Red Light, Green Light: Fomenko’s New Chronology

Fomenko’s New Chronology is an argument that human civilization dawned around 1200 years ago and all of recorded history falls between that point and now. If true, this would mean that all of recorded human history stretches back only about 1200 years. Is it true though? I don’t attempt to answer that here, but I do in my Examining Fomenko’s New Chronology articles. What I do address here are the green and red lights that popped up over the years as I looked through New Chronology media.

The green lights represent things that are ok, things that I think have merit. They say “This checks out, pass go and collect $200”. The red lights represent things that are questionable or problematic. They say “straight to jail”. With green meaning “go”, red meaning “stop”, I present to you 4 of each. Here’s a brief overview of what I’ll be covering:

Green Lights

1 – History & Interpretation

2 – Big Fake History

3 – Dating Method Issues

4 – Accessibility

Red Lights

1 – Methodology

2 – Published Information

3 – Unpublished Information

4 – Publications

Green Lights

1 – History & Interpretation

False information has been found in historical records for centuries. Stories that can not possibly conform to reality are common amongst the writings of some of history’s most important historians. Mistakes and distortions happen intentionally and unintentionally. Some collections of manuscripts are riddled with errors to the point of being nearly useless. Other records duplicate and triplicate people and events, thereby artificially extending human history.

Aside from errors popping up in the texts themselves, there is also the problem of interpretation. There can be many contradictory interpretations of a single work. This problem of interpretation is covered academically, among other works, in Umberto Eco’s Limits of Interpretation. This problem is also the comedic fuel for Key & Peele’s Text Message Confusion skit. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naleynXS7yo).

Eusebius

According to Paul Maier, a former Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, Eusebius is “our principal primary source for earliest Christianity, and his Church History is the cornerstone chronicle on which later historians would build”.[1, p.9] Despite this esteemed position, the surviving manuscripts of his rarely have the “correct” dates and are virtually useless for chronology building.[2, p.88]

Grant (1995)

Even if the errors were results of the copyists, this doesn’t account for errors made intentionally or unintentionally by the original author. Michael Grant illuminated a collection of these types of errors in his 1995 publication “Greek and Roman Historians: Information and Misinformation”. Reportedly, the C5th BCE Greek historian Hellanicus had taken an event that occurred under one archonship and spread it over three.[3, p.32] In doing so, he tripled the amount of time in which a single event took place.

Livy

The famous Roman historian Livy appears to have had a similar habit. He duplicated events and people. One commentator presumes it was a result of not recognizing that the story he was copying was listed in multiple spots in his source. By not recognizing repetition of the story, he duplicated it into multiple different stories, sometimes being separated by a few years, other times by centuries.[3, p.36]

Fomenko

These are just a couple examples among many. I mention them here because they are not all that different from what Fomenko is arguing. He argues that the European histories are based on a forgotten original.[4, p.10] Over the past 400 years or so this original was distorted, historical figures and events were fractured into phantom duplicates. In this fashion, Fomenko argues that some 800 years between the C9th and C17th were stretched into about 5600 years (4000 BCE to 1650ish CE). This latter period is 7 times longer than Fomenko’s proposed timeline.

For Fomenko’s New Chronology to be possible, distortions in and misinterpretations of historical records would have to exist. They do exist, so this was a green light for me to keep reading.

2 – Big Fake History

It’s possible that a gigantic sum of fictional tales have commonly been passing for history. In other words, it’s possible that large portions of “history” are fake.

“Riddled with the inconsistency of compelling yet conflicting preconceptions …
all ‘olden times’ are potentially fraudulent.”
David Lowenthal (1990)[5, p.17]

David has been credited with making heritage studies into an academic discipline. He was a scholar and he made the above statement in the introduction to Mark Jones’ “Fake? The Art of Deception”. There are three main supporting arguments that leave this potentiality open.

