When studying history one of the first things you’re taught is to check your sources. Historical sources are often biased, so historians must take everything they read with a grain of salt.
However, some people take this a little too far, questioning everything and coming up with new, dubious theories in the process (Phantom Time Theory: we’re looking at you). Take Anatoly Fomenko, for example, a Russian mathematician turned amateur (emphasis on the amateur) historian.
Fomenko believes that pretty much all of established history is a great big lie concocted by shadowy figures. Luckily for us he’s used mathematics and statistics to reveal the truth: a long-hidden empire, the “Russian-Horde” did everything from building the pyramids to settling the Americas.
Fomenko’s New Chronology is completely bonkers and utterly baffling, but a lot of fun to explore.
Who is Anatoly Fomenko?
Fomenko was born on13 March 1945 to Timothy Grigorievich Fomenko, an engineer, and Valentina Polikarpovna, a philologist. From an early age, he showed an exceptional gift for mathematics, winning several awards at school. He was destined for a life of academia and graduated from the Mechanics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow State University in 1967 and started working there two years later.
He published his first thesis in 1970 and later defended his doctoral thesis in 1972. Despite some of his controversial theories, he was made a professor of the Department of Higher Geometry and Topology in 1981 and in 1992 was made the head of his department. During his academic life he also served as the editor of quite a few Russian-language mathematics journals and in 1996 won the State Prize of the Russian Federation for excellence in mathematics.
Simply put, Anatoly Fomenko is not just a very clever man, he’s a highly respected mathematician, especially in Russia. This is what makes his New Chronology theory, a topic on which he’s published seven volumes, so fascinating. How can such an intelligent person believe something so out there?
Fomenko isn’t the first “historian” to have worked on a new chronology. Both the Russian scholar Nikolai Morozov (1854-1946) and Frenchman Jean Harouin (1646-1729) likely inspired Fomenko. Yet it’s Fomenko who has really popularized the theory, especially in his “History: Fiction or Science?” series.
Supported by his parents, Fomenko started working on his theory in the 1970s and has been “refining” it ever since. He believes that the vast majority of history as we know it is a complete fabrication, especially ancient history.
According to him history has either been faked by immoral scholars working for the likes of the Vatican, Holy Roman Empire, and the Romanov Dynasty (amongst others), or has been badly misinterpreted. Everything we popularly know about history is, according to him, wrong.
- Phantom Time Theory: Did we Invent 300 Years of History?
- The Solutrean Hypothesis: Did France Colonize the US 20,000 years ago?
Fomenko’s new timeline can get pretty wild but is largely based on the idea that all historical sources from before the 11th to 14th centuries are unreliable and shouldn’t be trusted. His reasoning behind this is that factors like poor timekeeping devices and inconsistent recordkeeping plus the limited availability of surviving records means they can’t be trusted. Archaeologists might have something to say about this.
So from where does he think the accepted chronology comes? Well, if you listen to Fomenko pre-Renaissance history was made up by writers working for the Vatican and other Christian powers in an attempt to back up history established in the bible. He singles out scholars like the 16th-century French Christian scholar Joseph Scaliger for forging and spreading fake news at the behest of their masters.
Examples? He has plenty. Fomenko has written that the Bible people read today isn’t as old as they believe and is actually an 11th to 14th century fabrication made up of older texts that were revised to reflect events really happening during the 11th to 14th centuries.
For example, the Babylonian captivity that appears in the Bible (the kingdom of Judah is invaded by Babylon and held captive for 70 years, sixth century BC) is, in reality, the seventy-year Avignon Papacy during which the Popes lived in Avignon, France instead of Rome. Yes, this is what we’re dealing with here.
If that’s a bit niche, he has more famous examples. He theorized Jesus Christ was based on Byzantine Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos with elements of other famous historical figures thrown in.
