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Treaty of Kadesh

Treaty of Kadesh


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From the Introduction

Among the oldest peace treaties in history is the Treaty of Kadesh, which was negotiated between the Egyptian and Hittite empires over three thousand years ago, in the middle of the 13 th century B.C.E. With neither party willing to continue incurring the costs of war, and with each side wary of looming conflict with its other neighbors, Pharaoh Ramesses II and King Hattusili III sought to negotiate an end to the conflict. Such attempts are difficult not only because the issues at stake may be contentious or complex, but because, often, neither side wants to make the first move. The side that comes asking for peace may look weak rather than wise or magnanimous, a signal that no leader can afford to send. And yet, a deal was reached. Despite having been drafted thousands of years ago, the treaty has many of the hallmarks of more recent agreements, including provisions proclaiming the end to conflict, the repatriation of refugees, an exchange of prisoners, and a mutual assistance pact if either side was attacked by others.

One other characteristic makes their accord similar to what we often see today—in peace treaties, commercial agreements, and successful efforts at resolving conflicts ranging from international disputes to arguments between spouses. This feature is only apparent in the Treaty of Kadesh because it was recorded in two languages: hieroglyphics (the Egyptian translation) and Akkadian (the Hittite translation). A comparison of the translations reveals that the two versions are, as we ought to expect, very similar. But there is at least one important difference. The Egyptian translation states that it was the Hittite’s who came asking for peace terms. The Hittite version claims exactly the opposite.

When it comes to deal-making, diplomacy and resolving disputes, it does not matter which culture you examine or what kind of negotiation you investigate. It does not matter why people were fighting or why they chose to settle their differences. Some things never change: the need for all sides to declare victory is at least as old as recorded history itself.

The Treaty of Kadesh also exposes a more fundamental insight about negotiation and peacemaking—and one that lays the foundation for this book:

Even seemingly impossible deadlocks and conflicts can be resolved if we shed the assumption that our only sources of leverage are money and muscle.

This is especially important to keep in mind when you are dealing with a situation that seems hopeless. When even your most generous offers are being rejected, when your well-intentioned attempts at addressing the issues are being thwarted, and when you have little power with which to impose a solution, you need a different approach and other sources of leverage. This book provides such an approach and reveals those sources of leverage.


Treaty of Kadesh - History

STEVEN L. OSSAD

Award-winning Biographer and Historian, One-time Wall Street Analyst, and "Writer for Hire"

The Battle of Kadesh, 1300 BC:

Public Relations Trumps Performance

Close to Tell Nebi Mend southwest of Lake Homs, along the southern bank of the Orontes River in modern northern Syria, the destinies of the two greatest empires of the age was determined near the ancient fortress city of Kadesh. There, the wills of two great kings - each motivated by by both dynastic and geopolitical considerations - met in a titanic struggle.

Ramesses II, son of Seti I and his favorite Queen Tuya, was the third Pharaoh of the XIX Dynasty and dominated the 13th Century BC. Called &ldquoRamesses the Great&rdquo even during antiquity, he was a man whose character and deeds elicit exaggerated adjectives he lived for nearly a century and ruled for 67 years, the second longest reign of any Pharaoh (only Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty @ 2300 BC ruled longer). He had 200 wives and consorts, and fathered nearly one hundred sons and sixty daughters, many of whom he outlived. He was an innovator in government, military affairs and diplomacy, and was the greatest &ldquobuilder&rdquo of all the Pharaohs, especially of monuments to his own glory. Finally, there is general agreement that he was most likely the Pharaoh who &ldquopresided&rdquo over the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage.

By 1300 BC the empires of Egypt and the Hatti, better known as the Hittites, had been locked in a vast geopolitical struggle for more than two centuries. The young pharaoh Ramesses II - a man in his mid twenties and at the beginning of what would be seven decades of rule - decided to move early to consolidate his power following a long and fractious internal struggle. Simultaneously, the long-simmering rivalry with the Hittites exploded into open warfare as the network of local Canaananite kings sensed the opportunity to capitalize on the perceived weakeness of the new Pharoah. They believed they could benefit from the fragmentation of the old system that had maintained the fragile balance of power between the Hittites and Egyptians.

As Seti I approached death, the King of Kadesh, long an Egyptian ally, switched his allegiance to the Hittites forcing an Egyptian response. Deep in what is now modern Syria, Kadesh marked the mid boundary of the traditional buffer zone that had separated the two superpowers and now threatened to fracture. Seti's successor, the young Ramesses II had no choice. He mustered his forces and marched north.

The Egyptian Army

Egypt's army, organized into four combined arms field divisions - each named for a god and based in a separate city - and numbering some 20,000 men boasted 2,500 2-horse chariots, the lightest and most maneuverable combat vehicles of the time and each bearing a two-man crew comprising the cream of Egyptian manhood drawn from the highest born. The chariots were especially adaptable to a broad range of terrain and with their higly skilled archers wielding composite bows, were capable of delivering a devastating attack against infantry and other chariots at stand-off range.

For more than a month, the Pharaoh's army, the largest assembled since Pharoah Thutmose III conquered the Canaanites, marched along the coastal Sinai road, subduing the rebellious strongholds guarding the approaches to Kadesh. Facing the brash, overly confident and relatively untested Ramesses was the tough, battle-hardened and wily Hittite King Muwatalli II, a man skilled in diplomacy and statecraft, ably assisted by his younger brother Prince Hattasuli, Commander of the Chariot host, a combat veteran of many battles, fiercely loyal, and a skilled coalition commander.

The Hittite Army

King Muwatalli commanded a larger army of 37,500 men, and mustered 3,500 heavily armed, and superbly trained chariot crews as his foe. Enjoying advantages in horsemanship, and technology, each Hittite vehicle was larger and heavier, mounted its axle in mid cab, and was thus more more stable (though slower and less maneuverable), and able to absorb more punishment.

Each chariot was drawn by two specially bred, fed, and and trained teams of horses - the result of a legendary horse-breader, whose training manual was one of the grveat treasures of antiquity. In addition, each chariot carried a crew of three, including a driver, a shield bearer, as well as a spear-bearing warrior, also armed with a composite bow, who was able to fight dismounted, providing light infantry support if the chariot engaged in close combat.

Unlike the foot soldiers supporting the Egyptians, who ran alongside the chariots, the bulk of the Hittite light infantry arrived on the battlefield transported by chariot, and thus fresh and ready for action. This was a tremendous advantage. The Hittite forces also included large contingents of infantry and chariots from their many vassal states. Finally, the Hittites enjoyed a major morale advantage - they had never been defeated.

Kadesh is the first military campaign in recorded history about which we have comprehensive contemporary documentation describing leadership, organization of forces, overall operations, field tactics, and weapons,and in the end we are left with two very different vesrions of the actual outcome. Indeed, more than three thousand years later, we still cannot give a simple answer to the question, "Who won?". The implication of that simple truth is a lesson worth pondering when wars rage all over the globe and the outcomes remain as confusing as they were after Kadesh.

Note on dates, names, and other military details. Three dates are usually given for the battle, depending on the various techniques employed by scholars in dating the rulers of the Egyptian XIXth Dynasty: 1300 BC, 1285/4 BC, and 1275/1274 BC. There is universal agreement, however, that the clash took place in the fifth year of Ramesses II’s rule, during the 5th month, or late April, early May.

There is also considerable variation in the spelling of the names of Egyptian and Hittite rulers, geographical locations. Kadesh is typically used in English-based scholarship, although Qadesh is also used, especially by scholars working in French. Considerable variation also exists with respect to the designation, size and composition of military units, especially Egyptian formations. Many other details remain the subject of active discussion even more than a century after the initial discoveries of the Egyptians sources of descriptions of the battle were published by the pioneering University of Chicago Egyptologist James Henry Breasted in 1903.

I have adopted the dates and usage found in Antonio Santosuosso’s Mondavo Award-winning essay, “Kadesh Revised: Reconstructing the Battle Between the Egyptians and the Hittites”, Journal of Military History, Vol. 60, No. 3 (July 1996), pp. 423-444 (available on the world-wide-web via JSTOR). Santasuosso, one of the few scholars to approach the battle as a military historian, reviews the details of the battle and presents the best summary in English of the generally accepted outline of what happened, as well as persuasive arguments about those details that remain in dispute.

The Sources

Note on Sources.The most important Egyptian contemporary archeological and literary evidence for reconstruction of the battle consists of two literary texts and a series of reliefs with captions. The Hittite sources include two cuneiform texts - the famous Peace Treaty and a historical account - both written in the reign of a later king. Some scholars claim that the so-called "Letter of the General" written by a contemporary subordinate of the city of Ugarit to an unknown king is also a source for the battle.

