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6.2.9 The Eternal Peace Treaty — The Hittite Copy

In the decades after the battle, when new threats had appeared, the Egyptians and Hittites negotiated a peace treaty, one of the oldest in existence. By the fifteenth century BCE, there were several states in the land in and around Mesopotamia, and the Egyptians were moving to claim Canaan, Palestine, and Syria. Competition was so intense among these warring states that they invented new forms of contact, diplomacy, and negotiation. The tone of this source is much more respectful, probably because neither the Hittites nor the Egyptians won a decisive victory at Qadesh.

Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II
13th century BCE
Book

Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and Hittite King Hattusilis. “Treaty between Ramesses II of Egypt and Hattusilis III of Hatti,” Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed., edited by James B. Pritchard, translated by John A. Wilson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 199 – 201. Text modernized by Shennan Hutton.

Although the Egyptian source (Source 8) claims that their side won the Battle of Qadesh, historians think that neither side won a clear victory. This gave them a reason to talk instead of fight. The two kings or their representatives negotiated a peace treaty. “Negotiated” means that they talked and argued with each other about the needs of each state. They made agreements and then wrote it down in a “treaty. ” This treaty was between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and Hittite King Hattusilis III and signed about 1259 BCE. This is the Hittite copy of the treaty, but there is also an Egyptian copy. Why do you think that the kings were so respectful to each other? What agreements are in this treaty?

Vocabulary

Rea-mashesha mai Amana: another name for Ramses II

ordinance: law

Sun-god: Ra, an important Egyptian god

Storm-god: an important Hittite god

In the decades after the battle, when new threats had appeared, the Egyptians and Hittites negotiated a peace treaty, one of the oldest in existence. By the fifteenth century BCE, there were several states in the land in and around Mesopotamia, and the Egyptians were moving to claim Canaan, Palestine, and Syria. Competition was so intense among these warring states that they invented new forms of contact, diplomacy, and negotiation. The tone of this source is much more respectful, probably because neither the Hittites nor the Egyptians won a decisive victory at Qadesh. Treating each other with respect is a critical part of a treaty, because the people on both sides will read it. This source and its Egyptian counterpart are the evidence historians use to doubt that the Egyptians won the crushing victory described in Source 8. Students should understand that a peace treaty is a different type of source from Source 8. Also, the audience was both Hittite and Egyptian, whereas the audience for Source 8 was Egyptian.

These are the words of Rea-mashesha mai Amana, the great king of the land of Egypt, the brave one of all lands… spoken to Hattusilis, the great king, the king of the Hatti land, the brave one.… Now I have established good brotherhood and good peace between us forever.

Rea-mashesha mai Amana, the great king, the king of the land of Egypt, shall not trespass into the Hatti land to take anything from it in the future. And Hattusilis, the great king, the king of the Hatti land, shall not trespass into the land of Egypt to take anything from it in the future.

Behold, the holy ordinance valid forever which the Sun-god and the Storm-god had brought about for the land of Egypt with the Hatti land calls for peace and brotherhood so not to make war between them…. Behold, the land of Egypt with the Hatti land – they are at peace and brothers forever.