He explains this by pointing out that Komnenos was executed at the end of his reign. His recorded injuries were similar to those Jesus suffered. Coincidence? Fomenko thinks not.
Even some of the world’s most famous cities are modern fakes. Apparently Troy and Jerusalem are one and the same because they’re actually Constantinople. Likewise, ancient Rome was actually in Egypt and Rome in Italy is less than a thousand years old.
Enter the Russia-Horde
It all gets incredibly hard to keep track of, but the lynchpin of Fomenko’s New Chronology is the existence of the “Russia-Horde”, a massively powerful empire responsible for much of human history. Led by figures known as czar-khans like Genghis Khan (who was really called Danilovichi) the horde conquered the entire world.
It was the Russia-Horde that built the pyramids and founded Rome there. In fact, everything we know about history’s greatest empires, like the Romans, was stolen from the Russia-Horde. Constantine, famed as the greatest of the Roman emperors, was based on Dmitry Donskoy, a 14th-century Russian leader who defeated the Mongols.
Except according to Fomenko Donskoy never defeated the Mongols, he led them as ruler of the Russia-Horde. Later Horde leaders sent the first colonists to the Americas where they founded a new Christian empire. Fomenko believes the existence of the Russia-Horde has long been covered up, their grand achievements attributed to fake historical figures.
- The Bear Cult Hypothesis: Ancient Ursine Worship
- The Church of Vrilology, Vril, Hitler and the Hollow Earth
This all sounds like the product of a fever dream but Fomenko has methodology to back his claims up. Fomenko doesn’t believe in coincidences and instead believes that when two chronologies share similarities, one of them must be made up, based on the other one.
This happens quite a lot. If one lines up the lineage of the kings of Judah from 0-400 AD and compares it with the German kings of 950-1350 AD, you’ll notice that the patterns are similar, with the kings reigning for similar lengths of time. To Fomenko this means lazy Renaissance historians took Middle Age Saxon history, changed the names, and used it to write the history of the kingdom of Judah.
This method is called Fomenko Parallelism and he’s found over twenty examples of statistical correlations between different chronologies (like the shared injuries of Jesus and Komnenos). Fomenko Parallelism is backed up by more “evidence.”
After reading the works of men like Jean Hardouin, Fomenko began comparing established historical data to records of luna cycles and other astrological events. He quickly concluded that the majority of lunar eclipses and other celestial events recorded by historians couldn’t have happened when they said they did.
For example, the Bible refers to an eclipse many historians have dated to 15 June 736 BC. If they got this date wrong then it throws the whole biblical timeline out. Fomenko reckons in this instance they’re out by 1000 years.
No one has spent much time trying to disprove Fomenko’s theories, they’re so out there they do it themselves. Probably afraid that expending energy rebutting them would offer Fomenko’s theories credence, historians and scientists have largely just ignored him. Why bother arguing with him when an abundance of archaeological evidence and methods like carbon dating already pokes a million holes in his ideas?
For the most part, Fomenko has only really found popularity in his native country and in the parts of the internet where conspiracy theory lovers tend to congregate. The only people who have spent much energy rebutting him are his fellow mathematicians who have raised major concerns with some of the formulas he’s used: they believe he got the math he based his entire theory around wrong.
But let’s not be too hard on Fomenko. His ideas might be extreme, and his math might be off but there is some truth to what he believes.
Historians aren’t perfect and many of them make mistakes or have falsified evidence. Just look at some of the state-sponsored research coming out of North Korea: they’ve claimed to have evidence of literal unicorns in recent years.
He’s also right that there are large chunks of history where we rely on a handful of accounts to tell us what happened. This is all to say that just because Fomenko’s New Chronology is clearly wrong it doesn’t mean the history we’ve all grown up learning is right.
Top Image: Anatoly Fomenko proposes a radical rewriting of all of history based on mathematical correlation and the unreliability of medieval sources, and which ignores all the other evidence. Source: Flashmovie / Adobe Stock.