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In 1939, Ishkhanyan entered the department of Armenian language and literature of Yerevan State University. He fought in World War II. After the war, he continued his studies and graduated from Yerevan University in 1949.
His works are generally dedicated to the earliest history of the Armenian people, to the comparative linguistic analysis of ancient languages, and to printing. He is one of the authors of Armenian Soviet encyclopedia.
He was a Deputy to the Supreme Soviet Armenia in 1990-1996.
Ishkhanyan claims that Armenians "were the aborigines of the Armenian plateau who have been living there continuously since the fourth millennium B.C.E at the latest". Similar claims were promoted in nationalist novels such as those of Sero Khanzatian, published in the 1970s. 
- Errord Uzhi Batsarman Orenke: Hodvatsner, Azat khosk, ISBN 5807902505 (5-8079-0250-5)
- Girke Khorhrdayin Hayastanum: Matenagitakan Tsank, Hayastani azin grapalat, ISBN 9993050032 (99930-50-03-2)
- Mer Inknutyan Glkhavor Nshane: (Grakanagitakan Hetazotutyunner), Nairi, ISBN 5550004291 (5-550-00429-1)
- Patkerazard Patmutyun Hayots, Book 1, 1989, Arevik, ISBN 5807700570 (5-8077-0057-0)
- Rafael Ishkhanian, Hayeri tzagume yev hnaguin patmutiune (The Origins and Most Ancient. History of the Armenians) (Beirut: Altapress 1984))
- Questions of origin and earliest history of Armenian people, Yerevan 1988
- On the Origin and Earliest History of the Armenian People
- Ksiazka Ormianska W Latach 1512 - 1920, Ossolineum
- Stephan H. Astourian, "In Search of Their Forefathers: National Identity and the Historiography and Politics of Armenian and Azerbaijani Ethnogeneses," in Nationalism and History: The Politics of Nation building in Post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. p. 47.
- Fowkes, Disintegration of the Soviet Union, p. 116.
- Books of Ishkhanyan[[Category:Armenian historians