Review of [i] The Lost Millennium: History's Timetables under Siege [/i]

Branden Anglin (Florida State University)

The Lost Millennium: History's Time Tables Under Siege, Forin Diacu, 2011 (second edition). 248 pp. 12 halftones, 29 line drawings, bibliography, index. $60 hardcover, ISBN 9781421402871. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.


The Lost Millennium: History's Timetables under Siege is a well-crafted exploration of the possibility that historical chronology is fundamentally flawed. Diacu critically analyzes astronomical, linguistic and written history in an attempt to uncover the truth regarding human chronology. Advertised as a mathematical detective story, The Lost Millennium is written to follow an intricate investigative journey as the author explores the possibility that the sequence of historical events has been skewed.

Such a possibility of an incorrectly determined historical timeline may intrigue students who have been studying history since their early secondary days. The author poses an interesting question that is relevant to the lives of students: What impact would an incorrectly placed historical event have on the significance of said event? That is, what if the most revolutionary and impactful events actually happened a hundred years prior to when they are said to have occurred? Providing this authentic situation to students would allow them to be engaged with the concept of the book, and the mathematical ideas presented within its pages. The use of The Lost Millennium in secondary classrooms, however, would pose a great challenge to the mathematics teacher. For one, because of the nature of chronology, the book relies heavily on historical facts and ideas. In fact, the book comes across as more of a history text than a mathematical one. References are made to mathematical procedures used to date events, but often times those procedures rely on extensive historical knowledge. Attempting to use this text solely in a mathematics classroom would likely be detrimental to student growth, as it is easy to get distracted from the mathematical ideas hidden beneath the layer of historical content.

See also the MAA Review by Alex Bogomolny.