• The “Poem” - Two papyri versions survive, the P. Sallier III (British Museum), including the single page P. Raifé (Louvre) and the P. Chester Beatty III (British Museum). Eight hieratic "copies" of the Poem have been identified, all based on sculpted hieroglyphics on Temple walls.

• The “Report" or "Bulletin”, also called the "Official Report or Bulletin" based on seven hieroglyphic copies which have been identified on Temple Walls.

• Carved "Reliefs" and captions inscribed at the Temple of Amun at Thebes (Karnak complex), at the Abu Simbel Temple, and carvings and wall paintings at the "Ramesseum" also at Thebes (Luxor).

Papyrus Sallier III + P. Raifé Version of the Poem. During the reign of Merneptah, Ramses II’s successor, a treasury scribe in the north named Pen-ta-wer-it, copied the entire poem of the Battle of Kadesh for himself, or perhaps for his superior. He clearly was interested in it for its own sake as he also copied other papyri with the same theme, i.e., military events ­in which the king defends himself against his enemies. The emphasis appears to be on the king’s heroic deeds when faced with disaster. Pen-ta-wer-it changed the names of the deities referred to in some of the papyri (e.g., Amun-Re) to the northern gods, even though he says he copied the poem without making changes. At the end of the papyrus, Pen-ta-wer-it signed the document as copyist also including the name of his superior.

Most of the pages of the text are in the collection of the British Museum, London (ESA 10181). One page, the P. Raifé, is in the Louvre and another page is believed lost. The papyrus was placed in a tomb - Pen-ta-wer-it’s or his superior’s, perhaps as a gift - as part of the grave goods, copies being put into a library or other repository such as the House of Life.

Papyrus Sallier III was probably acquired in the early 19th century AD about the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt. A man named Anastasi came to Egypt to sell food and provisions to the French army. He became a friend of the Egyptian ruler, Mohammed Ali, and found that he could make money in other ways once the army was no longer a source of income i.e., selling Egyptian antiquities to Europeans. He sent agents to Memphis/Saqqara and Upper Egypt to collect such materials, including large numbers of papyri, which he collected in Alexandria. One batch was sold to a Frenchman named Sallier between 1820 and 1823, which were known to have come from tombs at Saqqara, and were taken to France. Jean Francois Champollion saw and translated them in about 1828. The British Museum bought the Anastasi collection for a large sum, and when Sallier died, his family sold his collections to the museum as well. In 1842 the British Museum published all of the Sallier and Anastasi papyri as a group.

The Chester Beatty III version of the Poem. The papyrus had several owners before it was deposited in the cemetery at Deir el-Medina. It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef on the other side of the papyrus, the scribe copied a poem about the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the Fifth Year of the reign of Ramesses II (@1300 BC). Called the Dream Book, it passed to Khaemamen, Qeniherkhepshef's wife's second husband, and then to his son Amennakht (both added their name to the papyrus). The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through the family for more than a century.


Treaty of Kadesh - History

The Battle of Kadesh was fought between two powerful empires at the time Egypt and Hittite, in circa 1275 BC. It is known as one of important battles fought in the ancient Middle East for a couple of unique elements attached to it 1) it is ‘the first true battle for study, for it is the first time in history where enough historical evidence survives, from both sides, to paint a fairly accurate picture’ (Sansal, 2011), and 2) as a result of the battle, the earliest peace treaty known in the human history emerged. This short entry tries to explore the Battle of Kadesh and the resulted Treaty from following view points (1) background history of the both empires, mainly focusing on the rulers at the time of the battle Ramesses II, the Egyptian Pharaoh, and Muwatallish II, the Great King of Hittite, (2) how the battle was fought, (3) controversies surrounding the outcome of the battle, (4) damages the battle brought to the both empires, especially focusing on political problems in Hittite, and (5) known facts about the Treaty of Kadesh.

When the battle was fought, in circa 1275 BCE, Egypt and Hittite were both acknowledged as super-powers of the day. However, both empires had to overcome their political instabilities in the preceding decades before the battle, respectively The Hittites, based on Anatolia, had ‘lost much of their northern Syrian territories to the Hurrians’ (ibid) before the succession of Suppiluliumas I, who restored ‘Hittite prestige’ (ibid) largely by introducing vassal treaty system, whilst Egypt had been ‘Occupied with her religious revolution’ (ibid) took place in the end of the XVIII Dynasty, led by Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten due to his religious conversion.

Suppiluliumas I, now the king of Hittite empire, at first attempted an alliance with Egypt, however, ‘he eventually decided against such a step’ (ibid), then persuaded ‘Ugarit – the last main Egyptian stronghold in Syria – to defect’ (ibid), and he ‘led a successful assault against the Pharaoh’s forces in Syria, pushing Egyptian boundaries back behind Kadesh’ (ibid). At that time, ‘Egypt was in no position to rebuke the Hittite advances’ (ibid) and it would be also worth to mention that although her real intention is uncertain, ‘the widow of the young-king Tutankhamun asked for the betrothal’ (ibid) of a son of Suppiluliumas I at this occasion, that resulted in only to see ‘the Hittite prince…assassinated on his way to her’ (ibid).
Nevertheless, the newly established XIX Dynasty saw ‘the rise of the more aggressive and military-apt’ (ibid) Pharaohs and it was Sety I, one of such Pharaohs, who ‘set the stage for the conflict between Egypt and the Hittites’ (ibid). Although he ‘had secured Palestine and Kadesh for Egypt… (being) content with the victory, (Sety I) had made no provision for holding the city’ (Mark, 2012) so that his ‘attempt to capture (Kadesh) was… proved unsuccessful’ (Sansal, 2011). Before the Battle of Kadesh, rulers of both empires replaced to the next generation Muwatallish II, the king of Hittites, who ‘rose to power in 1308 BCE, and was content with defending the current borders of the Hittite empire, roused to action only when required’ (ibid) and Ramesses II, son of Pharaoh Sety I, who succeeded the throne in c. 1279 BCE ‘at the age of just 15’ (Devillier Donegan Enterprise, 2006). Nonetheless, the former was careful enough on defence policy and he ‘had been making regular incursions into Egyptian territory for some time and, having now fortified Kadesh’ (Mark, 2012).

In 1275 BCE – ‘in the fifth year of his reign’ (ibid) – Ramesses II ‘marched from Egypt toward Syria to secure the border City of Kadesh, a valuable stop on the trade routes of the day’ (ibid), leading his ‘force of around 20,000’ (Sansal, 2011) divided in four divisions. It is said that the detail of the battle can be vividly pictured since enough documents were written by the both sides, including various reports, bulletins and even a poem by the Pharaoh himself. According to these accounts, it seems that the battle roughly went like the following way:

‘Ramesses, completely confident of victory, marched his first division in such haste that he soon outdistanced the other three. Nearing Kadesh, two bedouins were taken prisoner and interrogated as to the whereabouts of Muwatalli(sh) and his army, answering that the army was nowhere near Kadesh and that Muwatalli(sh) feared the might of Egypt and the young Pharaoh. The bedouins were actually spies, however, planted by the Hittites, and Muwatalli(sh) had already fortified Kadesh and his chariots (3,500 of them) and infantry (37,000 men) were waiting just over the next hill… (Then) Ramesses captured some other spies who revealed the unpleasant truth of his situation but the intelligence came too late. In his zeal to capture Kadesh and conquer the Hittite king, Ramesses had cut himself off from the rest of his army. He hastily sent messengers to the other three divisions just before the Hittite chariots crashed into his camp… ‘(Mark, 2012)

‘Ramesses… sped in haste, with his small personal guard, to strategic hill near the marauding Hittites, erecting a fort and valiantly fending off his enemies, despite overwhelming numbers. Relief was at hand, when the second army that had travelled by boat, arrived and fought of the now disorganized Hittite forces. The enemy withdrew and took to Kadesh’ (Sansal, 2011).

Finally, Ramesses lead the remains of his divisions all together, which featured ‘the faster and more agile two-man… chariot(s) as compared with the three-man, heavier, Hittite vehicle(s)’ (Mark. 2012)and drove ‘the Hittite forces back to the Orontes river where many drowned’ (ibid).

Despite the survival of various historical evidences, the conclusion of the battle is equivocal due to the fact that both sides claimed victory, as it follows

‘Ramesses claimed a great victory at Kadesh and had a scribe take down his account of the glorious battle Muwatalli(sh)’s account differed considerably, most notably in that he set down Kadesh as a Hittite victory. While Ramesses failed to achieve his objective of capturing the city, he did break the Hittite army on the field and, while Muwatalli(sh) retained control of Kadesh, he failed to crush the Egyptians as he hoped to’ (ibid).

