battle of kadesh

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How to Move an Ancient Egyptian Temple — The Relocation of the Abu Simbel Temples.

In the 13th century BC the mighty pharaoh Ramses II ordered the construction of two large temples in southern Egypt to commemorate the Battle of Kadesh, to honor his queen Nefertari, and to impress his Nubian enemies to the south.  Carved directly into the sandstone hillsides, the large facade of the temples feature four colossus statues of Ramses himself, each standing 67 feet in height.  The facade itself stands an incredible 100 feet high and 119 feet wide.  Inside of the temples are a network of rooms and hallways with many priceless hieroglyphic carvings detailing Egyptian history, religion, and folklore.

By the 1960’s the Abu Simbel Temples were a national treasure for the new Egyptian nation.  However, Egypt’s industrial modernization would threaten the temples in a way that no pharaoh could have ever predicted.  Near Abu Simbel was the construction of a 364 foot hydroelectric dam known as the Aswan dam.  A key objective of the Egyptian government, the dam would provide electricity for the developing nation and kick start a new agricultural plan which would create a massive irrigation project.  However, Abu Simbel was literally in deep trouble, for construction of the damn would leave the ancient temples submerged at the bottom of the Lake Nasser Reservoir.

To save Abu Simbel, a team of archeologists, historians, engineers, architects, and construction workers were recruited by UNESCO to conduct one of the most ambitious rescue operations of an ancient structure.  The plan was to relocate the ancient temples above the flood plain of Lake Nasser.  Incredibly, the team cut the temple facade and structure into individual blocks weighing 20-30 tons.  Each block was numbered then recorded to keep track of where they would go when reassembled.  The blocks were lifted out of their original foundation using massive cranes, then transported to another site where they could be catalogued and stored for later.  From 1964-1965 over 10,000 stone blocks were cut, lifted, and transported away from the site. 

The new home for the temples was located 200 meters inland and at a height  65 meters higher than the original Abu Simbel site.  To recreate the look of a temple carved from a sandstone hill, artificial hills were created using concrete which simulated sandstone.  Once the new Abu Simbel site was ready, each block was meticulously fitted back into position, reconstructing the ancient temples anew.  In fact the reconstruction is so precise that it would impress ancient Egyptian engineers, on the façade of the temples there are no visible seams where the blocks meet.  Only a few joins can be found from within the temple complex.  The project was completed in 1968 and cost $40 million, over $250 million dollars today.  The cost was well worth it as the Abu Simbel complex is considered one of the great treasures of Egypt and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Over 500,000 tourists visit the temples every year.

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Royalty Meme ♛ [1/10] Historical Monarchs
↳ Ramses II (also spelled Rameses or Ramesses; Greek: Ozymandias)

Ramses II was the son of Seti I and was Seti’s co-ruler from 1279 B.C.E., ultimately becoming the third pharaoh of Egypt’s Nineteenth Dynasty. During his long and extraordinary reign, Ramses initiated huge restoration and construction projects throughout Egypt and Nubia. He established a new capital, Pi-Ramesses, and built, among others, two famous temple complexes at Abu Simbel and another in Thebes, called the “Ramesseum” by Egyptologists. He also had a magnificent tomb constructed for his favorite wife, Nefertari.

Ramses also led a number of military campaigns, namely against the Hittite Empire in Canaan and Syria. The most famous of these ended in the nearly-disastrous Battle of Kadesh, which Ramses turned from a certain defeat into a stalemate. He returned to Egypt as a war hero. Eventually, the Egyptians and Hittites drew up the world’s first surviving peace treaty. No further campaigns in Canaan were recorded during Ramses’ reign.

Ramses had over two hundred consorts and concubines; with them, he had some ninety-six sons and sixty daughters. He lived for over ninety years, making him virtually immortal in the eyes of many of his subjects who had never known another pharaoh and outliving at least thirteen of his heirs. His reign lasted for an unprecedented sixty-six years. When he died in 1213 B.C.E., he left the Egyptian Empire wealthy and powerful. He was remembered by his successors as their “Great Ancestor." 

His mummy was discovered in the Valley of the Kings and is today displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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Ramesses was to reign until he was ninety two years old. He would go down in history as a heroic warrior. But it’s less well known that sixteen years after his famous battle at Kadesh he signed a treaty with his enemies, the Hittites. It was the world’s first recorded peace treaty between superpowers and it brought great prosperity to Egypt. Ramesses’ most lasting achievement, contrary to the warlike propaganda on his temple walls, was as a bringer of peace.

