THE REAL-WORLD WAR I
By Nael Noaman
We in life-explained history have taken the subjects of Sumer, Akkad, Persia and Assyria, simply because there are several references unlike the Hittites whom did not have a lot to write thus kept us in the dark about a lot of the details. Yet in the great battle of Qadesh because they were fighting the Egyptians we were told about the details of that battle by the Egyptians with a few details from the Hittites.
To start we should have a quick look at the location of the Hittites and this map tells us what the world was like.
So, their empire was in Anatolia and was surrounded by the Egyptians and the Mitanni which kept them always on the alert in case one of these powers would cut them off in Syria which would mean that they will be stuck in the Northern mountains with no commercial routes.I chose a 14th century map because it was the start of the Hittites golden or Imperial age which lasted until 1200 B.C when they were conquered by the Assyrians
At the end of the Amarna period in Egypt 18th dynasty, the Hittites, Mitanni and Egyptians fought for supremacy in the territory of today's Syria because it controlled the commerce routes and the way to Mesopotamia (much like the reasons of today's war) but the Hittites and Egyptians managed to settle and wrote a treaty of peace in the 15th century BC, called the Kurustama Treaty a sort of border agreement and including a non-aggression pact, and that treaty stood for over a 100 years until something happened. It was in the reign of king Suppiluliumas I ( 1375-1345 BCE ) of the Hittites while recapturing the city of Carchemish ( as seen on the map) when he ordered 2 of his officers and ordered the attack on Amka which was under Egyptian rule thus breaking the divine oath. May be it is best to read it from king Mursilis II ( 1315 - 1282 BCE ) son of king Suppiluliumas I as found on the tablets which firstly shows why the oath was divine.
And then he tells us what happened in Carchemish or Girgamish.
Now the treaty has been broken by the Hittites and the word reached Egypt, but something really strange happened after that, we continue with King Mursilli.
The king was suspicious and rightly so after invading Egyptian territory and the Pharaoh was dead, why should he believe the Egyptian Queen, so King Mursilli continues
The report came back later on in Spring and was a positive one, so he sent his son Zannanza to Egypt, he then continues;
The plague killed a lot of Hittites and among them was the king himself and there after Mursilli reign starts and the first thing he does was apologize to the gods of Hitti, and he prayed like this
Tings started changing after the death of king Mursilli were his son Muwattalli became king and at the same time the 19th dynasty of Egypt has started too Ramses I and later Sati I whom tried to bring Syria back to Egypt rule, and the first clash started with the Hittites which went very badly for the new King Muwattalli, so he decided to move his capital south away from the original capital Hattusa.
As we are drawing near the main battle of Qadesh and it is worth mentioning that the Egyptians never had ideas of colonizing or increasing the size of Egypt unlike the Mesopotamians, they simply cared about their economy since all their lumber comes from Lebanon, the commercial routes with the east and to create a buffer zone preventing other empires from invading them since by that time they just got rid of the Hycsos and they do not want that to happen again.
In May of 1274 B.C ,Ramses II marched to Qadesh with 20,000 soldiers and 2000 chariots, he divided his force into 4 divisions namely, Ra, Seth, Amon and Ptah, they also sent a division called Nearin of the Moabites through the sea which the Hittites knew nothing about and finally the Amurru sent their army with him.
King Muwattalli camped just outside Qadesh with 39,500 soldiers and 2,500 chariots almost double the Egyptian army, and it is fair to say for that time this was a world war by all measures.
During Ramses march 2 Bedouins came along to tell the Egyptian king that the Hittites are all the way North in Aleppo, of course that was a trick to allow the Hittites take them by surprise and not to push the 3 divisions that were replenishing in the South to move faster so he had only the Amon division with him at the time, it is only by luck when 2 Hittite scouts were captured that Ramses knew that the Hittites were only across the hill, and the Hittites seizing the opportunity by cutting the Ra division in half as they were caught by surprise and the Hittite chariots went fast towards the Egyptian camp and the Egyptian King found himself in a situation to fight or die.
Especially when the Amon division was totally out of the battle either fled or killed not clear from historical text, but it was the Nearin force that showed up catching the Hittites by surprise pushing them back to their camp, but on their way back they faced the division of Ptah which meant that they were surrounded from North and South, and that how the battle of Qadesh ended with a great victory for Rameses II, yet he did not capture Kadesh and that is why the historians call it a draw. It will be many year before Ramses II comes back to the region and proclaim the Hittite cities of Dapur and Tunip