Section II Egypt’s expedition to Hittites and the war of hegemony in West Asia
from the end of the 14th century BC to the middle of the 13th century BC, ancient Egypt and Hittites launched a war for decades to compete for control of the Syrian region. The battle of kadeshi, a key battle in this war, is one of the earliest documented battles in ancient military history. The peace treaty concluded after the war is the earliest documented international military treaty in history.
the ancient Syrian region is located at the intersection of three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. It is the ancient sea and land caravan trade hub and has always been a place for great powers to compete. As early as the 30th century BC, Egypt launched many wars of Conquest against Syria, trying to establish and consolidate its hegemony in Syria. However, Egypt’s efforts to establish hegemony have encountered a strong challenge from Egypt’s strong neighbor Hittite. In the 14th century BC, when Egypt was busy with religious reform, the Hittites rose rapidly. Under the leadership of its brilliant king supiluliumas, they actively pushed forward to Syria, gradually controlled the whole Syrian region as far south as Damascus, and dealt a heavy blow to Egypt’s vested interests in this region.
in about 1290 BC, Pharaoh Ramesses II of the 19th Dynasty of Egypt ascended the throne (about 1290-1224 BC), determined to regroup, compete with Hittites and restore Egypt’s ruling position in Syria. To this end, Ramses has strengthened his army and prepared for the war, and formed the putah Legion. Together with the original Amun legion, Lai Legion and Sete legion, together with mercenaries composed of Nubians and sardans, Ramses has a total of four legions and more than 20000 troops. In 1286 BC, Egypt first sent troops to occupy Berit and biblus in southern Syria. At the end of April of the following year, Ramses II marched in person, led four legions from Jialu fortress in the east of the Delta, headed north along the ridani River Valley and Orent River Valley, marched for nearly one month, entered the kadieshi area, camped in the highland about 18 miles south of kadieshi, and located in the kadieshi on the West Bank of the upper reaches of Orent river. The river was fast, the cliffs stood and the terrain was dangerous, It is not only the throat connecting north and South Syria, but also an important military town and strategic place for the Hittite army. The Egyptian army tried to conquer kadeshi first, control the throat of northward advance, and then push northward to restore its rule over the whole of Syria. Therefore, the two sides opened the prelude to the war in the kekadieshi area.
just as Egypt raises troops to the north, an intense war preparation activity is also in full swing in Hittite. Hittite received information before Ramses II set out. Muwattar, king of the Hittites, urgently convened a royal meeting and formulated a battle plan focusing on the kadiei stone, guarding the key points, waiting for work with ease, luring the enemy in depth and crushing the attempt of the Egyptian army to advance north. To this end, heti gathered more than 20000 troops, including 2500 ~ 3500 double horse chariots (each chariot is equipped with one driver and two soldiers), and concealed them inside and outside the kadieshi castle. It is intended to lure the enemy into the ambush circle and annihilate it in one fell swoop.
Ramses II led his troops to camp in the highland near kadieshi. In the early morning of the next day, he commanded the main force to attack kadieshi and wanted to capture the fort before dusk. Ramses II led the Amun Legion to charge ahead, followed by Lai Legion and putah Legion. The Sete Legion remained in the amulu area due to its slow action, so it was difficult to reach the battlefield for the time being. When the Amun Legion entered the sabtuna ferry 8 miles south of kadeshi, they caught two “deserters” of the Hittite army. These two Bedouin nomads, who were actually the “dead room” of the Hittite, lied that the main force of the Hittite was still far away in halpa, a hundred miles north of kadeshi, and pretended that the morale of the kadeshi garrison was low, the strength was weak, and they were afraid of the Egyptian army, In particular, the Syrian princes have long intended to submit to Egypt. Ramesses II believed it and immediately commanded the Amun Legion to cross the Orent River from sabtuna ferry and go deep alone to the foot of kadieshi city. Upon hearing the news, muwattar secretly transferred the main force of heti to the East Bank of Orent River to form an encirclement circle and surround the Egyptian army.