Fictions

The ease with which fiction is created is the first main support. It does not take much time at all to create fictional characters, places, and events. Back in January 2020 I analyzed a handful of popular fictional shows from the past century to see how many fictional characters were created for them. Out of the 30 shows/franchises that I looked at, I tallied up around 37,500 characters. This is a huge amount of fiction that far outweighs almost any collection of historical records. It’s also only a small fraction of the total amount of fiction created over the past 100 years. The fact that fiction can be made so easily leaves the possibility that large portions of history are entirely fabricated.

Late Copies

Another issue is the gap of time between the writing of an alleged original and its copy/copies. The majority of the copies we have today attributed to ancient authors were made hundreds if not thousands of years after the authors wrote them. This case of “copies from hundreds of years or more after supposed first writing” is the norm for Western[6] and (from what I can tell) Eastern historians. The issue here is that we do not have contemporary evidence to say what the text looked like originally, or if there even was an original text.

Forgeries

The late copies problem is intensified by what has been learned through forgery scholarship, the academic study of forgery and its history. What has been noted is that forgery has been constant throughout all of history, giving way to a panoply of forgers. Some forged the works of others from their times, some forged works predating them by decades, centuries, or even millennia. This was especially the case in medieval times. These craftspeople reportedly forged nearly everything imaginable. As Otto Kurz noted back in 1973;

“…medieval people … forged to an extent unsurpassed by any other age relics, legends, charters, chronicles, seals, precious stones, etc.”[7, p.77]

The majority of the earliest surviving “copies” of the ancient texts are believed to have been written around the turn of the second millennium (c.1000). This is also the time when virtually every literary institution across Europe had engaged in copying old scripts and forging documents. Interpolations, redraftings, and “improvements” were being made to older literature. Religious houses were forging their forgotten and absent histories. English archives were being forged en masse. The French were forging legal documents.[8] All this is to say that forgery has consistently been an issue throughout the centuries. The possibility of a large part of history being intentionally fabricated has not been scientifically or academically ruled out.

Fomenko

While Fomenko thinks most historical records are not forgeries, he does believe an interpretation of them was forged in the 1600-1700s. Fomenko has stated;

“I cannot at all agree with the hypothesis of Morozov, according to which most literary works of antiquity are fabrications of the Apocrypha of the Renaissance, which would mean that what we know today as ancient history is actually the result of premeditated falsification. … My standpoint is different, namely that, due to the results of the application of the new dating methods, almost all surviving ancient documents (of antiquity or the Middle Ages) are authentic and written for the purpose of perpetuating real events rather than leading future historians astray.”[4, p.196]

On the homepage of his website, in the section titled “FROM THE AUTHORS”, he states;

“Our analyses of the chronology and history opened a striking circumstance. Based on the applied by us mathematical methods it was proved, that the Scaligerian chronology, and therefore also the Scaligerian history of the “antiquity” and the Middle Ages, is totally wrong. Moreover, it appeared that our history right up to the end of the XVI century was consciously falsified at the epoch of the XVII-XVIII centuries.”[9]

The light is green for the first part because large swathes of history could be fake. It turns to yellow when he asserts that a massive forgery occurred in the 1600-1700s that has drastically warped the our general view of human history. Forgery was prevalent in those centuries so I think it’s a possibility that such a deception could have been created but ultimately his evidence would need to support his claims and I’m not sure it does (hence the red lights).

In summary; large portions of history could be fabricated. Critical, scientific, and academic approaches to the evidence are our best chance at determining just how much can be and is fake.

