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Ancient Egyptian history: The Asiatic campaigning of Ramses II
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The campaign of Ramses II in Canaan
The roads in Canaan
described by the
Anastasy A papyrus c.1270 BCE
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The Asiatic Campaigning of Ramses II

Beyruth stela of Ramses II     The Egyptians invested little effort in defending their sphere of influence in the Middle East under Akhenaten and his 18th dynasty successors. Ramses I, a general under Horemheb, was elevated to the throne. He was succeeded by his son, Seti I, who, after campaigning in Canaan a number of times, appointed his son Ramses II as co-regent.

    His first campaign seems to have taken place in the fourth year of his reign and was commemorated by the erection of a stela near Beirut (Be'erot). The inscription is almost totally illegible due to weathering.

The Beirut stela, dated to year 4 of the reign of Ramses II
Source: C.R.Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien, Band IV

    The second campaign led him to Kadesh the following year, where Ramses was surprised by the Hittite king Muwatalli.

    Year 5, 3rd month of the third season, day 9, under the majesty of (Ramses II). When his majesty was in Djahi on his second victorious campaign, the goodly awakening in life, prosperity, and health was at the tent of his majesty on the mountain range south of Kadesh.
Pritchard, James B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Princeton, 1969., pp.255-256
Storming of Askalon     The encounter ended in a stand-off, Kadesh, Amurru and the northern Phoenician coast remaining in the hands of the Hittites.
    Canaanite princes, seemingly influenced by the Egyptian incapability to impose their will and goaded on by the Hittites, rose against their overlord.

Ramses II storming Askalon in the south of Canaan
Source: C. R. Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien, Band IV

    In his eighth year Ramses reconquered southern Canaan, the Galilee and even regions further north. He inscribed his successes on the first pylon of the Ramesseum in a long list of plundered towns:
    The town which his majesty desolated in the year 8, Merom.
The town which his majesty desolated in the year 8, Salem.
The town which his majesty desolated on the mountain of Beth-Anath, Kerep (Palestine ?).
The town which his majesty desolated in the land of Amurru, Deper (region of Tunip in Syria?).
The town which his majesty desolated, Acre.
The wretched town which his majesty took when it was wicked, Ashkelon. It says: "Happy is he who acts in fidelity to thee, (but) woe (to) him who transgresses. thy frontier! Leave over a heritage, so that we may relate thy strength to every ignorant foreign country!"
Pritchard, James B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Princeton, 1969., pp.255-256
    Deper, identified by Breasted with Tabor, had a Hittite garrison which, once conquered, sang the praise of the Egyptian king, at least in Ramses' inscriptions:
Said the vanquished of Kheta in praising the Good God: "Give to us the breath that thou givest, O good ruler. Lo, we are under thy sandals; thy terror, it has penetrated the land of Kheta...."
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part Three, §362
The conquest of Deper

The conquest of Deper
Source: C. R. Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien, Band IV

    Six of the sons of Ramses II, still wearing their side locks, took part in its conquest. They were (bottom row, from left to right):
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Khamwese.
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Montu ///.
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Meriamon.
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Amenemuya.
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Seti.
King's son, of his body, his beloved, Setepnere.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part Three, §362
    In year nine, Ramses erected a stela at Beth Shean. After having reasserted his power over Canaan, Ramses led his army north. A mostly illegible stela near Beirut, which appears to be dated to the king's second year, was probably set up there in his tenth. He took towns in Retenu, and Tunip in Naharin:
King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Usermare-Setepnere, Son of Re: Ramses-Meriamon, given life. The king himself, he says: "I swear as Re loves me, as my father Atum favors me, as my nostrils are rejuvenated with satisfying life ////// the [palace (?)]."
As for his [overthrow (?)], they stood fighting the city of Kheta, wherein the statue of his majesty, L.P.H., was. His majesty made it /////// his infantry and his chariotry. His majesty was at the front of his infantry and his chariotry ///// the vanquished of Kheta, who were in the districts of the city of Tunip in the land of N[aharin]. His majesty took his coat of mail ///// twice. He stood fighting the city of the vanquished of Kheta, at the front of his infantry and his [chariotry] ///// [not having (?)] [his] coat of mail upon him. [His] majesty came to take his coat of mail again. It was placed upon him when ///// [the vanquished] of Kheta, who were in the districts of the city of Tunip in the land of Naharin, while his coat of mail was not upon him.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part Three, §365

    The wars exhausted both the Hittites and the Egyptians and in the 21st year of the reign of Ramses II they concluded a peace treaty [1], which fixed the border between the two empires south of Kadesh in Syria.
 
    Many towns on the Levantine coast are not only known from Ramses' inscriptions but also from the Anastasi I papyrus, the satirical letter asking a not very knowledgable scribe about, among other things, the geography of Canaan. It gives us an interesting description of the main cities and roads. It mentions the chief of the tribe of Asher, a first hint of the incursion of the Israelites or of their being settled there into Canaan.

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[1] J. Assman in Krieg und Frieden im alten Ägypten: Ramses II und die Schlacht bei Kadesh (1983) proposes that the depictions and inscriptions concerning the Kadesh battle were designed, among other things, to justify a change in foreign politics, from confrontation to co-existence with the main Levantine power, Hatti. The 'activist' party centred around the army high command had taken over the kingdom with the accession of Horemheb to the throne, and was diminished in influence after the change of heart of its main proponent, Ramses II, four decades of fruitless conflict later.

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