The Hittites – enemies of Egypt

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The Hittites were an Indo-European nation that lived on rough plains of middle Anatolia since 18th century BC and their capital was Hattusa. They founded a powerful empire, which fought with then salient civilizations – Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt.

The Hittite King was an absolute ruler, but council of elder helped him with ruling, which had rather big competences. The King was considered as a representative of God on the Earth, so he had to take part in all religious ceremonies to prove his purity. The ruling class was made by aristocracy and priesthood. The plebeian class divided into free people, who mostly worked for the palace, the temples or great aristocratic mansions, and slaves from campaigns.

The Hittites and the Egyptians 

The Egyptians collided the Hittites under Thutmose III. rule and the tension grew gradually under Thutmose IV, Amenhotep IV, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II rule. But because of political and military reasons there were no direct conflict. The war seemed to come soon, because both landes were interested in the same territory. Finally their fights were restricted to short conflicts and attempts of incursion.

Thutmose III. and Hittites 

Thutmose III. decided to attack Mitanni and suppress the increasing influence of the Asians. He needed seventeen campaigns in all for this, but he left a scene of devastation in this territory and raised so much fear that the Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite tribes started to pay him tributes hoping that they were buying several years of peace this way.

The Pharaoh systematically suppressed every attempt of rebellion in Mitanni for one year. Then Egypt controlled an extensive territory eight years later and its expansion ended only when the three cities near Kadesh were conquered, which was a traditional cradle of Asian rulers rebellions. So a relative political balance was settled in the end in this area.

Thutmose IV. and Hittites

But the international relationships got worse again under Thutmose IV rule. The Kingdom of Mitanni decided suprisingly to form an alliance with Egypt because of the fear of the Hittites, who began to threaten the Mitanni frontiers. Thutmose IV even proposed the Mitanni King's daughter after the first agreement of conquered territories exchange (Egypt gained Palestina and returned the northern Syria to Mitanni). The Hittites were so surprised by this alliance that they rather gave up all martial activities in this area. The other reason was their fight with the inhabitants of Anatolia, who tried to intrude into their territory from the north.

Amenhotep IV. and Hittites

The threat of the was appeared again under Amenhotep IV – Akhenaten rule. The ruler of Amorites (a nation that was settled in the area of today's Lebanon) joined the Hittites, because he hoped that he would be able to break free from the Egyptian yoke. The new Hittite ruler Suppiluliuma pacified the Anatolia and attacked the northern Syria. But Egypt didn't help Mitanni and it embarrassed both Mitanni and the Egyptian rulers of border areas. They were afraid of an incursion, but the Pharaoh was blind to it.

Egypt wasn't successful in conquest of Kadesh around 1,328 BC. It might be during one of these campaigns the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun died. Her young wife suggested to the Hittite King to marry his son to calm the situation. The king agreed with marriage, but his son had never come to Egypt - he might be murdered. The war threatened more and more, but the hostility was averted for some time.

Ramesses II. and Hittites

The conflict broke up to Ramesses II rule, when he entered the territory of the Amorites and decided to reach the northern Syria and fight with the Hittites in front of Kadesh gates. Although Ramesses described the battle result as his crushing victory the territory of the Amorites fetched up in the Hittite influence again.

A fight for power broke in the Hittite Empire after death of Muwatalli, who led the Hittite troops against Ramesses in the battle of Kadesh. Finally Muwatalli's brother Hattusili III came to the throne, after he forced his nephew Urhi-Teshup out of the land, who usurped the throne. Hattusili III. and Ramesses II. signed then the first peace treaty in human's history in 1,280 BC. Friendly relationships of both lands lasted for many years, but the power of another land - Assyria - was growing inconspicuously in the meantime.


Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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