3 – Dating Method Issues

For Fomenko’s New Chronology to be possible, the dating methods used by historians, archeologists, and related professionals have to have underlying issues that would allow for a shortening of the timeline of human civilization. Human civilization is commonly believed to have dawned around 4000-5000 BCE. If human civilization dawned in the past 1200 years, and about 800 years of it was misinterpreted, then objects associated with the Roman empire between around 700 BCE and 500 CE (1200 years) must have been misdated by at least 700 and at most 1500 years. Here’s a list of rough estimates to help visualize the errors needed for Fomenko’s hypothesis to be possible:

Roman (c.700 BCE to c.500 CE): misdated by 700-1500 years

Mayan (c.2600 BCE to c.1500 CE):[10] 700-4200 years

Chinese (2200 BCE to c.1700):[11] 900-3800 years

Ancient Egyptian (c.5000 BCE to c.700):[12] 100-6600 years

The dates that go past 800 CE (1200 BP) count for the minimum. Taking the Maya for example, 1500 minus 800 is 700. The Chinese, 1700 minus 800 is 900. For the maximum amount, I calculated the amount of years between 1600 (when the main deception was beginning to be implemented) and the oldest date for the civilization. For Rome, it was 700 BCE to 1600 CE, which is 2300 years.

Examples of Surprises

I give Fomenko the green light here because I think the popular methods used today can err upwards towards 6600 years. One example of this is the approximately 6600 year error when carbon dating a castle’s mortar. The authors reported that “Of the seven samples dated, six produced 14C ages significantly older than the true ages…”.[13] Sometimes carbon dates come back significantly younger than expected, as is the case with a handful of samples reported in 2010 to have been upwards towards 4600 years off the mark.[14] Not directly related to human civilization but still connected to carbon dating is what’s known as the Lehi horse. Its death was initially dated to around 14,000-16,000 BCE but after the carbon results came back they re-dated it to the 17th-20th centuries, some 13,500+ years younger.[15]

I do not believe the existing dating methods are useless but I do believe they need to be explored in much more depth.

Lack of Testing

The majority of objects assigned to the ancient and medieval periods have not undergone scientific testing. This is especially true for manuscripts and other mediums used for writing. There are a wide range of tests that can be applied to written documents so that we can extract objective facts about them. For anything organic, we can obtain carbon information. For anything with ink, we can run cyclotron analyses. I’m not sure if they’ve started doing this yet, but for anything made from animal skin, we could obtain genetic information and see which vellum are from the same families.

Due to the lack of testing and the errors produced by the tests that have been run, I think Fomenko’s shortened timeline is a possibility, and so this is a green light for me to look further. I will say here that it was the looking further bit that brought up the red lights. So while I still think a shortened chronology is a possibility, I don’t think Fomenko’s New Chronology is a good model for it.

4 – Accessibility

Almost all of the core material is available to read for free online. I think overall this is a positive thing and its made it more likable compared to some academic publishers who charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to become familiar with the core literature.

This was a green light to me because it shows an openness to criticism and collaboration. Whereas the academic publishers mostly only publish material that you’d have to pay a decent amount of money to be able to criticize, Fomenko posted his for all to read.

Red Lights

1 – Methodology

“That’s why during 1973-1980 yeas the main attention was given to the creation of mathematical and statistical analysis methods for historical texts. As a result in 1975-1979 years A.T.Fomenko managed to propose and develop several such new methods. Based on them it appeared to be possible to determine a global picture of chronological re-dating in the version of Scaliger, after which mistakes of this version are mainly removed.”[22]

It is claimed that Fomenko developed methods in the 70s that lead to the revelation of a radically different timeline for human civilization. However, these methods not only get very little attention from the critics and supporters, but from the authors as well. Ideally, the methods would be clear and easily repeatable. That is to say that you could learn the methods, apply them to the source material, and arrive at the same conclusions. This ideal scenario does not appear to be the reality.

The fact that these were not clearly laid out is a red flag to me. That and the fact that they don’t advertise these new methods on the Russian or English homepages of their website. The methods don’t even appear to be well-defined in the works themselves. In July 2020, I started putting together a “Glossary of Fomenko’s New Chronology”, where I listed out the terms used in their literature. There are a number of principles and methods listed, but hardly any of them are appropriately articulated.[16] If I’m wrong about this, just point out where the methods and principles are well-articulated and I’ll update the glossary and this section of this article.

