السبت، 8 أكتوبر، 2011

The Kadesh Battle

In 1285 BC, there were two superpowers in the ancient Near East, Egypt in the south and the Hatti, or Hittites, in Asia Minor to the north.

Each wanted to play a leading role in the area and secure its influence in the regions between their countries, such as Syria and Palestine. The two superpowers finally clashed in the Battle of Kadesh.

In the fifth year of the reign of King Ramesses the Second, circa 1285 BC, the king led an army of four divisions bearing the names of principal Egyptian deities, Amun, Re, Ptah, and Seth, to fight the Hittites as far north of Egypt as it could reach.

The army crossed Canaan, or Palestine, and Phoenicia, or Lebanon, until it came to the hills south of Kadesh on the Orontes River.

The Amun division followed the king, accompanied by his bodyguards only, while the other three divisions were very far behind.

The Hittites tried to trick Ramesses by sending two Bedouins to lie about the enemy's army and its allies, which, they declared, were still far away near Khaleb, or Aleppo, in northern Syria. In fact, the enemy was hiding on the other side of the river, not far from the royal camp. However, Egyptian soldiers seized two Hittite spies and beat them until they confessed that the Hittite army was hiding not far behind Kadesh, ready for the attack. Suddenly, the enemy surrounded Ramesses' camp and attacked, taking him and his bodyguards by surprise.

The tired Egyptian soldiers were not prepared for the battle and three army divisions were absent. A total defeat for the king and the Egyptian army was expected.

It is recorded in the Egyptian accounts of the battle that the king, who found himself surrounded by the enemy, prayed to Amun-Re for help while fighting valiantly. He was rescued from being killed, thanks to his courage and some troops of Egyptian cadets, called Naaruna.

Stationed in the Land of Amor, they came from the rear of the Hittites, causing confusion in their lines. Many Hittite fighters were killed, wounded, or drowned. The rest of the enemy prayed for peace and fled to the fortress of Kadesh, which was surrounded by water. Even after the battle, the two superpowers were almost equally strong.

After 22 years, a peace treaty was agreed to between the Egyptians and the Hittites. This treaty marked the beginning of a peaceful and friendly era between Egypt and the Hittites.

The Battle of Kadesh was recorded in texts and illustrations in eight separate versions located in the temples of Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum, and Abydos.

A shorter version was recorded in the temple of Abu Simbel. Another version, known as the Poem of Pentawer, was written on a papyrus, now shared by the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris.

The facade of the Luxor temple describes the Battle of Kadesh in detailed text and illustrations .

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