Europe, (1982). But there should be no Dark Age in the Islamic lands, nor in the Byzantine. That a Dark Age, a period of archaeological abandonment, occurs in both regions, is proof positive that something is seriously amiss.

 Before finishing, it should be noted that, as in Europe, the material culture found underneath the archaeological gap, at the beginning of the seventh century, looks identical to the material culture found above the gap, in the tenth century. So, for example, Byzantine basilicas follow a well-defined line of development until the first quarter of the seventh century, after which no basilicas are built until the first quarter of the tenth. But the tenth century basilicas are stylistically almost identical to those of the seventh.

How and Why were Three Hundred Years added to our Calendar?

It is commonly believed that the Anno Domini calendar, which counts the years from the birth of Christ, was adopted in the Roman Empire immediately after the Christianization of the Empire in the fourth century. But this was not the case. As a matter of fact, the A.D. system was not used at all in Europe until the tenth/eleventh century, and was not widely used until about the fourteenth century.

 The Romans of Classical times employed several different dating systems, one of which, Ab Urbe Condita ('from the founding of the city') claimed to count the years from the establishment of Rome by Romulus. Several other calendars, including the 'Alexandrian' were used simultaneously with this. The Alexandrian Calendar dated from the reign of Alexander the Great. All of these systems continued to be used after the Christianization of the Empire, with the addition of one other, based on the Bible. This was the Anno Mundi ('Age of the World') calendar. This latter claimed to date the age of the earth based on the lifespans of biblical Patriarchs encountered in the Book of Genesis and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. The age of the earth was of great interest to early Christians, because it was assumed that Christ's return would occur after six thousand years. This latter notion was ultimately based on a statement by Saint Peter that to God "a thousand years is as a day", with the six days of Creation being analagous to the six thousand years of earth history. And, just as Genesis has God resting on the seventh day, it was assumed that the seventh millennium would see the glorious reign of Christ over the world.

 So, for early Christians, the important information was not the length of time which had elapsed since the birth of Christ, but the length of time that had elasped since the creation of the world.

 The problem with using the Bible to date the earth's antiquity was that Genesis is by no means clear when one generation of Patriarchs ends and another begins. In addition, different versions of the Bible gave different figures. In this way, it was argued by one school of biblical scholarship in the fourth century that the world was 5,000 years old, whereas another and competing school argued that it was 5,300 years old. And other schools gave other dates.

 When the Western Empire was abolished in the fifth century, its provinces came to be ruled by various Germanic dynasties. Gaul, for example, was largely under the control of the Franks. Spain was ruled by the Visigoths, whilst Italy came under the dominion of the Ostrogoths and North Africa under that of the Vandals. All of these kingdoms employed differing and often competing calendars, and with the disappearance of the centralized Roman bureaucracy there was little chance of agreement. 

 The Germanic kings of the West may have controlled the Western provinces, but they were not entirely free of the control of the Empire, which still existed in the East and had its capital in Constantinople. The Germanic kings minted their own coins, but these were invariably emblazoned with the likeness of the Eastern Emperor. The latter may not have possessed the military capacity to compel the obedience of the Germanic kings, but he had the money to hire one king against another, should any of them display too much independence. Only during the sixth century, under Justinian, was there a serious attempt to exert direct control of the West using military force. And it was at that time too that a Germanic king - Theodahat of the Franks - briefly declared himself Emperor of the West and minted coins with his own likeness on them. This latter was viewed by the writer Procopius as an appalling sign of decline and decay.

 The Germanic kings then would perhaps have liked to style themselves Western Emperors, but they were rightly wary of Constantinople's reaction should they do so. Things changed however in the first quarter of the seventh century, when Constantinople lost virtually all of her Asian and North African territories to first the Persians and then the Arabs. These events shattered Byzantium's power and made conditions ripe for a revival of the Western Empire under a Germanic king. We are told that this did not occur until the reign of Carl the Great (Charlemagne) in 800 A.D., almost two centuries later, but, if Heribert Illig is correct, it happened much sooner than that.

 By the middle of the seventh century, a Frankish king of the eastern Merovingian realms, a man named Otto (Otto I), had achieved dominance throughout most of what we now call France and western Germany. After crushing the Avars (also known as Magyars) at the Battle of Lechfeld, Otto gained control of most of northern and central Italy; and, in 662 (supposedly 962), was crowned Emperor of the West in Rome by Pope John XII. As noted above, Otto was able to do this because by the mid-seventh century the power of Constantinople was broken. The West was now able to detach itself politically and religiously from the East. Yet as a German, Otto felt something of a usurper. He needed a precedent, an earlier German king who had donned the Imperial Purple, and he found this is Theodahat, the Frankish king who, a hundred years earlier, had battled against Justinian and briefly proclaimed himself Emperor. And the figure of Theodahat was somewhat confused with an even earlier and more powerful Germanic king, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, who had ruled the whole of Italy and much of Gaul during the late fifth and early sixth century. Both these kings had described themselves as a "Carl", a Warrior.