In addition, Mark focuses on Muwatallish II’s mysterious inaction at the decisive point during the battle when Ramesses II was trapped to self-inflicted predicament by having outdistanced other divisions. He argues, ‘At this point Muwatalli(sh) only needed to march from the walls of Kadesh to trap Ramesses’ forces between his army by the river and his advance but, for reasons unknown, he decided to remain in the city and never committed his reserve troops to battle’ (ibid).

Reasons why it took about 16 years before ratification of the treaty after the battle could be explained by looking at the damages the battle brought to the both empires.

‘Though Muwatallish had halted Egyptian expansion and defined a peaceful border of the Hittite Empire, this battle had serious consequences for the Hittites. During the conflict with Egypt, Assyria had annexed Mitanni, removing the buffer that the Hittites so relied upon. For Egypt, the defeat of her army led to an all-out revolt by her Canaan vassals, and with them went the last great possessions of the Pharaoh’s beyond the Sinai’ (Sansal, 2011).

Furthermore, Hittite saw a huge turmoil after the death of king Muwatallish II, which caused civil war between the legitimate successor Mursilli III, son of the deceased king, and the challenger Hattusili, a younger brother of the deceased. According to official accounts, ‘Hattušili took up Muršili when Muwattalli(sh) died and made him Great King… Hattušili was loyal to Muršili, but Muršili broke his word to Hattušili and did wrong against him, so that Hattušili revolted against this oppression. The judgment of the gods made Hattušili victorious’ (Hittites.info, 2000).

It would be needless to point out that official history has been always written by the winners, in this case, Hattusili III. To make the background a little bit clearer for better understanding, it would be useful to go back the time to Suppiluliuma I’s reign, where the seed of Hittite’s issues was sown:

‘Without any known exceptions, previous usurpers came to the throne through assassination, not civil war. The reason for this was fairly straight forward. Until the empire (introduces the vassal treaty system), armies were led by generals who were appointed by the king on a campaign-by-campaign basis. Therefore a general had little opportunity to build up a power base against his sovereign.

The vassal treaty system would ultimately undermine this system. Šuppiluliuma I introduced the widespread use of the treaty to control vassal kings. His reasons were undoubtedly sound. He made treaties with kings of distant lands which he could not reasonably incorporate into the closely controlled provincial system. But, from the very beginning, this system demonstrated a dismal record for maintaining a vassal’s loyalty. Even worse… this system was internalized by Muwattalli(sh) II when he created the kingdom of Hakpiš for Hattušili. This may have meant a reduction in imperial expenditure on this deeply troubled region, but it also meant that there was now an army whose loyalty was centred around the vassal king(Hattusili), rather than upon the Great King (Muwattallish II). Whether or not he realized it, Muršili III undoubtedly had the right idea when he tried to eliminate this threat to his authority. In the end, however, Muršili proved unable to undo the damage done by his father. Hattušili used the army of Hakpiš to defeat the imperial army and seize the imperial throne (ibid).

Even though Hattusili III, attempting to establish his legitimacy and authority, forced ‘the loyalty oath which the Men of Hatti were required to swear to the new Great King’ (ibid), it seems that, due to the vassal treaty system, his reign failed to bring back stability to the empire. Especially in the west part, it is said that ‘Hattušili rapidly lost control of the situation’ (ibid) because vassal kings ‘were sworn to support the legitimate king, and to attack a usurper. If ever a vassal wished to throw off the yoke of Hittite rule, he was now presented with the perfect excuse to do so’ (ibid).

Given the situation above, ‘Hattusilis evaluated the condition of his empire and… he became increasingly friendly with Egypt. In the twenty-first year of Ramesses’ reign, ca. 1259, Hattusilis and Ramesses created a diplomatic treaty, the first document of its kind. Hattusilis sealed this deal by marrying his daughter to Ramesses’ (Sansal, 2011).

This diplomatic treaty between Hattusilis III of Hittites and Ramesses II of Egypt is known as the Treaty of Kadesh. It is argued that its contents can be roughly summarised in a couple of following points:

a) Mutual military assistance: ‘If domestic or foreign enemies marches against one of these two countries and if they ask help from each other, both parties will send their troops and chariots in order to help. If a nobleman flees from Hatti and seeks refuge in Egypt, the king of Egypt will catch him and send back to his country’ (Istanbul Archaeological Museums).

b) Mutual extradition: ‘If people flee from Egypt to Hatti or from Hatti to Egypt, those will be sent back. However, they will not be punished severely, they will not shed tears and their wives and children will not be punished in revenge (ibid).

In addition, due to the troublesome situation of the Hittite empire, the treaty also made sure of Egypt’s support for the ‘Security in the problem of Hattusilis’ succession’ (Sansal, 2011).

The contents of the Treaty had been known through a text ‘carved on a stele in the Egyptian Tempel of Karnak in Egyptian hieroglyphs’ (Istanbul Archaeological Museums) until the discovery of a clay tablet at Boğazköy in 1906. The tablet was written ‘in Akkadian, then the language of diplomacy’ (ibid) and it ‘had many missing pieces and contained only about half of the text. During later excavations, four pieces belonging to the main text were found and the missing parts were completed’ (ibid).

Due to the fact that ‘it is the first written peace treaty in the history, a 2-meter long copper copy of the original tablet’ (ibid) is hanged on a wall of ‘the United Nations building in New York, demonstrating to modern statesmen that international treaties are a tradition going back to the earliest civilizations’ (Sansal, 2011).

Thus, this short entry tried to examine the Battle of Kadesh, which was fought between Egypt and Hittite, in circa 1275 BC. In doing so, it began with looking at troublesome background the both empires, where Hittite suffered loss of her territory until the succession of Suppiluliumas I whilst Egypt was also in turmoil due to the religious revolution until the establishment of the XIX Dynasty. Then it shifted its focus to the battle itself, where Ramesses II, the Egyptian Pharaoh, was trapped in a partly self-inflicted predicament whilst Muwatallish II, the Great King of Hittite, refrained from giving the opponent a fatal blow at the decisive point during the battle for reasons unknown. Subsequently, it assessed the result of the battle in which, both sides claimed victory although Ramesses II failed to achieve his purpose – to capture the city of Kadesh – and Muwatahhish II could not achieve to crash the Egyptian army as he had hoped. It followed by looking at instabilities brought to the both empires due to the aftermath of the battle, in which, Egypt lost control of her Canaan vessels whilst Hittite was thrown into the civil war after the death of Muwatallish II. As for the latter, it also focused on the vassal treaty system introduced by Suppiluliumas I as an important element that caused the civil war between Mursilli III and his uncle Hattusili and further instability extended to the Hattusili III’s reign. Finally, it briefly looked at the contents of the Treaty of Kadesh, history of its discovery and excavations and referred to a copper copy exhibited in the United Nations building in New York and its symbolical meaning there.

Devillier Donegan Enterprise (2006), Ramesses II, PBS – Egypt’s Golden Empire – New Kingdom (accessed 06/01/2013)

Hittites.info (2000), Hattušili III (

1249), Son of Muršili II, History – Late Empire, Part 3 (accessed on 12/01/2013)

Istanbul Archaeological Museums (year unstated) Treaty of Kadesh, Collections – Ancient Orient Museum (accessed 01/01/2013)

Mark, Joshua J. (2012) The Battle of Kadesh and the First Peace Treaty, Ancient History Encyclopedia (accessed on 01/01/2013)

Sansal, Burak (2011), Battle of Kadesh (c. 1275 BC), All About Turkey – History (accessed 02/01/2013)


Texts

The first translation of the Akkadian version of the treaty was published in 1916 by E.F. Weidner. [20] It is the only ancient Near Eastern treaty for which both sides' versions have survived, enabling the two to be compared directly. It was structured to be an almost entirely symmetrical treaty, treating both sides equally and requiring them to undertake mutual obligations. There are a few differences for instance, the Hittite version adopts a somewhat evasive preamble, asserting that "as for the relationship between land of Egypt and the Hatti land, since eternity the god does not permit the making of hostility between them because of a treaty valid forever." By contrast, the Egyptian version states straightforwardly that the two states had been at war. [4]

The treaty proclaims that both sides would in future forever remain at peace, binding the children and grandchildren of the parties. They would not commit acts of aggression against each other, they would repatriate each other's political refugees and criminals and they would assist each other in suppressing rebellions. Each would come to the other's aid if threatened by outsiders: "And if another enemy come [against] the land of Hatti . the great king of Egypt shall send his troops and his chariots and shall slay his enemy and he shall restore confidence to the land of Hatti." [4]

The text concludes with an oath before "a thousand gods, male gods and female gods" of the lands of Egypt and Hatti, witnessed by "the mountains and rivers of the lands of Egypt the sky the earth the great sea the winds the clouds." If the treaty was ever violated, the oath-breaker would be cursed by the gods who "shall destroy his house, his land and his servants." Conversely, he who maintained his vows would be rewarded by the gods, who "will cause him to be healthy and to live." [4]


Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty, 1259 B.C.

This Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty is the oldest known surviving peace treaty and the only ancient Near Eastern treaty for which both sides’ versions have survived.

The peace treaty is the earliest example of any written international agreement of any kind. It followed the Battle of Kadesh fought some sixteen years earlier. The text concludes with a binding oath commitment before:

“a thousand gods, male gods, and female gods.”

However, if the treaty were violated, the oath-breaker would be cursed by the gods who:

“shall destroy his house, his land, and his servants.”

If the vows were kept, the gods:

“will cause him to be healthy and to live.”

The treaty proclaims that both sides would in future forever remain at peace, binding the children and grandchildren of the parties.

This clay tablet version was initially copied from silver tablets given to each side, which have since been lost.

The Egyptian version of the peace treaty was engraved in hieroglyphics on the walls of two temples belonging to Pharaoh Ramesses II in Thebes.

The scribes who engraved the Egyptian version of the treaty included descriptions of the figures and seals that were on the silver tablet that the Hittites delivered.

The Hittite clay tablet versions were found in the Hittite capital of Hattusa in present-day Turkey, preserved on baked clay tablets among the Hittite royal palace archives.

Two clay tablets are on display in Istanbul, and another is on display in the Berlin State Museums in Germany.

A copy of this treaty is also prominently displayed on a wall in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Peace Treaty Background

The treaty was signed to end a long war between the Hittite Empire and the Egyptians, who had fought for over two centuries to gain mastery over the lands of the eastern Mediterranean.

The conflict culminated with an attempted Egyptian invasion in 1274 BC that was stopped by the Hittites at the city of Kadesh in what is now Syria.

The Battle of Kadesh resulted in both sides suffering heavy casualties, but neither was able to prevail decisively.

The conflict continued inconclusively for about fifteen more years before the treaty was signed.

The treaty was negotiated by intermediaries without the two monarchs ever meeting in person.

Both sides had common interests in making peace Egypt faced a threat from the “Sea Peoples,” while the Hittites were concerned about Assyria to the east.

The treaty was ratified in 1258 BC and continued until the Hittite Empire collapsed eighty years later.

Egyptian-Hittite Peace Treaty – Cachette courtyard in the Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt

Battle of Kadesh

The Battle of Kadesh took place in 1274 BC between Egypt under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh near the modern Lebanon–Syria border.

The battle is the oldest battle in recorded history for which details of tactics and formations are known. It is believed to have been the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving up to 6,000 chariots.

The discovery of multiple Kadesh inscriptions and the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, makes it the best-documented battle in all of ancient history.

After expelling the Hyksos, the Egyptian New Kingdom rulers became more aggressive in reclaiming control of their state’s borders. Several Pharos fought battles to extend and control their northeastern borders.

The immediate antecedents to the Battle of Kadesh were the early campaigns of Ramesses II into Canaan. In the fourth year of his reign, he marched north into Syria.

Ramesses led an army of four divisions, which included Egyptian allies and mercenaries. On the Hittite side, king Muwatalli had mustered several of his allies, which reflected the extent of Hittite influence at the time.

Muwatalli II commanded a large force of chariots and infantry, plus the walls of the town. After six charges, the Hittite forces were almost surrounded. The more massive Hittite chariots were quickly overtaken and dispatched by the lighter, faster Egyptian chariots.

There is no consensus about the outcome with views ranging from an Egyptian victory to a draw, or an Egyptian defeat. The Hittite forces were forced to retreat, but the Egyptians were unsuccessful in capturing Kadesh.

Logistically unable to support a long siege of the walled city of Kadesh, Ramesses gathered his troops and ultimately returned to Egypt.

Once back in Egypt, Ramesses proclaimed victory, having routed his enemies however, he had not captured Kadesh.

Hittite records document a different conclusion to the broader campaign, in which Ramesses was forced to depart from Kadesh in defeat.

Modern historians conclude that the battle ended in a draw. However, the Egyptians successfully developed new technologies and rearmed, allowing them to push back further incursions by the Hittites.

An official peace treaty with Hattusili III, the new king of the Hittites some fifteen years after the Battle of Kadesh, finally concluded the long-running borderlands conflicts.

Hieroglyphics version of the Egyptian-Hittite Peace Treaty from the Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt

Peace Treaty Contents

Each side made pledges of brotherhood and peace to the other with a mutual guarantee that they would not invade the other’s land.

The treaty established boundaries and made formal renunciations to further hostilities.

A clause promotes an alliance by making reassurances of aid if either party is attacked by a third party or by internal forces of rebellion. Each country agreed to extradite political refugees to their home country.

The two rulers called upon the respective gods of Hatti and Egypt to bear witness to their agreement.

The inclusion of the gods is a common feature in ancient international law since only a direct appeal to the gods could provide the means to guarantee adherence to the treaty.

The ability of the goods to bestow curses and blessings was a severe penalty in case of a violation.


The first written peace treaty

The land called the Levant, encompassing modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, has been rife with warfare, bloodshed, migrations, bombings and untold miseries for its people. But it doesn’t have to be so, provided that the lessons of history are taken as a guide. In the year 1274 BC, three-and-a-quarter centuries ago, the Egyptian empire located along the River Nile and the Hittite empire spread over present day Turkey went to a prolonged war over control of the Levant. But eventually they negotiated and signed a peace treaty. It was a remarkable diplomatic triumph that assured peace and cooperation between the two nations until the Hittite empire disintegrated a century later. We will recount the story of this remarkable treaty.

In 1822, the French Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion decoded the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic system of writing. One of the texts translated by researchers was 30 lines of writing at the Temple of Karnak on the wall extending south of the Great Hypostyle Hall in present-day Luxor on the right bank of river Nile. The text depicted in prose and verse a treaty between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt and Hittite King Hattusili III. The last ten lines of the same text were also discovered at Ramesseum on the west bank of the river opposite Luxor.

The fighting between Egypt and Hatti ended in a stalemate

The writings tell of a long bloody war between the two states before the draft of the treaty was brought from Hattusa the capital of Hittite state, on a silver tablet, and was presented to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

It was an interesting story told by the Egyptian ruins – but unsubstantiated by sources from the other side, i.e. the Hittites, whose existence was only known through Egyptian and Biblical texts. Hittite ruins had, as yet, not been established.

In 1906-08, Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist and professor of oriental languages at the University of Berlin, in conjunction with Ottomon-Greek Theodore Makridi, the then director of Istanbul Archaeological Museum, excavated a site in central Turkey and found ruins that turned out to be the remains of Hattusa. They had hit a vein of an archaeological gold mine – collecting 10,000 clay tablets written in the language that was the lingua-franca of the region in the 13th century BC. The professor could read the language. Among these tablets, he found three that prescribed a peace treaty between Egypt and the Hittites. The professor called it the most significant achievement of his life. Two of these tablets are displayed in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum while the third is on display at the Berlin State Museum in Germany.

This Hittite text found in Turkey is the exact translation of the text found in Egypt, confirming the occurrence of the long war and the conclusion of the peace treaty

This text found in Turkey is the exact translation of the text found in Egypt, confirming the occurrence of the long war and the conclusion of the peace treaty. This is the oldest written peace treaty discovered to date. Considering that the two empires used two entirely different languages and yet the texts are identical, it testifies to the proficiency of the translators.

As has been noted above, the treaty was the sequel to a long drawn out war between the two superpowers of the time. In the 13th century BC, the region that we now call Middle East or, more specifically the eastern Mediterranean, was home to four powerful empires. They included the Assyrians in the present day Iraq, the Egyptians along the river Nile, the Hittites in present-day Turkey and the Mycenaeans around the Aegean Sea. In addition, there are numerous references in the written records of the era to the powerful and savage ‘Sea People’ who were attacking and ravaging the coastal cities and towns around the Mediterranean.

Replica of the treaty at the United Nations

As history testifies, the relationship between superpowers ultimately becomes competitive and belligerent due to conflicting territorial and economic interests. Egypt and Hatti were no exceptions. Both wanted to expand into the Levant. The tussle between the two for control of the area had continued for decades. Before the two came into physical contact with a common border, there was an independent buffer state across south-east Turkey and north-east Syria that separated the two powers. When the expansionist Hittite empire took over the buffer state, it came face-to-face with the Egyptian zone of influence with their border placed somewhere north of Tripoli (now in Lebanon) and going east through the town of Kadesh on the River Ontoroe south of Homs. As the Hittite empire had aspirations to expand further south, it resulted in armed conflicts with the Egyptian empire.