The methodology used for their astronomical calculations is also somewhat obscure. It appears to me to not be very rigorous, which is a red flag. I want to create a program that could do what they wanted to do but better, as well as clearer so that people could see exactly what they need to learn to be able to verify it.

To sneak a green flag in amongst these red ones, I do think it’s possible to date events through horoscopes. The planets will only align in certain orders every so often and this can be used to figure out when someone could have seen what they depicted. Fomenko’s New Chronology claiming to use this was a green flag. The way he went about executing and explaining is more of a yellow flag, meaning I think there’s huge room for improvement, but I’m not educated enough to make those improvements myself and have not been persuasive enough to get an educated-enough someone to make them. For me, as well as the vast majority of people on this planet, the horoscopes are unverifiable. To verify them would take a great deal of learning and coding.

2 – Published Information

The works that they have published contain a plethora of factually incorrect information. I have lists of the errors in my examination articles. This is a red flag because some of their conclusions are based on this verifiably false information. For example, in part 8 of my exam, they claim that Jesus lived in the 12th century and that carbon dating supports that. The claim that carbon dating supports this is false.[17]

However, Fomenko being wrong about the carbon dating doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Jesus living in the 12th century. The shroud could be a fake and Jesus could have still lived about 800 years ago. For example, Pirro Ligorio (c.1512-1583), known as the “prince of forgers”, once forged an inscription to debunk the common belief of his time that Verrius Flaccus wrote the Fasti Capitolini. Reportedly, the scholarly consensus today agrees with Ligorio on the question of authorship.[20, p.3] While I cannot say one way or the other if Fomenko intentionally lied to support his argument, the parallel can be seen in “the wrong argument but correct conclusion”.

While they still get most of their information correct, the bulk that isn’t is a big red flag. Also the fact that they have not corrected any of these errors over the past 20 years or so is another red flag. If corrections are made in future publications, the flag will go down. As long as the false information stands, the flag stays up.

3 – Unpublished Information

They have not published all of the research they’ve supposedly conducted. Reportedly, from 1974 to 1982, he applied his methods to historical records and produced a work about 6,000 pages long entitled Global Chronology of the Ancient and Medieval World: An Experiment in Statistical Research. Methods and Applications.[4, p.88] However, as far as I can tell, this book has never been published. If it has been published, where can I find it? They claim the first book published on this topic was published in 1990, some 8 years after the results were already collected.[18] Was the 6000 page work published after that?

4 – Publications

Outdated Texts

The bibliography on the Russian homepage of their website states:

“If we talk about all the books on the New Chronology in general, then some of them are outdated and are no longer reprinted, some repeat the previous ones in an updated and revised form, some are popular or abridged presentations of other books, some are full-color illustrated editions.”

A red flag pops up in that there is no summary of the outdated information (how it became outdated, where it was published, etc…). For such a radical reconstruction, a work that summarizes what they got wrong, how they realized they were wrong, and then what they did to remediate the problem would be a useful work. As far as I’m aware, this work does not exist.

Recent Publications

Unfortunately for my own sake, I cannot find any reference to support this memory that I have of seeing somewhere on their website that one of the main goals of the New Chronology was to develop reliable dating methods. If this memory is accurate and the evidence has been deleted with changes to the website, then a red flag pops up for me when looking at their recent publications.

Since the publication of their 7 volume series, it does not appear they’ve done much of anything to refine and apply their methods of textual analysis to new materials. It appears to me that their main focus, maybe even their only focus, is to write narrative histories based on the results they allegedly got through their studies and methods.

Suggestions for Fomenko & Co.

1 – Clarify your methods and place them somewhere easy to find. For example, on your website’s front page, in an article linked on your website’s front page, or in your books at the end or beginnings.

2 – Publish online the c.6000 page book.

3 – Correct the errors I’ve pointed out in my examination articles and release a fixed version of your text that acknowledges the previous mistakes.

4 – Create a summary of the errors and corrections you’ve made, listing out the works with outdated material and where in those works the outdated material is.

