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Hittites and their Skulls

In The Hittites (1952; Penguin edition, 1954, pp. 212-13), O. R. Gurney states:

"Another problem which may be dealt with here is that of the human types represented on [the] monuments.  What did the Hittites look like? . . . that there were in fact at least two types of Hittites is apparently confirmed by the Egyptian monuments, which are very carefully executed.  Plates 2a and 3 show the 'Armenoid' type in a pronounced form, whereas the two central figures in 2b have a totally different type of face . . . We might well suppose that the 'Armenoid' type represents the mass of the Hittite (perhaps Hattian) population, while the upright type of face belongs to the Indo-European ruling class, though the proud bearing of the 'Armenoid' charioteer in Plate 3 would show that in any case the types had become considerably intermingled.

"However, these hypotheses seem to be belied by the evidence of excavation.  Examination of the skulls which have been found on several sites in Anatolia shows that in the third millennium the population was preponderantly long headed or dolichocephalic, with only a small admixture of brachycephalic types.  In the second millennium the proportion of brachycephalic skulls increases to about 50 per cent.  But in neither millennium is this brachycephalic element of the 'Armenoid' type, which is hyper-brachycephalic with flattened occiput, but is classified rather as 'Alpine'.  It is not till the first millennium that the 'Armenoid' type appears.

            "It seems impossible to reconcile this facts with the monuments.  If the contradiction were confined to Anatolia it might be evaded by supposing that the comparatively few skulls that have been excavated there are not truly representative, but the same contradiction has been observed in Persia and Iraq, where the craniological material is much more plentiful.  The problem thus raised has so far proved insoluble."

The Hittites represented on the Egyptian monuments are dated from the reign of the Pharaoh Horemheb and (while not indicated) apparently from that of Ramses II and the "insoluble" problem results from the dating of the monuments, which of course are dated according to the traditional chronology.  Gurney never thought of questioning the dates of his monuments even though he recognizes a grave problem.  The reigns of Horemheb and Ramses II are ca. 1325 and ca. 1290 B.C., respectively, according to the present chronology of Pharaonic Egypt.  According to Velikovsky, who could not have known of Gurney's statement prior to 1952, the reigns of Horemheb and Ramses II are ca. 687 and ca. 600 B.C., respectively.  This resolves the craniological problem with the monuments and also indicates the relationship between the peoples of Anatolia and Mesopotamia in the first millennium.  Velikovsky claims both were Chaldeans.

Lewis M. Greenberg

PENSEE Journal V

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