Ramses II is also known as Ramses the Great due to his long rule and achievements. He was born in 1303 BC and assumed the throne in 1279 at the age of 24. He ruled for 66 years and died at the age of 90. Because the Egyptians meticulously recorded the events of their Pharaohs’ reigns on clay tablets and temple walls, the history of the monarch is well preserved.

Three-man Hittite chariots

In the 5th year of his reign in 1274 BC, Ramses launched an attack against Hittite forces in Syria to capture the city of Kadesh. In preparation for this campaign, he displayed remarkable industrial prowess. His armament factories produced 1,000 weapons a week, about 250 chariots in two weeks, and 1,000 shields in a week and a half. Egypt finally launched the attack with 20,000 troops comprising four divisions and 2,000 chariots. Opposing him was the Hittite army, led by their king Muwatalli II, of somewhere from 25 to 40,000 men and 2,500 to 3,500 chariots. The Egyptian army camped on the western bank of the river Orontoes whereas the Hittite army was stationed on its eastern bank, north of Kadesh.

With this large number of chariots on both sides, the battle of Kadesh is also known as the largest ever battle involving chariots. The Egyptians used two-man chariots that were smaller in size and hence more agile and manoeuvrable, whereas the Hittites deployed larger three-man chariots that were slower but packed more power. Both types were powered by two horses each.

The Levant (modern-day Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) became the focus of rivalry and war between Egypt and Hatti

Having watched the chariot race umpteenth times between Charleston Heston and Stephen Boyd in the 1959 movie Ben Hur, I hope that one day a new William Wyler would be able to recreate a cinematic version of the chariot clash fought in the battle of Kadesh!

After much bloodshed, heavy causalities and loss of life on both sides, the Hittite army retreated but the Egyptians too, unable to capture Kadesh, retreated. The battle is now categorised as a draw. Posterity has learnt about the battle from Egyptian engravings which claim a great victory for Ramses but military historians’ analysis of the battle and subsequent events prove that neither side won a decisive victory.

The text of the treaty, as found in Turkey

The heavy losses on both sides dampened the fighting spirits of both the warring empires. In addition, the Hittites were now threatened by the Assyrians, who would eventually annihilate them a century later in 1178 BC. The Egyptians, too, were facing a menacing onslaught by the Sea People on their coastal area. This forced both the empires to talk about peace. Negotiations and skirmishes between the two would continue for another 15 years. The peace treaty was finally formalised in 1259 BC when Hattusili III was the Hittite king.

It is a symmetrical treaty that treats both sides equally and requires them to undertake mutual obligations. The treaty contains more than 20 principles and obligations for both sides.

It proclaims that that both sides would in future forever remain at peace and would not commit acts of aggression against each other, binding the children and grandchildren of the parties to the adherence of the treaty. It states: “There shall be no hostilities between them, forever. The great chief of Kheta (Hittites) shall not pass over into the land of Egypt, forever, to take anything there from, forever. The great ruler of Egypt shall not pass over into the land of Hatti, to take anything there from, forever.

Each side committed to come to the other’s aid if threatened by outsiders: “And if another enemy come [against] the land of Hatti … the great king of Egypt shall send his troops and his chariots and shall slay his enemy and he shall restore confidence to the land of Hatti.” Reciprocally, it states that in case of an attack on Egypt by third party, the country of Hatti would send its infantry and chariots in aid of the former.

The text of the same treaty in Egypt

Mindful of the hostility created by high-ranking rebellious asylum seekers of a hostile empire, the treaty stipulates as obligation number 11 that, “if any great man shall flee from the land of Hatti to Egypt (and vice versa), then the great ruler of Egypt shall not receive them, (but) cause them to be brought to the great chief of Hatti. They shall not be settled.

The treaty, however, forbade punishment of the persons thus returned.

In conclusion the gods of two nations and the natural elements are invoked to preserve the treaty and punish the violator. It states with an oath before “a thousand gods, male gods and female gods” of the lands of Egypt and Hatti, witnessed by “the mountains and rivers of the lands of Egypt the sky the earth the great sea the winds the clouds.” If the treaty was ever violated, the oath-breaker would be cursed by the gods who “shall destroy his house, his land and his servants.” Conversely, he who maintained his vows would be rewarded by the gods, who “will cause him to be healthy and to live.”

Interestingly the treaty is now referred to as the “Treaty of Kadesh”, as a postlude to the eponymous battle, yet its actual text doesn’t mention the word Kadesh. Also Ramses never met Muwatalli or Hattusilli III. The treaty was finalised through diplomats. As the capital cities of two empires were separated by 2,000 kilometres and it involved multiple arduous journeys, the lengthy negotiations testify to the tenacity of the diplomats and earnestness of the two emperors. As a reward, they enjoyed a mutual peace for 80 long years.

In 1970, a bronze replica of the Hittite tablets bearing the text of the treaty was presented by Turkey to the UN, where it now hangs prominently on one of walls as a reminder of the principle aim of the organisation.

Parvez Mahmood retired as a Group Captain from PAF and is now a software engineer. He lives in Islamabad and writes on social and historical issues. He can be reached at [email protected]


Aims [ edit | edit source ]

Egyptian aims [ edit | edit source ]

Considering his relatively stronger position over Hattušiliš, what would Ramesses hope to achieve by accepting an alliance with his hated Hittite enemies? After fifteen years of futile attempts at regaining his lost territory in Syria, scholars argue that Ramesses now realized that his opportunities to match the military achievements of Tuthmosis III were unrealizable. In that light, it became increasingly important for Ramesses to obtain an international victory through diplomacy to bolster his deeds as pharaoh. ⎳] The attempts at regaining the lands that the Hittites had taken had ultimately failed to break the hold that the Hittites had over the region. Instead Ramesses would take his losses so long as the Hittites would recognize the current division of Syria, give Egypt access to ports in the Hittite territory to boost commerce, and grant trading access as far north as Ugarit. ⎴] Therefore the advancement Egypt's financial and security interests controlled Ramesses' willingness to pursue friendlier relations with the Hittites. Maintaining the status quo in the region became a priority for Ramesses considering the emergence of the Assyrian military power. Assyria as a military force was not to be reckoned with and thereby made it desirable to ensure that Assyria would not have a presence in Syria. If the Assyrians were allowed to enter Syria they would be an arm's length away from Egypt herself and pose a threat to Egypt proper. ⎵] By accepting the Hittite overture of alliance the newly made allies would help safeguard their mutual holdings in Syria against this upstart power. ⎶]

Besides the added incentive of no longer stressing the finances with expensive wars with Hatti and increasing the security of Egypt's claims in Syria, signing the treaty with Hatti also provided Ramesses the opportunity to brag about his "defeat" of the Hittites. Since Hattušiliš had been the one to approach Ramesses, the pharaoh in his depictions at the Ramesseum represents the settlement as one that the Hittite had asked for in a position of submission. ⎷] Considering the official language of the treaties at the time was completely independent of one another Ramesses was able to present the terms of the treaty from his perspective. This free control over the depictions of his role by the language of the treaty gave the pharaoh opportunity to present a greatly idealized point of view. ⎸] His ability to assert a sense of supremacy as ruler of Egypt and his attempts to portray this strategic alliance as a victory over the Hittites demonstrate why Ramesses' would be so willing to choose such a mutually beneficial peace. The conclusion of open hostilities between the two regional powers was a personal triumph for the aging pharaoh and as his monument at Abu Simbel shows the pharaoh made his subjects well aware of the fact that he, Ramesses, was the conqueror of the Hittites. ⎹]

Hittite aims [ edit | edit source ]

In opposition to Ramesses' strength in international affairs, Hattušiliš III was disadvantaged by questions of legitimacy that raised doubts about his position as king of the Hittites. Although Hattušiliš had defeated his nephew, Urhi-Tesub, for the throne in all regards he continued to be seen as a usurper of the kingship. Urhi-Tesub's determination to regain the throne from his uncle caused the Hittite empire to enter into a period of instability both at home and abroad. ⎺] The nephew had been banished after an unsuccessful coup and had ended up in Egypt. Ramesses II thereby posed a direct threat to Hattušiliš' reign by harboring Urhi-Tesub within Egypt's borders. ⎻] Hattušiliš realized that only an alliance with Ramesses could prevent the monarch from unleashing his nephew back into contention with him for the throne. By completing a treaty with Egypt, Hattušiliš also hoped that garnering the endorsement as the true king of Hatti by Ramesses would effectively reconcile the disaffected elements in his kingdom that backed Urhi-Tesub as the rightful possessor of the kingship. ⎼] In the Near Eastern world Ramesses wielded great power amongst the rulers of the day and formal recognition from him would give Hattušiliš credibility on the international scene as well.

