Ancient Egyptian history: The battle of Kadesh
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Ramses II: The Battle of Kadesh
The decisive war between the Egyptians and the Hittites for the control over Syria took place in the spring of the fifth year of the reign of Ramses II. The battle of Kadesh resulted from the defection of Amurru to Egypt. While the Hittites wanted to bring Amurru back into their fold, the Egyptians tried to protect their new vassal. Using Karkemish as a base for their operations, the Hittites decided Kadesh offered the best opportunities for the coming battle. Muwatalli had called on his allies, among them Rimisharrinaa, king of Aleppo
At this time, a force referred to as nearin arrived, surprising the pilfering Hittites, and drove them out of the camp. Their identity is the subject of debate. At times they are equated with sDm-aS (Sedjemash), which accords well with the meaning of Ugaritic n'rm. According to this interpretation they were camp-followers: servants, grooms and others. Others see them as recruits coming from Amurru.
Muwatalli sent an additional 1000 chariots led by the kings of Aleppo and Karkhemish, two of his own brothers and many allied princes, but kept most of his infantry to himself on the far side of the river.
Ramses reorganized his forces and the Hittites escaped being surrounded by the Egyptians by retreating towards Kadesh.
After receiving a message from Muwatalli, Ramses decided to retreat. According to the Egyptians, the "wretched, vanquished chief of Hatti" pleaded with the pharaoh
Suteh are you, Baal himself, your anger burns like fire in the land of Hatti... Your servant speaks to you and announces that you are the son of Re. He put all the lands into your hand, united as one. The land of Kemi, the land of Hatti, are at your service. They are under your feet. Re, your exalted father, gave them to you so you would rule us. Is it good, that you should kill your servants? ... Look at what you have done yesterday. You have slaughtered thousands of your servants ... You will not leave any inheritance. Do not rob yourself of your property, powerful king, glorious in battle, give us breath in our nostrils.The route through the Biqa'a valley being considered too risky, it was decided to take the route east of it, through Upe in the region of Damascus.
The battle of Kadesh should perhaps not be called a battle in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a large-scale skirmish preceding the decisive encounter which in the end never took place. Nevertheless, Muwatalli was able to rob his opponent of the initiative and eliminated about a third of his troops.
not one of my princes, of my chief men and my great,This attack on the army and his leaders was the beginning of the gradual distancing process between army and king, who relied more and more on Amen and his priesthood. Since the reign of Horemheb, who had appointed a general to succeed him, the army command had played a decisive role in foreign policy decisions. Ramses II reasserted the royal power in this domain and brought about a rapprochement between Egypt and Hatti which culminated in the signing of a peace treaty.
Ramses described the campaign as a splendid victory, while in reality Kadesh remained in Hittite hands, Amurru fell to the Hittites and the Egyptian losses were substantial.
 Apart from the scenes in which Qadesh itself is represented with some bridges over its encircling moats, it is clear that, if in May the Orontes was at its lowest point, it is also true that a quick transfer of chariots in some kind of temporary wooden bridges would have taken a lot of time. A chariot might require an overall space of about 5 x 2.5 m, so that an ordinary crossing of a bridge needed at least two pairs of chariots. Thus, an entire group of 200 or 300 chariots with an average speed of 20 km/h could cross a bridge at least in one or two hours, to reconstruct the attack order. Hence, certain practical limits can be set on the Hittite surprise attack on Ra-division in march. It is impossible to assume that the Hittite charioteers, who attacked and crashed through the midst of Ra, were only the " first battle line" of the group itself. Breaking a compact force of 5000 men in march - like an Egyptian division - needs a prolonged attack of a massive chariot-force. In this circumstance it is right to assume that a chariot-force marshalled to fight in a open plain, like those of Qadesh, would have been visible at the advancing column of the Ra-division. Similarly, the advancing of Hittite forces (chariots and infantry) from their encampment to cross the Orontes, in correspondence with the line of march of Ra, would have been visible from the Egyptian camp.
From Some Tactical Remarks on the Battle of Qadesh by Giacomo Cavillier Like all dates of this period, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. The events took place in the 5th year of the reign of Ramses II. It is unfortunately unknown when his reign began according to the common reckoning.
(University of Rome "La Sapienza")
The Gregorian date of the battle depends on the exact year. If we accept 1273 BCE as the fifth year of the reign of Ramses II then the Egyptian date of 3rd month of the 3rd season day 9 would be Gregorian 30 April. Whatever the exact year, it was a spring campaign.
|Egyptian Accounts of the Battle of Kadesh|
|The End of the Egyptian-Hittite Hostilities|
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