The Battle of Kadesh (Ramses, Book 3)

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Let us know. There was a day of carnage as some 5, chariots charged into the fray, but no outright victor. Resolved to pursue the expansionist policy introduced by his father, Seti I , Ramses invaded Hittite territories in Palestine and pushed on into Syria. Near the Orontes River, his soldiers captured two men who said they were deserters from the Hittite force, which now lay some way off, outside Aleppo.

This was reassuring, since the impetuous pharaoh had pushed well ahead of his main army with an advance guard of 20, infantry and 2, chariots.

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Unfortunately, the "deserters" were loyal agents of his enemy. Led by their High Prince, Muwatallis, the Hittites were at hand—with 40, foot soldiers and 3, chariots—and swiftly attacked. Their heavy, three-horse chariots smashed into the Egyptian vanguard, scattering its lighter chariots and the ranks behind. An easy victory seemed assured, and the Hittites dropped their guard and set about plundering their fallen enemy.

Calm and determined, Ramses quickly remarshalled his men and launched a counterattack. With their shock advantage gone, the Hittite chariots seemed slow and ungainly; the lighter Egyptian vehicles outmaneuvered them with ease. Ramses, bold and decisive, managed to pluck from the jaws of defeat if not victory, then at least an honorable draw. Both sides claimed Kadesh as a triumph, and Ramses had his temples festooned with celebratory reliefs.

In truth, the outcome was inconclusive.

Ramses: The Battle of Kadesh - Volume III

However, the Bedouin had in fact tricked Ramesses, as the Hittites were already at Kadesh. The pharaoh was then attacked by this much larger force, equipped with many chariots. He avoided catastrophe because the main Egyptian army relieved him, and losses were heavy on both sides. The Egyptians eventually retreated without capturing their strategic objectives.

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Of course, the discovery of this archive does not mean that the hunt for evidence is over. It may well hide further texts. Furthermore, the diversity of sources, spanning Egyptian, Hittite and Akkadian and coming from both Egypt and Anatolia, means that another piece of the jigsaw might still emerge in the field or in some long-forgotten museum basement. The search must go on.

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Nonetheless, by comparing the Hattusa letters with the Ramesses-sanctioned Poem and Official Record, we already get a remarkable insight into royal propaganda. The narrative designed for internal consumption was fiction moulded around a kernel of fact: the pharaoh was indeed cut off from his army, he did face a chariot onslaught while outnumbered, and he did inflict casualties.

He lost, but so what? As politics continues to show, even dubious achievements can become triumphs after sufficient amplification and trumpeting. Archaeology blogposts. Reuse this content.

Robert Ritner & Theo van den Hout - The Battle of Kadesh: A Debate

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Diverging Accounts within the Kadesh Inscriptions of Ramesses II - Oxford Scholarship

Ramses 3: the Battle of Kadesh. Description To save Egypt from the Hittites, Ramses II must face the might of a powerful army whose weapons are vastly superior to Egypt's own. War seems inevitable, and it is at the impenetrable fortress of Kadesh that the first major battle is to take place. But the health of his beloved wife, Nefertari, is failing rapidly and a pro-Hittite underground network continues to grow.

Ramses needs to travel South in search of the Stone Goddess -- the last hope to save his dying Queen -- but the imminent battle to save his entire civilization is to the North. Will Ramses father, now a celestial god, answer his desperate pleas for guidance? The third volume in a five book series.

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