The threat of his nephew staging another coup against him greatly worried Hattušiliš during a time when he faced a considerable threat from the Assyrians in the east. During the reign of his predecessor the Assyrian king had taken Hanigalbat which had been a vassal territory under Hittite control. ⎽] This aggression strained the relationship between the two countries however more importantly the Assyrians appeared to put themselves in the position to launch further attacks across the Euphrates River. The recognized threat of Assyrian invasion proved a strong motivator for the Hittites to open up negotiations with Egypt. It was this certainty about the 'Assyrian danger' that pushed the Hatti into a relationship with Egypt. ⎾] Under the terms of the treaty the Egyptians would be obligated to join with their Hatti allies if Assyria invaded Hittite territory. Besides this threat to the east, Hattušiliš recognized the need to strengthen his relationship with his Egyptian neighbors. The competition that had existed between Hatti and Egypt over the Syrian lands was no longer an interest to Hattušiliš. In fact, Trevor Bryce argues that Hattušiliš was satisfied with his current holdings in Syria, and any further expansion of Hittite territory southward was both unjustifiable and undesirable. ⎿]


Contents

The treaty was signed to end a long war between the Hittite Empire and the Egyptians, who had fought for over two centuries to gain mastery over the lands of the eastern Mediterranean. The conflict culminated with an attempted Egyptian invasion in 1274 BC that was stopped by the Hittites at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River in what is now Syria. The Battle of Kadesh resulted in both sides suffering heavy casualties, but neither was able to prevail decisively in either the battle or the war. The conflict continued inconclusively for about fifteen more years before the treaty was signed. Although it is often referred to as the "Treaty of Kadesh", it was actually signed long after the battle, and Kadesh is not mentioned in the text. The treaty is thought to have been negotiated by intermediaries without the two monarchs ever meeting in person. [7] Both sides had common interests in making peace Egypt faced a growing threat from the "Sea Peoples", while the Hittites were concerned about the rising power of Assyria to the east. The treaty was ratified in the 21st year of Ramesses II's reign (1258 BC) and continued in force until the Hittite Empire collapsed eighty years later. [8]

Earlier relationship with Hittites Edit

Hittite-Egyptian relations officially began once Hatti took over Mitanni's role as the ruling power in central Syria and from there tensions would continue to be high until the conclusion of the treaty nearly 100 years later. [9] During the invasion and the eventual defeat of Mitanni, the Hittite armies poured into Syria and began to exert their rule over the Egyptian vassals of Kadesh and Amurru. The loss of these lands in northern Syria would never be forgotten by the Egyptian pharaohs, and their later actions demonstrated that they never would fully concede that loss at the hands of the Hittite Empire. [10] Egypt's attempts to regain the territory lost during the rule of Akhenaten continued to be futile until under the leadership of Seti I, the father of Ramesses II, significant gains started to be made. In his own Kadesh-Amurru campaign against the Hittite armies, Seti I vanquished his foes at a battle near Kadesh, but the gains proved short-lived since Kadesh was eventually given up by Seti in a later treaty. [11]

The short gain by the Egyptians was the "opening salvo" of a conflict between the two empires, which would drag on over the next two decades. [12]

Battle of Kadesh Edit

The accounts of this battle mainly are derived from Egyptian literary accounts known as the Bulletin (also known as the Record) and the Poem as well as pictorial Reliefs. [13] Unfortunately for scholars and individuals interested in the Battle of Kadesh, the details that those sources provide are heavily biased interpretations of the events. Since Ramesses II had complete control over the building projects, the resources were used for propagandist purposes by the pharaoh, who used them to brag about his victory at Kadesh. [12] It is still known that Ramesses marched through Syria with four divisions of troops in the hopes of destroying the Hittite presence there and restoring Egypt to the "preeminent position it had enjoyed under Tuthmosis III". [14] The Hittite king, Muwatalli II, gathered together an army of his allies to prevent the invasion of his territory. At the site of Kadesh, Ramesses foolishly outdistanced the remainder of his forces and, after hearing unreliable intelligence regarding the Hittite position from a pair of captured prisoners, the pharaoh pitched camp across from the town. [15] The Hittite armies, hidden behind the town, launched a surprise attack against the Amun division and quickly sent the division scattering. Although Ramesses tried to rally his troops against the onslaught of the Hittite chariots, it was only after the arrival of relief forces from Amurru that the Hittite attack was thrown back. [12]

Although the Egyptians were able to survive a terrible predicament in Kadesh, it was not the splendid victory that Ramesses sought to portray but a stalemate in which both sides had sustained heavily losses. [16] After an unsuccessful attempt to gain further ground the following day, Ramesses headed back south to Egypt bragging about his individual achievements during Kadesh. Even though Ramesses technically won the battle, he ultimately lost the war since Muwatalli and his army retook Amurru and extended the buffer zone with Egypt further southward. [17]

Subsequent campaigns into Syria Edit

Despite suffering the later losses during his invasion of Syria, Ramesses II launched another campaign in his eighth year of rule, which proved largely successful. Instead of launching an attack against the heavily fortified position of Kadesh or going through Amurru, Ramesses conquered the city of Dapur in the hope of using the city as a bridgehead for future campaigns. [18] After the successful capture of Dapur, the army returned to Egypt, and so the recently acquired territory reverted to Hittite control. In the tenth year of his rule, he launched another attack on the Hittite holdings in central Syria, and yet again, all areas of conquest eventually returned to Hittite hands. The pharaoh now recognized the impossible task of holding Syria in such a fashion and so ended the northern campaign. [19]

The period is notable in the relationship between the Hittites and the Egyptians because despite the hostilities between the two nations and military conquests in Syria, Kadesh had been the last direct, official military confrontation fought among the Hittites and Egyptians. In some regards, as historians including German assyriologist Horst Klengel [de] have noted, the period could be considered "cold war" between Hatti and Egypt. [1]

Egyptian text Edit

The Egyptian treaty was found in two originals: [C] one with 30 lines at the Temple of Karnak on the wall extending south of the Great Hypostyle Hall, and the second showing 10 lines, at the Ramesseum. [20] Jean-François Champollion copied a portion of the accords in 1828 and his findings were published posthumously in 1844. [C] [21] The Egyptian account described a great battle against the "Great King of Khatti".

Hittite text Edit

In 1906–1908, the German archaeologist Hugo Winckler excavated the site of the Hittite capital, Hattusa (now Boğazkale in Turkey) in conjunction with Theodore Makridi, the second director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The joint Turkish-German team found the remains of the royal archives, where they discovered 10,000 clay tablets written with cuneiform documenting many of the Hittites' diplomatic activities. [22] The haul included three tablets on which the text of the treaty was inscribed in the Akkadian language, a lingua franca of the time. Winckler immediately grasped the significance of the discovery:

. a marvelously preserved tablet which immediately promised to be significant. One glance at it and all the achievement of my life faded into insignificance. Here it was – something I might have jokingly called a gift from the fairies. Here it was: Ramses writing to Hattusilis about their joint treaty . confirmation that the famous treaty which we knew from the version carved on the temple walls at Karnak might also be illuminated from the otherwise. Ramses is identified by his royal titles and pedigree exactly as in the Karnak text of the treaty Hattusilis is described in the same way – the content is identical, word for word with parts of the Egyptian version [and] written in beautiful cuneiform and excellent Babylonian . As with the history of the people of Hatti, the name of this place was completely forgotten. But the people of Hatti evidently played an important role in the evolution of the ancient Western world, and though the name of this city and the name of the people were totally lost for so long, their rediscovery now opens up possibilities we cannot yet begin to think of. [23]

The Hittite treaty was discovered by Hugo Winckler in 1906 at Boğazkale in Turkey. [24] [25] In 1921, Daniel David Luckenbill, crediting Bruno Meissner for the original observation, noted that "this badly broken text is evidently the Hittite version of the famous battle of Kadesh, described in prose and verse by the scribes of Ramses II". [26]

The peace treaty of Ramesses II and Hattušiliš III is known as one of the most important official "international" peace treaties between two great powers from the ancient Near East because its exact wording is known to us. [27] Divided into points, the treaty flows between the Egyptians and Hittites as each side makes pledges of brotherhood and peace to the other in terms of the objectives. The treaty can be seen as a promise of peace and alliance since both powers make the mutual guarantee that they would not invade the other's land. That provision ensured that both participants would act in harmony regarding the disputed Syrian holdings and, in effect, established boundaries for the two conflicting claims. [28] No longer, according to the treaty, would costly Syrian campaigns be waged between the two Near Eastern powers, as a formal renunciation of further hostilities is made.

