A summary of the historical work of Immanuel Velikovsky
Part 6. Ramses II and His Time
In 1978 Velikovsky published Ramses II and His Time. With this book he continued his research into the chronology of ancient history. He was aware that, when you shift the history of a number of countries up to six hundred years, it is not enough to simply compare a period of about one hundred years. You must prove that the shifting also fits throughout the rest of the time. If there is demonstrably no possible agreement, then the whole argument falls to pieces and the similarities between the Queen of Sheba and Hatshepsut must be a coincidence. In Ramses II and His Time Velikovsky deals with the period around 1250 BC (Egypt) and 600 BC (The Bible).
Necho and Nebuchadnezzar
Around 600 BC the Assyrian empire collapsed. From the south, Babylon conquered Nineveh and in the north the military power of the Chaldean Empire under King Nebuchadnezzar increased. Nebuchadnezzar developed great power and also became king of Babylon. For a long period his power in the region of Judea was balanced by the army of Pharaoh Necho II, who is mentioned in the Bible. The Greek historian Herodotus also mentioned Necho and called him Pharaoh Necos. He was the son and successor of Psammeticus I.
Nebuchadnezzar was powerful and finally conquered Jerusalem, but for a long time he feared Necho, with whom he eventually concluded some agreement (at the expense of the Jewish people). However, although Nebuchadnezzar made extensive reports of his exploits and conquests on buildings, in inscriptions and sculptures, his counterpart in Egypt left almost no trace. All we know today about Necho is derived from the Bible and Herodotus. There are traces of an Egyptian 'Nekau Wehembire', but so few that the person seems to have been of minor importance.
In 608 BC Necho went as far as the Euphrates and occupied the land of Judah and Syria, but after three years an invasion by Necho led to a battle that was won by Nebuchadnezzar. This battle took place, according to the Book of Jeremiah, near the Euphrates at Carchemish. In the following years the balance of power changed a several times. In 597 BC Nebuchadnezzar gave Zedekiah power in Jerusalem, but eight years later Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, against all warnings from the prophet Jeremiah. He did so hoping for help from Necho. Necho came with an army, but he did not battle and finally came to an agreement with the king of Chaldea / Babylon, in which he gave up his claim to Palestine in exchange for peace. This peace was at the expense of Jerusalem which, immediately after the agreement, was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar carried the people of Jerusalem away to Babylon. That was the beginning of the Babylonian exile which lasted for fifty years.
Necho left little trace in Egypt, but Ramses II left numerous traces. Pharaoh Ramses II ruled between about 1290 and 1220 BC according to the conventional view. He was one of the most ostentatious pharaohs and left a large number of buildings and monuments. There are many reports of his campaigns. We will try to see if, maybe, he and Necho may have been the same. Again there are similarities between the history of ancient Egypt and the biblical story of 600 years later. Ramses said that he marched to Ugarit in his second year and once again in his fifth year. He battled near the city of Kadesh, where he was defeated by the king of Hatti, also called the king of Kheta. Historians have long wondered where Kadesh was located and they concluded that it was a city on the Orontes, a river near the Mediterranean coast in Syria where two river arms meet. Velikovsky considered this to be unlikely, because Ramses II gave the description of a town surrounded on four sides by water and because in the area near the Orontes no remains are found of a walled city. Ramses IIs description of the city and of the progress of the battle could, however, match with the location of Carchemish in a loop in the River Euphrates.
After his defeat Ramses II waited for four years before marching again to Judea in his ninth year, where he raised memorials of his presence. On one wall of the great temple at Karnak is the text of a peace treaty that Ramses II finally, nineteen years after his first campaign, concluded with the king of Kheta. From the treaty, it is clear that Palestine and Syria are no longer part of Egypt, the boundaries are defined and agreements on the exchange and humane treatment of prisoners were made. The sequence of events in the time of Ramses II and that of Pharaoh Necho exactly match.
Ramses II and Hattusilis
Who was the opponent of Ramses II? In the highlands, in what is now Turkey, characters had been found of an unknown language. The same characters were later found in northern Syria, near the Euphrates, and in Babylon. Around 1870, the theory was developed that 'Kheta' from the treaty of Ramses II were the Hittites that were mentioned now and then in the Old Testament (for example, those mentioned earlier in this summary dealing with the siege of Samaria by the Syrian king Ben-Hadad.)
It was thought that, maybe, the language was written by these Hittites and soon there was talk about the forgotten empire of the Hittites. Thutmose III had been the first to mention the Hatti in his annals and Ramses II referred to Hatti regularly, but around 1200 BC (orthodox) Ramses III wrote that Hatti was crushed. Assyrian annals speak of the Hatti until the year 717 BC, when an Assyrian king overran Hatti.
