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"Forgotten Empires" Remembered

Restoring the Hittites and Mitanni to Their Places in History


The concept of revising the history of the ancient near east is an audacious one. A vast amount of work has been done on the period, and the basic framework remains unchallenged by most of the scholarly world. If the chronology of the ancient world truly requires revision, and if we are to have any hopes of a revision being accepted in the mainstream of scholarship, such a revision must be comprehensive. A theory within the conventional chronology may be presented incompletely without being dismissed, because it at least accepts the basic framework. A theory outside of that conventional chronology does not have this luxury, and will inevitably be judged by much harsher standards.

In 1995, I wrote a paper entitled "On the Care and Feeding of Revision Hypotheses" and published it on a page on the World Wide Web.[1] Despite the flip title, this paper, I believe, is the first attempt to look at the issue of revised chronologies and analyze the methods being used in them. Not very surprisingly, I concluded in this paper that my "Jerusalem Ancient History", or JAH, is currently the best working model for a revision. But this conclusion was predicated on the assumption that reasonable and convincing revision models would be arrived at for each of the kingdoms that existed during the period in question.

Velikovsky focused the bulk of his attention on Egypt, leaving the kingdoms of the north to be either ignored or dealt with almost frivolously, as in his equation of the neo-Babylonian Empire with the Hittites. Subsequent revision models have paid little attention to these kingdoms, leaving them more or less as in the conventional chronology; merely somewhat "squashed" into their new chronological constraints.

The purpose of this paper is to deal with the Hittites and Mitanni in a way that will fit the available evidence as well or better than the conventional chronology, as well as conform to the time frame demanded by the JAH.

For those unfamiliar with the JAH, the following is a very cursory and schematic overview of it, though enough, I hope, to set the stage for the following discussion.

Early Bronze Age
Israel: Canaanite Period
Egypt: Old Kingdom
North: Early Dynastic, Akkadian

Intermediate Bronze Age
Israel: From the Exodus through the Conquest of Canaan
Egypt: First Intermediate Period
North: Fall of Akkad

Middle Bronze Age IIA
Israel: The Judges
Egypt: Middle Kingdom
North: Ur III, Amorite Kings of Babylon

Middle Bronze Age IIB,C / Late Bronze Age I (coeval)[2]
Israel: The Empire of David and Solomon
Egypt: The Second Intermediate Period, Early 18th Dynasty
North: Nuzi, Rise of Assyria

Late Bronze Age II
Israel: Early Divided Monarchy to Jehu
Egypt: 18th Dynasty through the Amarna Age
North: Mitanni, rise of Hittite New Kingdom

Late Bronze Age III
Israel: Late Divided Monarchy to the death of Jeroboam II
Egypt: 19th and 20th Dynasties
North: Hittite Wars, Disintegration of Mitanni, Resurgance of Assyria

Iron Age I
Israel: The Assyrian Invasions and fall of Israel
Egypt: Beginning of Third Intermediate Period
North: Decline of the Hittites, Assryian Expansion

Iron Age IIA
Israel: Assyrian Hegemony, Samaritan settlement
Egypt: Third Intermediate Period continues
North: Fall of the Hittites, beginning of Babylonian Resurgance

Iron Age IIB
Israel: Manasseh king in Judah
Egypt: End of Third Intermediate Period, beginning of 26th Dynasty
North: Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal

Iron Age IIIA
Israel: Amon and Josiah kings in Judah
Egypt: 26th Dynasty continues
North: Fall of Assyria, Rise of neo-Babylonian Empire

Iron Age IIIB
Israel: Last kings of Judah
Egypt: 26th Dynasty continues
North: Babylonian Invasions

The following discussion covers the Hittites and Mitanni in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. While it does not focus on Egypt, it may be worthwhile to point out that the basic framework for Egyptian chronology is that proposed by Martin Sieff some years back.[3] This framework retains the basic placement of the 18th Dynasty as proposed by Velikovsky (though with the Amarna Age approximately a generation later), but allows the 19th Dynasty to follow the 18th without a break. This was attempted in the now abandoned "Glasgow Chronology", though Sieff's model is far more plausible.

Finally, as a disclaimer, some of those cited below have since abandoned the hypotheses they proposed for reasons I feel are unrelated to the actual merits of the hypotheses. Most particularly, Phillip Clapham, whose work on the Hittites was the jumping board for what follows, has since apparently abandoned any and all radical revisions of ancient history.[4] I have used his and others' works without regard for their later withdrawal.

Continue with Part I - The Hittites in History