A second clause promoted alliance by making reassurances of aid, most likely military support, if either party was attacked by a third party or by internal forces of rebellion or insurgency. [29] The other stipulations coincide with Hattušiliš's aims (consult Hittite aims section) in that the Hittite ruler placed great emphasis on establishing legitimacy for his rule. Each country swore to the other to extradite political refugees back to their home country, and in the Hittite version of the treaty, Ramesses II agreed to provide support to Hattušiliš' successors to hold the Hittite throne against dissenters. [29] [30] After the conclusion of the provision detailing the extradition of emigrants to their land of origin, both rulers call upon the respective gods of Hatti and Egypt to bear witness to their agreement. The inclusion of the gods is a common feature in major pieces of international law since only a direct appeal to the gods could provide the proper means to guarantee adherence to the treaty. [31] Their noted ability to bestow curses and blessings to people was a serious penalty that would be imposed in case of a violation.

It is the only ancient Near Eastern treaty for which the versions of both sides have survived, which enables the two to be compared directly. It was structured to be an almost-entirely symmetrically by treating both sides equally and requiring them to undertake mutual obligations. There are a few differences, however for instance, the Hittite version adopts a somewhat evasive preamble, asserting that "as for the relationship between land of Egypt and the Hatti land, since eternity the god does not permit the making of hostility between them because of a treaty valid forever." By contrast, the Egyptian version states straightforwardly that the two states had been at war. [7]

The treaty proclaimed that both sides would forever remain at peace and bound the children and grandchildren of the parties. They would not commit acts of aggression against each other, they would repatriate each other's political refugees and criminals and they would assist each other in suppressing rebellions. Each would come to the other's aid if it was threatened by outsiders: "And if another enemy come [against] the land of Hatti. the great king of Egypt shall send his troops and his chariots and shall slay his enemy and he shall restore confidence to the land of Hatti." [7]

The text concludes with an oath before "a thousand gods, male gods and female gods" of the lands of Egypt and Hatti, witnessed by "the mountains and rivers of the lands of Egypt the sky the earth the great sea the winds the clouds." If the treaty was ever violated, the oath-breaker would be cursed by the gods who "shall destroy his house, his land and his servants." Conversely, if he maintained his vows, he would be rewarded by the gods, who "will cause him to be healthy and to live." [7]

Previous and contemporary Egyptologists have argued over the character of the treaty. Some have interpreted it as a treaty of peace, but others have seen it as a treaty of alliance after a previous conclusion of hostilities. James Breasted in 1906 was one of the first to collect the historical documents of Ancient Egypt in an anthology and understood the treaty to be "not only a treaty of alliance, but also a treaty of peace, and the war [Ramesses's Syrian campaigns] evidently continued until the negotiations for the treaty began". [32] For Breasted, the intermediate periods of conflict were directly resolved by the signing of the treaty and so required it to be one of both alliance and peace. However, later Egyptologists and other scholars began, even within 20 years of Breasted's work, to question whether the treaty between Ramesses II and Hattušiliš III was one of peace at all. Alan Gardiner and his partner Stephen Langdon examined previous interpretations and determined that their predecessors had misinterpreted the line "to beg peace" in the text. The oversight in the language caused Egyptologists to see the treaty incorrectly as terminating a war, instead of seeking a beneficial alliance between Hatti and Egypt. [33] Trevor Bryce further argues that in the Late Bronze Age, treaties were established "for reasons of expediency and self-interest. their concern was much more with establishing strategic alliances than with peace for its own sake". [34] The emerging consensus is that despite the treaty mentioning establishing "brotherhood and peace forever", its main purpose was to form a mutually-beneficial alliance between the two powers.

Another matter of speculation is which of the two countries pursued negotiations first. As has been mentioned, Ramesses II had lost portions of his Syrian territory when he retreated to Egypt after the Battle of Kadesh. In that sense, Hattušiliš would have had the upper hand in the negotiations since Ramesses desired to emulate the military successes of Tuthmosis III. Until the 1920s, Egyptologists had mistaken the insecurity of Egypt's Syrian holdings to mean that Ramesses had come to Hattušiliš to beg for a solution to the Syria problem. American lawyer Donald Magnetti brings up the point that the Pharaoh's duty to bring mortal activity in line with the divine order through the maintenance of maat would have been reason enough for Ramesses II to pursue peace. [35] However, that interpretation is incorrect since the questions about Hattušiliš's legitimacy as monarch would demand recognition by his fellow royals in the Near East. His weak position abroad and domestically, which defined his reign, suggests that it was the Hatti leader who sued for peace. [36] In fact, Trevor Bryce interprets the opening lines of the treaty to be "Ramesses, Beloved of Amon, Great King, King of Egypt, hero, concluded on a tablet of silver with Hattušiliš, Great King, King of Hatti, his brother" to enforce that the incentives of the Hatti ruler had far greater implications that compelled him to sue for peace. [37]

Egypt Edit

Considering his relatively stronger position over Hattušiliš, what did Ramesses hope to achieve by accepting an alliance with his hated Hittite enemies? After 15 years of futile attempts at regaining his lost territory in Syria, scholars argue that Ramesses now realised that his opportunities to match the military achievements of Tuthmosis III were unrealizable. In that light, it became increasingly important for Ramesses to obtain an international victory through diplomacy to bolster his deeds as pharaoh. [38] The attempts at regaining the lands that the Hittites had taken ultimately failed to break the hold of the Hittites over the region. Instead, Ramesses would take his losses as long as the Hittites would recognise the current division of Syria, give Egypt access to ports in the Hittite territory to boost commerce and grant trading access as far north as Ugarit. [39] His ability to advance Egypt's financial and security interests by means other than war led to Ramesses's willingness to pursue friendlier relations with the Hittites.

Maintaining the status quo in the region became a priority for Ramesses because of the emergence of Assyria's military power, whose might was a force to be reckoned with. Thus, Ramesses would have found it desirable to ensure that Assyria would not have a presence in Syria. If the Assyrians were allowed to enter Syria, they would be an arm's length from Egypt itself and pose a threat to Egypt proper. [40] By accepting the Hittite overture of alliance, Ramesses would count on the fact that the newly-made allies would help to safeguard their mutual holdings in Syria against the upstart power of Assyria. [41]

Besides the added incentive of no longer depleting Egypt's finances with expensive wars against Hatti and increasing the security of Egypt's claims in Syria, signing the treaty with Hatti also provided Ramesses the opportunity to brag about his "defeat" of the Hittites. Since Hattušiliš had been the one to approach Ramesses, the pharaoh, in his depictions at the Ramesseum, represents the settlement as one that the Hittite king had asked for in a position of submission. [42] Considering the official language of the treaties then to be completely independent of each other, Ramesses was able to present the terms of the treaty from his perspective. That free control over the depictions of his role by the language of the treaty gave the pharaoh opportunity to present a greatly-idealized point of view. [29] His ability to assert a sense of supremacy as ruler of Egypt and his attempts to portray that strategic alliance as a victory over the Hittites demonstrate the reasons for Ramesses' to be so willing to choose such a mutually-beneficial peace. The conclusion of open hostilities between the regional powers was a personal triumph for the aging pharaoh and, as his monument at Abu Simbel shows, the pharaoh made his subjects well aware of the fact that Ramesses had conquered the Hittites. [43]

Hittite Empire Edit

In opposition to Ramesses's strength in international affairs, Hattušiliš III was disadvantaged by questions of legitimacy that raised doubts about his position as king of the Hittites. Hattušiliš had defeated his nephew, Urhi-Tesub, for the throne in all regards but continued to be seen as a usurper of the kingship. Urhi-Tesub's determination to regain the throne from his uncle caused the Hittite Empire to enter a period of instability both at home and abroad. [44] The nephew had been banished after an unsuccessful coup and ended up in Egypt. Ramesses II thereby posed a direct threat to Hattušiliš's reign by harboring Urhi-Tesub within Egypt's borders. [45] Hattušiliš realised that only an alliance with Ramesses could prevent the monarch from unleashing his nephew back into contention with him for the throne. By concluding a treaty with Egypt, Hattušiliš also hoped that garnering the endorsement of Ramesses of his position as the true king of Hatti would effectively reconcile the disaffected elements in his kingdom that backed Urhi-Tesub as the rightful possessor of the kingship. [46]

In the Near Eastern world, Ramesses wielded great power among the rulers of the day, and formal recognition from him would give Hattušiliš credibility on the international stage.

