Why Some People Think We're Actually Living In The Year 1725

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asian man sitting at a desk looking at a calendar

If you’ve ever felt like society seems to be taking two steps back in time with every one step forward, according to a viral TikTok, that may actually be because we’re living in the year 1725.

What is the Phantom Time Hypothesis?

The TikToker introduces the Phantom Time Hypothesis, a conspiracy theory she says claims “that the Middle Ages in fact didn’t exist and we are actually living in the 18th century.”

She goes on to explain that time didn’t quite add up when society switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar in the late 1500s, causing us to skip a big chunk of time — 300 years of time, to be exact.

The Phantom Time Hypothesis claims that this loss of time wasn’t a mistake and in fact a ploy to rewrite history.



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Heribert Illig first published the Phantom Time Hypothesis in 1991

According to Illig, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII conspired to adjust time to put them in the year AD 1000, giving Otto rights to rule the Holy Roman Empire. By fabricating physical evidence, the three effectively added three centuries to the Early Middle Ages.

Illig’s theory claims that there are a number of issues that suggest the time period of AD 614 - 911 doesn’t actually exist.

However, each claim has since been refuted.

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Phantom Time Hypothesis Debunked

1. A lack of archaeological evidence.

According to Illig, there’s no reliable archaeological evidence from the years AD 614 - 911. However, archaeologists claim that some dating methods such as tree-ring dating don’t support that claim.

Astronomical observations such as the solar eclipses recorded in 59 AD and 418 AD also don’t line up with Illig’s phantom time.

2. Historians have relied too heavily on written evidence.

Illig’s hypothesis suggests that written history can be easily fabricated, but historians note that if the entire time period truly did not exist, history would’ve had to have been fabricated across all empires, such as the rest of Europe and the Islamic and Chinese empires.

3. The discrepancy between the Gregorian and Julian calendars.

In a 1995 paper titled “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?,” Phantom Time Hypothesis sympathizer Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz explains that in calculating the new Gregorian calendar, Pope Gregory XIII miscalculated the date that the Julian calendar was correct, adjusting the calendar by 13 days instead of 10. According to Niemitz and Illig, this is proof that the Pope was counting 300 years that never truly existed.

However, historians claim that the Gregorian calendar was never meant to line up with the Julian calendar. Instead, it was adjusted to bring the Catholic celebration of Easter in line with the vernal equinox.

Though the Phantom Time Hypothesis has been debunked, the TikToker asks people to keep an open mind.

“I still believe it’s a fascinating theory,” she writes in the comments of her upload. “It makes you think that not everything is as it seems. There could be lots of history that was fabricated, not recorded, or taken out of the history books.”

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Micki Spollen is an editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.