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Major Battles in Ancient Egypt

In 1479 B.C., at the Battle of Megiddo, Pharaoh Tuthmosis III had over 20,000 men under his command to do battle against Syria’s 15,000 man army. The Egyptians won the battle, capturing over two hundred chariots and two thousand horses from the defeated Syrians.

Another famous Egyptian battle took place in 1288 B. C. in the city of Kadesh in Syria. Kadesh was under Hittite control and taking the city was key to controlling Syria. The Egyptians were led by Ramesses II, who commanded an army of 20,000 men divided into four divisions. Each division was named after a major Egyptian deity: Amun, Ptah, Ra, and Sutekh.

After being tricked by two spies employed by the Hittites, Ramesses took the Amun division forward to Kadesh on the misinformation that the Hittites had fled to the north. The other three divisions in the order of Ra, Ptah, and Sutekh hurried to break their camps and follow. Ramesses’ Amun division crossed a small river to reach the northwest side of Kadesh by noon and set up camp.

The Ra division that was following to the south was attacked by a large group of Hittite chariots. They broke ranks and fled. Those to the north hurried to the safety of the Amun division, while most of the others were scattered or destroyed by the Hittities.

Ramesses led several charges into the Hittite ranks, killing the king’s brother and several other key leaders. Despite this terrific blow against the Hittites, the Egyptians were still at a great disadvantage due to their tremendous battlefield losses. The Hittite soldiers turned from battling the Egyptian army when they came upon the Egyptian camp and began raiding the Egyptian camp. The Egyptians were saved when another regiment of the Egyptians came from the east to the camp and destroyed the raiding Hittites.

Meanwhile, the Egyptians of the Amun division were still surrounded by Hittites. Six times without success Ramesses tried to break through the Hittite line to the south.. At last the Ptah division appeared in the distance to the south. The Hittites were forced to retreat to the safety of the city before they were surrounded on both sides by Egyptian troops. This was considered a great victory for the Egyptians, but it appears the Egyptians never took the city. They instead signed a peace treaty with the Hittites.


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