Ramses II knew his plan from the Hittite prisoners just captured, and immediately sent urgent envoys to urge Lai corps and putah corps to come to help urgently. When Lai’s regiment arrived in the jungle south of kadeshi, the Hittite chariots that had been ambushed here unexpectedly attacked its flank, and Lai’s regiment suffered heavy losses. Then, the Hittite army launched a fierce attack on the Egyptian Amun legion with 2500 chariots. The Egyptian soldiers collapsed and fled in all directions. Ramses II, who was trapped in the siege, ran from left to right under the cover of the bodyguard and fought hard. At this critical moment, when the Egyptian army went on an expedition to the north, a force left in the south of amu road arrived, suddenly appeared behind the Hittite army, attacked the Hittite army, and rescued Ramses II from the crisis. The Egyptian army launched six charges in a row and drove a large number of Hezbollah chariots into the river. The king of the Hittites also sent more chariots into the battlefield, stormed the Egyptian Chinese army, and ordered 8000 fortress defenders to launch a short attack to cooperate. The battle was very fierce. At dusk, the leading troops of the Egyptian putah Corps arrived and joined the battle. At night, the Hittite army retreated to the fortress, and the battle ended. The two sides were evenly matched, and the victory and defeat were not divided.
in the following 16 years, the war continued, but the scale was relatively small. Ramesses II learned from the lesson of neglecting the enemy’s rash advance in the battle of kadeshi, changed to the steady advance strategy, and crossed back to the Orent River, but hetti adopted the strategy of guarding the castle and avoiding the battle, and both sides failed to achieve a decisive victory.
the long-term war consumption makes both sides unable to fight again. In about 1269 BC, hatushir, the Hittite king who succeeded his brother muwattar (reigned from about 1275 to 1250 BC), proposed that the two sides conclude a peace treaty with the consent of Ramses II. Hatushir sent the peace draft written on the silver plate to Egypt, and Ramses II drew up his own draft on this basis and sent it to the king of Hittite. The treaty stipulates: “the two sides will achieve permanent peace, never be hostile, always maintain good peace and good brotherly relations, and implement military mutual assistance, to jointly defend against any invading enemy, both parties undertake not to accept each other’s fugitives and have the obligation to extradite them. ” After the signing of the
treaties, the Hittite king married Ramesses II with his eldest daughter. Through political marriage, the alliance between the two sides was further consolidated. The hegemony war between Egypt and Hittite was an important event in the history of the ancient middle and Near East.
Ramesses II was the last powerful Pharaoh of the ancient Egyptian military Empire, and the Hittite was also in its heyday at that time. The decades long military contest between the two sides has seriously weakened the strength of both sides. Egypt has not achieved the goal of restoring Asian territories, and the successors of Ramses II are increasingly facing difficulties at home and abroad. The migration wave of “sea people” swept from Asia Minor in the Aegean Sea echoed the invasion of Libyan tribes, increasingly shook the rule of pharaohs, and the once powerful new kingdom gradually fell into disintegration.
Hittites once dominated Western Asia, although they occupied most of Syria. However, after the war with Egypt, the already unstable economic foundation was further shaken and soon began to decline. By the end of the 13th century BC, the “maritime nation” invaded Hittite from the Bosporus Strait. The subordinate countries of Asia Minor and Syria resisted one after another. The Hittite country collapsed rapidly. By the 8th century BC, it was completely destroyed by Assyria.
influence ` evaluation of the war of
which lasted for half a century was recognized as “the end of the Egyptian empire” by the historians. The long war of Ramesses II failed to restore the huge territory of Egypt during the 18th dynasty of Thutmosis III. At the same time of the war, Ramses II built many buildings. However, the architecture in the later period of his rule decreased significantly both in scale and skill, which is the concrete embodiment of the serious recession of the domestic economy. After Ramses II, the Egyptian empire went from bad to worse and soon fell into a situation of internal and external difficulties. This also laid the groundwork for Egypt to be usurped by foreigners in the later stage, to be in a state of exhaustion and difficult to extricate itself, and finally to perish.