 Otto I therefore styled himself as the legitimate successor to this earlier Carl and inaugurated a cult of Carl the Great, (Charlemagne) the first Holy Roman Emperor. 

 Yet this historical appropriation was not without problems. Although Theodahat and Theodoric were powerful kings who had defied the Emperor in the East, neither had been formally crowned Emperor by the Pope. The solution was to elevate "Carl" into a separate king, with his own dynasty. Along with his own dynasty he would also need a couple of centuries in which his dynasty could flourish. This was the solution arrived at by Otto I's grandson Otto III, who in the latter years of the seventh century formally introduced a new calendar in which a space could be found for the Great Carl and his family.

 And there was another issue on Otto III's mind. As a deeply religious man he had noted the rapid spread of the Christian faith throughout Europe, which to him was, of course, virtually the whole world. This was in line from a statement in the New Testament to the effect that the Second Coming of Christ would occur when the Gospel had been preached to all nations. Otto III and his learned observers therefore, together with Pope Sylvester, decreed that the third year of his reign would mark the year 6000 of the earth's history and the year 1000 since the birth of Christ. As such, Otto III was placing himself at the dawn of the Millennium, the final thousand years of Christ's glorious reign over the world.

 Otto III was able to get away with this calendrical sleight of hand for the simple reason that in those days most people were illiterate and 'History' as we now understand it - namely a body of literature with an agreed chronology and sequence of events - simply did not extist. The few people who could read - mainly clerics - possessed various chronicles and annals written by Greek and Latin authors, but these men did not date the events they described in any agreed chronological sequence. These were instead dated to the reign of the Emperor or King then on the throne, or to the Olympiads, or to the Age of the World as found in the Bible. And of the latter there were many conflicting estimates.

 So, in a premodern world, the declaration by Otto III that January 1 of the third year of his reign marked the year 1000 Anno Domini, caused little comment and, fully endorsed by the Pope and the Church, was accepted with little if any resistance.  


The Seventh and Tenth Centuries: Duplicated Events and Duplicated Personalities

It is striking that the major events and personalities of the seventh century seem to reoccur in the tenth century. This is true with regard to the history of Europe and also of the Islamic world. Consider the following: In the late sixth century a nomadic people from Central Asia, the Avars, gained control of the Hungarian Plain and launched raids throughout Western Europe. Shortly aferwards, a Germanic people named the Langobards invaded Italy and established control of most of the country. Three hundred years later (supposedly) another people from Central Asia, the Magyars, gained control of the Hungarian Plain and launched raids throughout Western Europe, while shortly afterwards, a Germanic people named the Langobards (now called Lombards) gained control of most of Italy. 

When we look France we see the same pattern. The Merovingian kings of the seventh century, with names like Clothar and Clovis, sound very much like the Carolingian kings of the tenth century, with names like Lothar and Lovis (Louis). And of course the names are identical: Lothar and Lovis are simply variants of the names Clothar and Clovis, with the initial 'c' omitted. (Both names had in fact a large number of spelling variants, with Clothar for example also written as Chlothair, Clotaire, Chlothar, etc.).

Scandinavia too presents a similar picture. Here we find a Viking settlement of the seventh century at Staraja Ladoga in north-west Russia doing business with the Islamic Caliphate, a fact proven by the occurrence there of seventh-century Islamic coins. In fact, hoards of Islamic coins, many dating from the seventh century, have been found throughout Scandinavia. Yet this is strongly reminiscent of the important Scandinavian trade conducted with the Islamic world during the tenth century, when huge numbers of European slaves were sold by the Vikings to the Muslim Caliphate.

The Islamic world itself displays the same patterns of duplication, often in its case between the eighth century and the eleventh. Consider the fact, for example, that the first Islamic invasion of India, supposedly around 710, was conducted by a leader named Muhammad bin Qasim. However, precisely three centuries later the same areas of India were conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni, who is also commonly listed as the first Islamic conqueror of India. Note too the striking similarities of the two names; Ghazni and Qasim.

At the other end of the Islamic world we find a similar pattern. So, for example, Abd' er Rahman I, of the mid-eighth century, who did work on the Great Mosque at Cordoba, sounds very similar to his supposed descendant, Abd' er Rahman III, of the mid-tenth century, who also did work on the Great Mosque. Even worse, the sons and grandsons of both men sound like mirror images of each other. Thus Abd' er Rahman I had a son named Hisham I and a grandson named Al-Hakam I, whilst Abd' er Rahman III had a son named Al-Hakam II and a grandson named Hisham II. Worst of all, whilst almost nothing belonging to Abd' er Rahman I has ever been found by archaeologists, rich remains dating from the epoch of Abd' er Rahman III have been recovered.

From all of this, it seems fairly clear that three centuries without history were 'filled in' by duplicating (and in some cases triplicating) real people who actually lived in the tenth and early eleventh centuries. And this occurred both in the Christian and Islamic worlds.