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References:

[1] – Maier, Paul L. “Eusebius–the church history : a new translation with commentary” (1999). https://archive.org/details/eusebiusthechurc00euse/page/9/mode/1up. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020.

[2] – Bickerman, E. J. “Chronology of the ancient world” (1980). https://archive.org/details/chronologyofanci00bick/page/81/mode/1up?q=roman+dates. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020.

[3] – Grant, Michael. Greek and Roman Historians: Information and Misinformation. 1st ed., Routledge, 1995.

[4] – Fomenko, Anatoly. “Empirico-Statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and its Applications to Historical Dating, Volume I: The Development of the Statistical Tools” (1994). https://chronologia.org/en/kw1.pdf. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

[5] – Jones, Mark, et al. Fake? The Art of Deception. First Edition, University of California Press, 1990.

[6] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Ctruth Transmission Studies” (2 Jan. 2022). https://ctruth.today/2022/01/02/ctruth-transmission-studies/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

[7] – KURZ, OTTO. “EARLY ART FORGERIES: FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. 121, no. 5198, 1973, pp. 74–90. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/41371017. Accessed 19 May 2021.

[8] – Sorensen, Stephen. “A Brief History of Medieval and Early Modern Forgery” (30 Sep. 2022). https://ctruth.today/2021/09/30/a-brief-history-of-medieval-and-early-modern-forgery/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

[9] – Main Website for Fomenko’s New Chronology. https://chronologia.org/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

[10] – Canadian Museum of History. “Maya Timeline”. https://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/civil/maya/mmc09eng.html. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[11] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Chinese Timeline Comparisons” (5 Mar. 2019). https://ctruth.today/2019/03/05/chinese-timelines-comparisons/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[12] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Comparing Timelines of Ancient Egypt” (6 Mar. 2019). https://ctruth.today/2019/03/06/comparing-timelines-of-ancient-egypt/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[13] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Carbon Dating Mollusks, Seals, Trees, & Other Material. Also Criticizing Methodology” (27 Mar. 2021). https://ctruth.today/2021/03/27/p-2-fomenkos-carbon-dating-ch-1-15-1-2-vol-1-history-fiction-or-science/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[14] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Radiocarbon Dating, Ancient Egypt, and Some Commentary on Relevant Scholarship” (19 Dec. 2021). https://ctruth.today/2021/12/19/radiocarbon-dating-ancient-egypt-some-commentary-on-relevant-scholarship/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[15] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Lehi Horse Misdated by Over 13,000 Years” (6 Mar. 2022). https://ctruth.today/2021/03/06/lehi-horse-misdated-by-over-13000-years/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[16] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Glossary of Fomenko’s New Chronology” (26 Jul. 2020). https://ctruth.today/2020/07/26/glossary-of-fomenkos-new-chronology/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.

[17] – Sorensen, Stephen. “Examining Fomenko’s New Chronology” (1 Oct. 2020). https://ctruth.today/2020/10/01/examining-fomenkos-new-chronology/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.

[18] – Sorensen, Stephen. “The History of Fomenko’s New Chronology” (26 May. 2019). https://ctruth.today/2019/05/26/the-history-of-fomenkos-new-chronology/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.

[19] – The New Chronology Bibliography. https://chronologia.org/bibliography.html. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.

[20] – Loffredo, F., & Vagenheim, G. (2019). Pirro Ligorio’s Worlds. doi:10.1163/9789004385634. Accessed 20 Dec. 2021.

[21] – Sorensen, Stephen. “The Creation of Fictional Characters Over the Past 100 Years” (13 Jan. 2020). https://ctruth.today/2020/01/13/the-creation-of-fictional-characters-over-the-past-100-years/. Accessed 24 Apr. 2022.

[22] – Main Website for Fomenko’s New Chronology. “THE HISTORY OF NEW CHRONOLOGY”. https://chronologia.org/en/history.html. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022.

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