Criticism of chronology – an unheard-of discipline?

Although the theses presented here will seem surprising to almost all readers -most scholars will agree that they have never heard of such a thing- they are, for the most part, not so new. The researchers in chronology critique of the 20th and 21st centuries are by no means on their own: there is a long tradition of chronology critique. This is a recent finding that has only gained weight in recent years.

Since the beginnings of historiography, there have always been authors -some undisputed prestigious characters of their time- who have challenged conventional chronology. Others, though not the measure of time as such, have recognised many claims about our past as falsifications.

This began as early as the 17th century in Spain with Nicolas Antonio, in France with Launoy, Hardouin and Germon, and a little later in England with the mathematician Isaac Newton, who himself drew up a time scheme that did not match the one we have today. Since then, many scientists have expressed similar ideas, but although some provoked enormous public debates, they were mostly forgotten soon after their deaths. Most of these authors were not even known in the circles of today’s historical critics when they put forward their theories about a truncated chronology, and were only gradually rediscovered later.

Chronological overview

This chronological-geographical index attempts to give an impression of when and where certain scholars have challenged the conventional view of history, although by no means all of the authors mentioned have cast doubt on chronology as such. The geographical assignment is rather loose and more oriented towards linguistic aspects. Click on the name for more information!

This panel contains only some of the most active authors. A more comprehensive compilation is provided on the Author List.




In addition to the decidedly chronology-critical works, there were always publications by scholars who propagated an alternative view of the historical sequence, often with catastrophist foundations. They were also academically discussed but usually only cited as marginal figures. We have touched on or discussed some of these outsiders (see in the Reading Room reviews of Muck, Pallmann, Dacqué, CeramKaiser, or older ones such as Niebuhr, Fallmerayer). A new version of strange pioneers has just been released.

The last 20 years

In earlier centuries, it was mostly isolated scholars who questioned chronology and had to defend their theses against the experts alone. A fundamental change began in the 1980s, when several German and Swiss researchers -Christoph Marx, Gunnar Heinsohn, Heribert Illig, Christian Blöss and others- founded the “Gesellschaft zur Rekonstruktion der Menschheits- und Naturgeschichte” (GRMNG), which for the first time made it possible for many similarly minded authors to join forces.

In part, the GRMNG built on the ideas of the American psychoanalyst Immanuel Velikovsky, who had developed a model of history characterised by cosmic catastrophes in his book “Worlds in Collision” in the 1950s (Marx translated several of Velikovsky’s books into German). However, Velikovsky rigidly adhered to the biblical tradition; more flexible was the German researcher Uwe Topper, who in the 1970s independently of Velikovsky had recognised the fundamental role of catastrophes in history. His view of history, shaped mainly by field research in Asia, North Africa and Spain, had been expressed in his book “Das Erbe der Giganten” (1977), which had provoked some discussion.

The complete overthrow of chronology -which actually the well-known philosopher of history Oswald Spengler had already called for in the 1920s- only began, however, with the GRMNG and became known to the public above all with Heinsohn’s book “Die Sumerer gab es nicht” (1988). After the dissolution of the GRMNG in 1988, the journal Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart, directed by Illig in Munich, became the most important forum for critics for several years. In the early 1990s, Topper became acquainted with Heinsohn, Illig, Niemitz and other representatives of the scene and incorporated the idea of abbreviated chronology into his theses.

In the mid-1990s, the computer scientist Eugen Gabovich drew the attention of the scene to the fact that a New Chronological School had existed in Russia for years, led by the mathematician Anatoly Fomenko and based on the Russian scholar Nikolai Morozov of the 1920s. Based on statistical analysis, this group considers all events in and before the Middle Ages to be reflections of later events.

Because of their mathematical working method, which only evaluates statistical data of the chronicles and does not or hardly deal with archaeological finds, Fomenko’s ideas are rather rejected by a large part of German historians -among them also the authors of this page-, however, they are often only superficially known in the scene because of missing translations from Russian.

Discussion rounds and regular meetings now keep the work going, especially in Germany, and enable an ongoing exchange of ideas between an ever-increasing number of interested parties; worth mentioning are the annual subscriber meetings of the journal edited by Illig (first called Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart (VFG), later Zeitensprünge), the Berlin Geschichtssalon (BGS) founded by Niemitz, Blöss and Topper in 1994, the Karlsruhe Geschichtssalon led by Gabowitsch from 1999 onwards, and the Geschichtssalon Potsdam founded by him with Topper and others in 2002.