The threat of his nephew staging another coup against him greatly worried Hattušiliš while he faced a considerable threat from the Assyrians in the east. Hattušiliš's predecessor, the Assyrian king, had taken Hanigalbat, which had been a vassal territory under Hittite control. [47] That aggression strained relations between the two countries, but even more importantly, the Assyrians appeared to put themselves in the position to launch further attacks across the Euphrates River. The perceived threat of Assyrian invasion proved a strong motivator for the Hittites to open up negotiations with Egypt. It was that sense of the Assyrian danger that pushed Hatti into a relationship with Egypt. [48]

Under the terms of the treaty, the Egyptians had to join with their Hatti allies if Assyria invaded Hittite territory. Besides that threat from the east, Hattušiliš recognised the need to strengthen his relationship with his Egyptian neighbours. The competition that had existed between Hatti and Egypt over the Syrian lands no longer served the interests of Hattušiliš. In fact, Trevor Bryce argues that Hattušiliš was satisfied with his current holdings in Syria and that any further expansion of Hittite territory southward was both unjustifiable and undesirable. [42]

After reaching the desired alliance with Hatti, Ramesses could now turn his energies to domestic building projects, such as the completion of his great, rock-hewn Abu Simbel temples. [49] The warming of the relationship between Ramesses and the Hittite king enabled the pharaoh to divert resources from his army to his extensive construction projects. In the 34th year of Ramesses II's reign, there is evidence that in an effort to establish stronger familial bonds with Hatti, the pharaoh married a Hittite princess. [13] Both evidence of the dynastic marriage and the lack of textual evidence of a deterioration of the friendly relationship demonstrate that peaceful dealings between Hatti and Egypt continued for the remainder of Ramesses's reign. [50] By furthering their bonds of friendship through marriage, the Hittites and Egyptians maintained a mutually-beneficial peace that would exist between them until the fall of Hatti to Assyria, nearly a century later. [51]


Ancient history [ edit | edit source ]

Tablet of one of the earliest recorded treaties in history, Treaty of Kadesh, at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.


Probably the earliest recorded peace treaty, although rarely mentioned or remembered, was between the Hittite Empire and the Hayasa-Azzi confederation, circa 1350 BC. More famously, one of the earliest recorded peace treaties was concluded between the Hittite and Egyptian empires after the ca.1274 BC Battle of Kadesh (see Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty). The battle took place in what is modern-day Syria, the entire Levant being at that time contested between the two empires. After an extremely costly four-day battle, in which neither side gained a substantial advantage, both sides claimed victory. The lack of resolution led to further conflict between Egypt and the Hittites, with Ramesses II capturing the city of Kadesh and Amurru in his 8th year as king. Ώ] However, the prospect of further protracted conflict between the two states eventually persuaded both their rulers, Hatusiliš III and Ramesses, to end their dispute and sign a peace treaty. Neither side could afford the possibility of a longer conflict since they were threatened by other enemies: Egypt was faced with the task of defending her long western border with Libya against the incursion of Libyan tribesmen by building a chain of fortresses stretching from Mersa Matruh to Rakotis, while the Hittites faced a more formidable threat in the form of the Assyrian Empire, which "had conquered Hanigalbat, the heartland of Mitanni, between the Tigris and the Euphrates" rivers that had previously been a Hittite vassal state. ΐ]

The peace treaty was recorded in two versions, one in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the other in Akkadian using cuneiform script fortunately, both versions survive. Such dual-language recording is common to many subsequent treaties. This treaty differs from others, however, in that the two language versions are worded differently. Although the majority of the text is identical, the Hittite version claims that the Egyptians came suing for peace, while the Egyptian version claims the reverse. The treaty was given to the Egyptians in the form of a silver plaque, and this "pocket-book" version was taken back to Egypt and carved into the Temple of Karnak.

The Treaty was concluded between Ramesses II and Hatusiliš III in Year 21 of Ramesses' reign Α] (c.1258 BC). Its eighteen articles call for peace between Egypt and Hatti and then proceed to maintain that their respective gods also demand peace. It contains many elements found in more modern treaties, although it is perhaps more far-reaching than later treaties' simple declaration of the end of hostilities. It also contains a mutual-assistance pact in the event that one of the empires should be attacked by a third party, or in the event of internal strife. There are articles pertaining to the forced repatriation of refugees and provisions that they should not be harmed this might be thought of as the first extradition treaty. There are also threats of retribution, should the treaty be broken.

This treaty is considered of such importance in the field of international relations that a reproduction of it hangs in the United Nations headquarters.

Modern history [ edit | edit source ]

Famous examples include the Treaty of Paris (1815), signed after Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the First World War conflict between Germany and the Western Allies. This is held to have ended World War I completely, but in fact that did not happen until the Allies concluded peace with the Ottoman Empire in 1920. The Versailles treaty is possibly the most notorious of peace treaties, in that it is "blamed" by some historians for the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the eventual outbreak of the Second World War. The costly reparations that Germany was forced to pay the victors, the fact that Germany had to accept sole responsibility for starting the war, and the harsh restrictions on German rearmament were all listed in the treaty and caused massive resentment in Germany. Whether the Treaty of Versailles can be blamed for starting another war or not, it shows the difficulties involved in making peace. It might be noted that no such conflict resulted from the more punitive settlement with the Ottomans.

Another famous example would be the series of peace treaties known as the Peace of Westphalia. It initiated modern diplomacy, involving the modern system of nation-states. Subsequent wars were no longer over religion, but rather revolved around issues of state. This allowed Catholic and Protestant powers to ally, leading to a number of major realignments.

The Korean War is an example of a war which was stopped by the Korean Armistice Agreement but never closed with a peace treaty.


The testimonies on Kadesh

By Pentaur's poem on the battle of Kadesh

"His Majesty prepared infantry and his chariots, listened to the prisoners taken in victories of his sword and they delivered the battle plan".

"His Majesty proceeded northward and his infantry and his chariots were behind him. He began a great march. In the fifth year, in the second month, in the third season, in the ninth day, his Majesty bypassed the fortresses of Tharu and Montu and went ahead "..

"Every country trembled before him, the fear was in their hearts, all rebels sagged with fear in front of the her Majesty's fame when his army found itself on a narrow road. And it was as travelling on a big way. "

"Now, many days after that, his Majesty was in Usermare-Meriamon, the city of the cedars".

"His Majesty proceeded northwards and came then to the plateau of Kadesh. Then his Majesty went ahead, as his brother Monthu (God of war) Lord of Thebes, and crossed the river Orontes and was with him before Amon's division called King Usermare Victory-Setepnere ".

"When his Majesty reached the city, seeing that the King of Kheta, the ignoble, the loser, had come, gathered together all countries from the ends up to the sea, the land of Kheta Naharin and Arvad, Mesa, Keshkesh, Kelekesh, Luka, Kezweden, Ekereth, Kode, Carchemish, the whole land of Mesheneth and Nuges, Kadesh".

"He did not leave any country that doesn't bring with it with his bosses, and each man carried his chariot and advancing a multitude. They covered the mountains and valleys, they were like locusts for multitude. He did not leave neither silver nor gold in their hands, but took all the possessions and led each country to battle ".

"The King of Kheta, the ignoble, the won, with numerous allied peoples was stationary in order of battle, concentrated Northwest of the city of Kadesh when his Majesty was only with his personal guard, and Amon's division marched behind him. The Ra's Division crossed the Orontes South of the town of Shabtuna, at a distance of a journey from the Amon's division, the Ptah's one was to the South of the city of Aramanir and the Sutech's division marched down the street".

"The King of Kheta, the ignoble, the won, was in the midst of the infantry who was with him and was not at the battle for fear of his Majesty. He let go the chariots, soldiers a multitude numerous as grains of sand, as there were three men for each span ".

"Then there were each three young a man of Kheta, the loser, equipped with all the weapons from the battlefield. . ".

"His Majesty shone as his brother Monthu when he took his war decorations: when he wore his chainmail was like Baal in his day".

"His Majesty stood still in retreat, then charged at the enemy, the King of Kheta the loser was alone and no one was with him. When her Majesty came to see behind him he found 2,500 chariots surrounding him and all men of the defeated, with its countless allies of Arvad, Mesa, Pedes, Keshkesh, Erwenet, Kezweden, Aleppo, Eketeri, Kadesh and Luka, being close three men in a span".

"The fifth year, the third month of the third period, under the Majesty of Horus, the mighty Bull, loved by the truth, King of upper and lower Egypt Usermare-Setepnere son of Ra, Ramses Merianon, who had life forever".

"I attack all the people while I was alone, my infantry and my chariots had abandoned me. No one was around me. I swear, as Ra loves me, as my brother helps me Aton, as in everything that his Majesty said, I did, actually, in the presence of the infantry and chariots ".


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Comments:

  1. Medwyn

    Completely I share your opinion. In it something is also idea good, I support.

  2. Esra

    no words! just wow! ..

  3. Yozshulkis

    Thank you for the article. Delighted as always

  4. Ozturk

    How will you order to understand?

  5. Millard

    You not the expert, by any chance?



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