Did Ramesses defeat the Hittites at Kadesh?

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
Would this not be "tactical defeat" and "strategic stalemate" (I know I'm nitpicking), since tactical is the term for actual battles and strategic refers to the overall theatre. :) And Kadesh really was a defeat for Ramses, nothing disastrous but certainly humiliating in light of his propaganda. Both sides however weren't going to push through after that.
Your right, yet again.
 

Satuf

Ad Honorem
Nov 2009
3,471
Nebraska
This is incorrect and the matter is much more complicated. A good book on the matter of war and peace is: "K. Raaflaub, War and Peace in the Ancient World" (I might look up the exact nature of Egyptian and Hittite for that matter, peacemaking at a later time - cause I have this book so I can look it up for you :))
I'm all open to change my views.

My statement, that Egyptians invented the peace treaty idea, was really from an Egyptian history text book back when I used to live and study in Egypt.
 

gaius valerius

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Belgium
Here it comes :) though not the first peace treaty by default, it is labeled as 'the first peace treaty between "superpowers"' (chapter title reads "Conflict and Reconciliation in the Ancient Middle East: The Clash of Egyptian and Hittite Chariots in Syria, and the World's First Peace Treaty between 'Superpowers' "), so you might have been thinking of that.

The importance of the treaty apart from its content is of course situated in that it has survived in records on both sides, allowing crossreference for the content to further legitimise it (not the originals, these were in silver... you can guess what happened to those). The treaty between Egypt and Hatti (as we refer to the Hittite state) was a 'parity treaty', in other words: an agreement between 'acknowledged equals' (which is quite an important note, peace between equals is/was not the norm, the Greeks for example attached legal reciprocity to their concept of eire while the the Romans formulated their concepts in terms of victors and submissive suppliants, in short each culture/civilisation had its own approach with important consequences of course for how these states behaved on the international scene). In format this parity treaty is very similar to the overall Hittite layout of treaties, consisting of a preamble, historical introduction, specific provisions/stipulations, details of deposition of copies, list of divine witnesses & curses and blessings.

The obligations in this treaty were the following: tge reaffirmation of former treaties, the mutual renunciation of aggression, a mutual defense pact, the guarantee of succession to the throne of the designated Hittite ruler and the extradition of fugitives. The agreement furthermore acknowledged the territorial status quo, leaving Kadesh & Amurru in Hittite hands, in other words: the border remained the same as in the days of Suppiluliuma. The whole tone of the treaty is about mutual and lasting peace, oaths were sworn by rulers which were binding for all their heirs and descendants down the ages, etc. As a sidenote, the Egyptians couldn't resist to include in their hieroglyphic version of the text of the agreement the line at the beginning recounting as to how it Hattusili (the Hatti king at that moment) who had sued for peace :lol:. The pact was re-affirmed a few times and sealed with royal marriages. The treaty as you probably know remained in effect untill Hatti fell.

This treaty is historically quite significant for this region, especially taking into account the Egyptian attitude towards the outside world to which I have not referred yet but this might be a good time to do so, for it certainly helps furthering our understanding as to why this treaty was quite remarkable.

Egyptian attitudes towards the outside world reveal very specific cultural assumptions. Egypt was quite self-centered so to say, and they had all reason to be: it was a wealthy island in the midst of hostile and unforgiving conditions. The fertile Nile was flanked by desert and inhospitable lands on all sides. The king of Egypt was a living god, son of human woman but the heir of a divine father (a notion that for the record - though this does not matter that much here - evolved in time). This hybrid nature made him the intermediairy between the gods and mankind. Egypt was the veritable centre of the universe and the Egyptians themselves were the true chosen people of the gods, yes, the only true humans. Their culture, summarised in the abstract concept of ma'at ("truth, justice, righteousness, correct behaviour, divinely ordained cosmic order") was the only thing seperating them from their barbaric neighbours. One of the primary duties of the king was to defend this holy bastion from outside invaders. He was a warrior that struck down the foes of the chosen people, he was a mighty hunter and heroic warrior (as his depictions always go), he 'perpetuated the warlike deeds of the god who had harnessed or repelled the formless and all-encompassing waters of chaos to create the island oasis of Egypt at the beginning of time'. It took many centuries before this attitude was formally challenged as Egypt began to expand into western Asia and discovered empires that were far beyond the fledgling tribal societies that lived on its borders, empires that were more then capable of challenging the heroic warrior. In the end it took a long time for Egypt and Hatti to come to terms and to acknowledge each other as equals and on that basis conclude a formal peace, as the author says 'in the human condition, making war seems to be too easy; peacemaking is much more difficult'. It took the Egyptians to broaden their definition of what a 'human' is before they could reconciliate themselves with Hatti by conceding that at least some foreigners were basically human (though foreigners would culturally continued to be blamed for all hardships that befell them)?
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
It is interesting that I was taught all the way through school, up until college, that Ramesses defeated the Hittites. Or it was at least alluded to. I'm sure we have a thread in the archives discussing the untruths taught in school.
 
Nov 2010
7,890
Border of GA and AL
From what I've read the Battle of Kadesh was a tactical victory for Ramesses, but a strategic victory for the Hittites.

Ramesses may have driven the enemy from the field, but the expansion of Egypt northwards was stopped there.
 

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
From what I've read the Battle of Kadesh was a tactical victory for Ramesses, but a strategic victory for the Hittites.

Ramesses may have driven the enemy from the field, but the expansion of Egypt northwards was stopped there.
It was more of a tactical stalemate than a victory.
 

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
Exactly how? :confused:
The Egyptians were ambushed and were nearly routed but Ramses managed to push the Hittites back. However, he did not rout the Hittites' forces.

I'd say that this is pretty much a stalemate.
 
Nov 2010
7,890
Border of GA and AL
The Egyptians were ambushed and were nearly routed but Ramses managed to push the Hittites back. However, he did not rout the Hittites' forces.

I'd say that this is pretty much a stalemate.
Ah, I see. Thanks. :)
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Is it true that the Egyptians called the Hittites hmty, meaning "Woman Warriors" on account of their tendency to wear long hair?