Any uncertainty about the existence of the Hittites disappeared in 1906 when the ruins of Boghazkoi were found in central Turkey with a large quantity of tablets with texts. One of these texts was a Babylonian (Akkadian) version of the treaty that Ramses II had written on the walls of the temple at Karnak. At Karnak, the partner of Ramses was called the "king of Kheta". In the Babylonion cuneiform version his name was Hattusilis. That appeared to make the dating of the tablets clear to everyone, even though it was strange that the findings seemed to have a close relationship with Assyrian material of several hundred years later and in some ways seemed more developed than the Assyrian texts. Also in Boghazkoi a text had been found of an autobiography of Hattusilis, and again we find a number of similarities between the autobiography of Hattusilis and what we know about the life of Nebuchadnezzar. Anyway there are no insurmountable contradictions.
According to Velikovsky the forgotten kingdom of the Hittites was no different than the Chaldean dynasty that developed 550 years later, immediately after the collapse of the Assyrian empire. This Chaldean dynasty had its centre in the middle and east of what is now Turkey. Nebuchadnezzar was the Hittite king Hattusilis who conquered large areas and who also became king of Babylon. After his death, the Chaldean dynasty soon fell apart. In 546 BC Croesus, king of the Lydians (west of modern Turkey), destroyed the city Pteria, a city that was located exactly at the spot where the Hittite Empire's capital Hattusas (at Boghazkoi) had been located. In the same year Lydia, in turn, was invaded by the Persian king Cyrus. This is again consistent with the fact that Ramses III, dated to 1200 BC, said that Hatti was crushed. That was about fifty years after Nebuchadnezzar came to power. The Chaldean people and the Chaldean culture continued to exist for a long time, until the beginning of our era, but no longer as a world power.
It is interesting to look at the theories about the expressions of Hittite art and culture that have been found. Around 1834 the discovery was announced of ruins in Boghazkoi and of rock sculptures in the neighborhood. The first theories were that they were the remains of Lydians (from the southwest of Turkey), or Phrygians, or Persians, or Medes, or the Lydian King Croesus and the Persian king Cyrus. In any case, all of them date to a period somewhere between 800 and 600 BC. The palace ruins in Boghazkoi showed strong resemblance to a palace in Nineveh, built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 700 BC.
By 1870 Egypt hieroglyphics could be read and it became clear that the Hittite texts and pictures came from the opponents of Ramses II and that, therefore, the age of Hittite culture had to be increased by six to seven hundred years. Some experts maintained that the style of the images, motifs and details clearly came from a time between the tenth and sixth centuries BC, but when, in 1906, the archives of the kings of Kheta were found, with the copy of the treaty between Ramses II and Hattusilis, all objections to the theory of a Hittite empire were silenced. The culture of Boghazkoi was from the time of Ramses II and nobody doubted that it was from about 1250 BC.
Nobody came to the conclusion that Ramses and Hattusilis were equally much later, even though it would have taken away a lot of inconsistencies and resolved arguments between historians. Velikovsky gives many examples of these inconsistencies. One of them can be found in the excavations at Gordion in a town 130 km west of Boghazkoi. Gordion was the capital of the Phrygian kingdom, the kingdom of King Gordias and later of King Midas. It existed from 800 to about 690 BC, when Cimmerians conquered the city. Excavations revealed that the remains of Gordion were covered by a three metres thick layer of clay in which almost exclusive Hittite remains were found. There was a theory that, apparently, the Persians who settled there later, transported clay from elsewhere to build a new city. This would have required moving millions of tons of clay over a considerable distance, let alone the fact that there are no traces whatsoever of the Chaldean empire of Nebuchadnezzar that must have been there between the Phrygian kingdom and the arrival of the Persians!
Moreover, the prominent Turkish archeologist, Ekrem Akurgal, said that despite diligent research in the last century, in the Turkish highlands no traces were found of a civilization that can be assigned to the years between 1200 and 750 BC. This period is shrouded in darkness, a parallel of the "dark ages" in Greek history after the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization.
Older and younger objects
The anomalies are numerous and are always caused by the fact that objects of an old period (for example, from 1200 BC in Egypt or in Mycenae), were found together with items from 600 years later, for instance, in the tomb of the Phoenician king Ahiram in Byblos. There were artifacts from the time of Ramses II and pottery from Mycenae together with Cypriot vases from the seventh century BC. The experts could not agree how old the grave really was. Some thought that thieves had taken older objects out of an ancient tomb and put newer objects in their place and others suggested that the grave was younger and intruders had used the grave to store objects of an earlier origin. The confusion increased because a text, written with Hebrew characters, mentioned that the tomb was of king Ahiram of Gwal (Byblos), with the warning not to violate the tomb. Some thought this was proof that the Hebrew alphabetic script was much older than had previously been assumed.
So what about Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Necho? In the Bible Jeremiah and Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would conquer the land of Egypt, but historians maintain that it is not known whether Nebuchadnezzar ever invaded Egypt. A stele of Ramses II at Karnak tells how, in his 34th year, the king of Hatti came to Egypt to give his daughter in marriage to Ramses, while of Nebuchadnezzar a damaged piece of text was preserved telling that in his 37th year he was in Egypt. What he did there is not clear from the text. It would seem that Nebuchadnezzar and Ramses II (Necho II) continued to maintain friendly relations and that Ramses II married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. This friendship lasted until the Chaldean / Hittite dynasty ended.