This is the first of a series of three articles challenging the conventional historical framework of the Mediterranean world from the Roman Empire to the Crusades. It is a collective contribution to an old debate that has gained new momentum in recent decades in the fringe of the academic world, mostly in Germany, Russia, and France. Some working hypotheses will be made along the way, and the final article will suggest a global solution in the form of a paradigm shift based on hard archaeological evidence.
One of our most detailed historical sources on imperial Rome is Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 CE), whose major works, the Annals and the Histories, span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in 14 AD to the death of Domitian in 96.
Here is how the French scholar Polydor Hochart introduced in 1890 the result of his investigation on “the authenticity of the Annals and the Histories of Tacitus,” building upon the work of John Wilson Ross published twelve years earlier, Tacitus and Bracciolini: The Annals Forged in the XVth century (1878):