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The Battle of Kadesh

The account of the Battle of Kadesh comes from many sources - The GreatTemple at Luxor, the Ramesseum at Thebes, the Great Temple at Abydos, from the Great Temple at Abu Simbel, The Great Temple at Karnak (some versions also survive on papyrus). It also consists of two verions - The Bulletin, and the (longer and fuller) Poem.

 

The Bulletin

(1) Year 5, third month of summer, day 9, under the majesty of Re-Harakhti: The Strong-Bull-beloved-of-Maat; the King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Usermare-sotpenre; the Son of Re: Ramesse, Beloved of Amun, given life eternally. Now his majesty was in Djahi on his second campaign of victory. A good awakening in life, prosperity, and health in the tent of his majesty in the hill country south of Kadesh. Thereafter, in the morning, his majesty appeared like the rising of Re, clad in the panoply of his father Mont. The Lord proceeded northward and arrived in the region south of the town of Shabtuna. Then came two Shosu of the tribes of Shosu to say to his majesty: "Our brothers who are chiefs of tribes with the Foe from Khatti have sent us to his majesty to say that we will be servants of Pharaoh and will abandon the Chief of Khatti." His majesty said to them: "Where are they, your brothers who sent you to tell this matter to his majesty?" They said to his majesty "They are where the vile Chief of Khatti is; for the Foe from Khatti is in the land of Khaleb to the north of Tunip. He was too fearful of Pharaoh to come southward when he heard that Pharaoh had come northward."

The Camp of Ramesses II

 

The two brothers beaten by Egyptian Officers

Now the two Shosu who said these words to his majesty said them falsely, for it was the Foe from Khatti who had sent them to observe where his majesty was, in order to prevent his majesty's army from making ready to fight with the Foe from Khatti. For the Foe from Khatti had come with his infantry and his chariotry, and with the chiefs of every land that was in the territory of the land of Khatti, and their infantry and their chariotry, whom he had brought with him as allies to fight against the army of his majesty, he standing equipped and ready behind Kadesh the Old, and his majesty did not know that they were there.

When the two Shosu who were in the Presence had been [released], his majesty proceeded northward and reached the north-west of Kadesh. The camp of his majesty's army was pitched there, and his majesty took his seat on a throne of fine gold to the north of Kadesh on the west side of the Orontes. Then came a scout who was in his majesty's retinue bringing two scouts of the Foe from Khatti. When they had been brought into the Presence, his majesty said to them: "What are you?" They said: "We belong to the Chief of Khatti. It is he who sent us to observe where his majesty is." His majesty said to them: "Where is he, the Foe from Khatti? I have heard he is in the land of Khaleb to the north of Tunip."

They said to his majesty: "Look, the vile Chief of Khatti has come together with the many countries who are with him, whom he has brought with him as allies, the land of Dardany, the land of Nahrin, that of Keshkesh, those of Masa, those of Pidasa, the land of Karkisha and Luka, the land of Carchemish, the land of Arzawa, the land of Ugarit, that of Irun, the land of Inesa, Mushanet, Kadesh, Khaleb, and the entire land of Kedy. They are equipped with their infantry and their chariotry, and with their weapons of war. They are more numerous than the sands of the shores. Look, they stand equipped and ready to fight behind Kadesh the Old."

Thereupon his majesty summoned the leaders into the Presence, to let them hear all the words which the two scouts of the Foe from Khatti who were in the Presence had spoken. Then his majesty said to them: "Observe the situation in which the governors of foreign countries and the chiefs of the lands of Pharaoh are. Every day they stood up to tell Pharaoh: 'The vile Chief of Khatti is in the land of Khaleb north of Tunip, having fled before his majesty when he heard that Pharaoh had come.' So they said daily to his majesty. But now, this very moment, I have heard from these two scouts of the Foe from Khatti that the vile Foe from Khatti has come with the many countries that are with him men and horses as numerous as the sand. Look, they stand concealed behind Kadesh the Old, while my governors of foreign countries and my chiefs of the land of Pharaoh were unable to tell us that they had come."

Then spoke the chiefs who were in the Presence in answer to the Good [God]: "It is a great crime that the governors of foreign countries and the chiefs of Pharaoh have committed in failing to discover for themselves the Foe from Khatti wherever he was, and to report him to Pharaoh daily." Then the vizier was commanded to hasten the army of Pharaoh as it marched on the way to the south of the town of Shabtuna, so as to bring it to where his majesty was.

Now while his majesty sat speaking with the chiefs, the vile Foe from Khatti came with his infantry and his chariotry and the many countries that were with him. Crossing the ford to the south of Kadesh they charged into his majesty's army as it marched unaware. Then the infantry and chariotry of his majesty weakened before them on their way northward to where his majesty was. Thereupon the forces of the Foe from Khatti surrounded the followers of his majesty who were by his side. When his majesty caught sight of them he rose quickly, enraged at them like his father Mont. Taking up weapons and donning his armour he was like Seth in the moment of his power. He mounted 'Victory-in-Thebes,' his great horse, and started out quickly alone by himself. His majesty was mighty, his heart stout. one could not stand before him.

All his ground was ablaze with fire; he burned all the countries with his blast. His eyes were savage as he beheld them; his power flared like fire against them. He heeded not the foreign multitude; he regarded them as chaff. His majesty charged into the force of the Foe from Khatti and the many countries with him. His majesty was like Seth, great-of-strength, like Sakhmet in the moment of her rage. His majesty slew the entire force of the Foe from Khatti, together with his great chiefs and all his brothers, as well as all the chiefs of all the countries that had come with him, their infantry and their chariotry falling on their faces one upon the other. His majesty slaughtered them in their places; they sprawled before his horses; and his majesty was alone, none other with him.

My majesty caused the forces of the foes from Khatti to fall on their faces, one upon the other, as crocodiles fall, into the water of the Orontes. I was after them like a griffin; I attacked all the countries, I alone. For my infantry and my chariotry had deserted me; not one of them stood looking back. As I live, as Re loves me, as my father Atum favors me, everything that my majesty has told I did it in truth, in the presence of my infantry and my chariotry.'

Ramesses II slaying the Asiatics before Ra

 

Click here for longer account of the Battle :The Poem