Egyptian Warfare > Battle of Kadesh

Battle of Kadesh

Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


The Battle of Kadesh was a decisive battle that was waged between the ancient Egyptians and the Hittites over control over Mesopotamia. The battle primarily took place at the Hittite stronghold of Kadesh.

The Battle of Kadesh was a major military engagement fought between the forces of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under King Muwatalli II, around 1274 BCE. It took place near the city of Kadesh, located in modern-day Syria, and is one of the best-documented battles of antiquity. Here's an overview:

  1. Background: In the late 13th century BCE, the Hittite Empire and the Egyptian New Kingdom were the dominant powers in the eastern Mediterranean region. Both sought to expand their influence and control over the Levant, leading to tensions and occasional conflicts over territory and strategic interests. Kadesh, situated along the Orontes River, was a key city in the region, and control over it was contested between the Hittites and the Egyptians.

  2. Preparation: Pharaoh Ramesses II of Egypt launched a military campaign to retake control of the city of Kadesh and secure Egypt's borders in the Levant. He amassed a large army, consisting of infantry, chariots, and auxiliary troops, and marched northward from Egypt toward the city. Ramesses divided his forces into four divisions, with the main force led by himself and his royal guard.

  3. Hittite Ambush: Unbeknownst to Ramesses II, the Hittite king Muwatalli II had deployed a sizable army near Kadesh, lying in wait to ambush the Egyptian forces. The Hittites surprised the Egyptian army by launching a sudden attack, catching them off guard and disrupting their formation.

  4. The Battle: The Battle of Kadesh was a chaotic and fiercely contested engagement, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. The Hittite chariots and infantry engaged the Egyptian forces in brutal hand-to-hand combat, while Egyptian archers and charioteers fought back with arrows and spears. The battle raged for hours, with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.

  5. Egyptian Counterattack: Despite the initial setback, Ramesses II rallied his troops and launched a counterattack against the Hittite forces. He personally led his elite royal guard into battle, fighting bravely alongside his soldiers and driving back the Hittite attackers. The Egyptian chariots played a crucial role in breaking through the Hittite lines and turning the tide of the battle.

  6. Outcome: The Battle of Kadesh ended inconclusively, with neither side achieving a clear victory. Although Ramesses II claimed a triumph in his inscriptions and depicted the battle as a great victory, the Hittites were able to maintain control of Kadesh and prevent the Egyptians from achieving their strategic objectives. Both sides suffered significant losses, and the battle ultimately led to the negotiation of a peace treaty between Egypt and the Hittite Empire.

  7. Legacy: The Battle of Kadesh is significant for several reasons. It is one of the earliest battles in history for which detailed accounts and records have survived, providing valuable insights into ancient military tactics and strategies. The battle also demonstrated the importance of chariot warfare and the use of combined arms tactics in ancient warfare. Additionally, the peace treaty negotiated between Egypt and the Hittites after the battle, known as the Treaty of Kadesh, is one of the earliest known peace treaties in recorded history.

In summary, the Battle of Kadesh was a pivotal military engagement between the forces of Ramesses II of Egypt and Muwatalli II of the Hittite Empire, fought near the city of Kadesh in 1274 BCE. It was a fierce and inconclusive battle that ultimately led to a negotiated peace settlement between the two great powers of the ancient Near East.


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Secondary Sources

Youtube: The Battle of Kadesh

Egypt Warfare

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