My history teacher loved to drum dates into us

One of the by-products of staging two live shows on national TV stations every week is the avalanche of mail from fans. Praise, criticism and questions arrive from all sides, in every way imaginable — letters, emails, text messages, voicemail, all of it demanding and deserving attention.

The important thing was that I passed my history tests, because I learned the dates. When my children started school, dates were out of fashion. They learned stories instead – the intrigues, the plots, the heroics, the scandals. And I realised I’d missed out on so much. Cinema and TV have woken up too, with ancient spectacles like Troy, passionate love stories like Girl With A Pearl Earring, and sumptuous costume dramas filling our screens. The one thing we don’t need to know about history is dates. Which is a good thing, because it seems all those dates could be wrong. All the textbooks insist the Roman Empire flourished 2,000 years ago, for instance. But what if those figures were inventions? What if we’ve been miscounting for centuries, and Julius Caesar in fact lived 800 years later than we always thought? What if Jesus had been born only 1,000 years ago, instead of 2,000?

Anyone who proposed such a radical theory would have to produce unstoppable evidence, on every aspect of history from language and religious customs to clothes and architecture. And even then, most historians would dismiss the claims instantly. The theory was launched by Sir Isaac Newton in his paper, The Chronology Of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, but even he was ignored. Now a brilliant Moscow professor, Anatoly Fomenko, is fighting the tide with a new method of scientific date-setting, based on calculations of the changes in the night sky and some fiendishly complex mathematics. He believes the stars cannot lie, and almost all human history has been crammed into the past ten centuries. One of his most high-profile disciples is Garry Kasparov, the most brilliant champion chess has ever seen, and a formidable mathematician himself. Garry has published several essays, backing Fomenko’s findings and urging historians to open their minds. “It’s an exciting opportunity to create completely new areas of scientific research,” he says.


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