Ramesses II. signed the eldest peace treaty

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The battle of Kadesh didn't bring a radical break in relationship between Egypt and the Hittite Empire and the situation had to be stabilized in another way. Ramesses II. and the Hittite king Hattusili III. signed the first international agreement in mankind history. It was in the 11th year of Ramesses II reign, so 6 years after the battle of Kadesh. It was undoubtedly a distinctive diplomatic success, but a row of very favourable circumstances preceded to it.

The first of this circumstances was the death of Muwatalli, who fought in the battle of Kadesh against Ramesses II. A dynasty crisis came to the Hittite Empire then – Urhi-Teshub, the son of Muwatalli from a minor marriage, was able to use this crisis and usurped the throne for himself under name Mursili III. He counted against Hattusili, who was brother of Muwatalli and had legitimate right for the throne.

A crucial turn

Hattusili gained what belonged to him finally and banished his treacherous nephew in northern Syria. But Mursili III. was unwanted there as well, so he fled to Egypt, where he wanted to be under Ramesses II. protection. Ramesses was very well aware of the price of Mursili III. for him.

The land of Hattusili III. was more and more endangered by the Assyrians led by a new king Shalmaneser I and Hattusili knew that power dissipating would be a suicide. So he decided to make a deal with one of the two rivals. Egypt seemed him more suitable for it, because he had already known it, so Hattusili asked Ramesses II for releasing Mursili and offered signing a peace treaty as requital. Ramesses II agreed with it.

Non-aggression and reciprocal help

It is almost unbelievable that both copies of the peace treaty preserved till nowadays (one in Akkadian language and the other in Egyptian language - a copy of original text engraved into a silver tablet). The Hittite copy with translation into Egyptian language was placed at a heel of sun god statue in Heliopolis. Its text was also inscribed into walls of a temple in Karnak on the southern side of the 9th pylon. The Egyptian copy with translantion into Akkadian language was placed in Hittite capital Hattusa at Hittite god Teshub heel. The text was copied into earthen tablets, which were found by Hugo Winckler in Bogazkale (Turkey) in 1906.

The treaty is dated to December of the 12th year of Ramesses II reign. It begins with official admitting of Muwatalli responsibility for breach of the deal between Amenhotep IV and Suppiluliuma, the predecessor of Muwatalli. An agreement of both lands follows about non-aggression, reciprocal help in case of an attack from the third land and about releasing political opponents. The treaty guarantees a permanent peace,  confirms validity of both land boundaries (without detailed definition).

Ramesses II. married daughter of the Hittite king

Ramesses II. married daughter of Hattusili III. to confirm validity of the treaty even more. Her name was Maathorneferure and they married twelve years after signing the treaty (in the 30th year of Ramesses reign). A stele reminds this extraordinary event - the copies of it were exhibited in Karnak, Abu Simbel and on Elephantine. This eldest peace treaty has never been broken!

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