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The Other Golden Age of Piracy — The Era of the Sea Peoples,

When Spain conquered much of Central and South America a golden age of piracy occurred as buccaneers and privateers flocked to the Caribbean to steal their share of Spanish gold.  However piracy is a phenomenon as old as seafaring itself, and thousands of years before notorious pirates such as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts, another band of pirates known as “The Sea Peoples” terrorized the ancient Mediterranean, creating an earlier golden ages of piracy that rivaled that of the pirates of the Caribbean.

The Sea Peoples terrorized the Mediterranean around the 12th and 11th century BC.  Very little detailed information is known about the Sea Peoples, and most of what is in recorded history comes from Egyptian sources, especially from the court of Ramses III.  Essentially the Sea Peoples were a large band of pirates who raided ships, stole treasure, and murdered all who got in their way.  However the Sea Peoples were much more than just mere buccaneers.  The extent of their raiding was such that entire cities, kingdoms, and empires were sacked by the marauders.  It was not uncommon for the Sea Peoples to show up unannounced, massacre any military forces that protected a city, take everything of value, then disappear as quickly as they had arrived.  Even whole nations and empires fell to the Sea Peoples.  An inscription at the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III the notes the nature of a Sea People’s invasion,

“The lands were removed and scattered to the fray. No land could stand before their arms, from Hatti, Kode, Carchemish, Arzawa, Alashiya all being cut down.”

The Sea Peoples were even responsible for the fall of the Hittite Empire, a superpower that rivaled Egypt during the Bronze Age.  After the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC, the Hittites (modern day Turkey) became a victim of a series of massive raids by the Sea People’s.  The Sea Peoples ravaged all ports and cities along the Mediterranean coast and Black Sea.  They even ventured inland, sacking various cities all over Anatolia.  When nothing of value was left to take, the Sea Peoples disappeared and never returned.  However the Hittite Empire was left so weakened by the attacks, that the empire eventually collapsed, being conquered by the Assyrians.  The only empire noted for being able to successfully fend off the Sea Peoples were the Egyptians, where Ramses III personally destroyed a marauder fleet and army at the mouth of the Nile River.

 What is most perplexing is that no one knows for certain who the Sea Peoples were.  The prevailing theory, based on modern archaeological evidence and ancient records, suggests that the Sea Peoples were not one people, but a multitude of different ethnicity’s.  The time period around the 12th and 11th century BC today is known as the “Bronze Age Collapse”, a tumultuous period caused by famine, war, the fall of civilizations such as Mycenaean Greece and Troy, and the migration of new Indo-European nomads from the east, such as the Dorians and Persians.  As a result, a large population of disaffected people from all over the Mediterranean who became pirates and marauders in order to make a living.  Archaeological evidence of many Sea People sites show that they were an odd mix of Mycenaean Greeks, Hittites, Philistines, Proto-Celts, Trojans, exiled Minoans, Sicilians, Italic peoples, and Phoenicians.  

Sea People attacks occurred far and wide, evidence suggests that the Sea Peoples may have gone as far as Spain, Britain, and even the Baltic.  By the end of the 11th century BC Sea People raids began to dwindle and cease, as the political and environmental situation in the region settled, and the Sea Peoples began to settle colonies throughout the Mediterranean. 

Ancient carving depicting the Battle of Kadesh, showing the Shasu spies shown being beaten by the Egyptians
The Battle of Kadesh (also Qadesh) took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic.

The battle is generally dated to 1274 BC, and is the earliest battle in recorded history for which details of tactics and formations are known. It was probably the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving perhaps 5,000–6,000 chariots.

The proportion is off in the photo just because this thing was so huge, so, sorry about that.  This is my reproduction of a portion of the wall frieze illustrating Ramses II at the Battle of Kadesh.  I didn’t paint the horses because…I just didn’t have enough paper.  I’m really surprised the tempra paint has survived almost a decade rolled up in a tube without flaking. o.o

Mesopotamian Bronze Chariot Hunter, Early Dynastic, Mid-3rd Millennium BC

A very rare diorama on a rectangular framework base comprising: two stationary horses with halters attached to a round-section blustered yoke; a two-wheeled hunting chariot with stepped axle-tree and linch-pins to the solid wheels; a kilted hunter standing bare-chested and bearded holding the reins (part absent), with a slaughtered animal across the frame before him, game-bag behind to his left and quiver with arrows to his right; to the rear, a small hunting dog riding on the chariot’s beam.

The horse was first domesticated on the Eurasian steppe, its original habitat, perhaps as early as the 4th millennium BC; it may have been bred as a food source initially, but its use as a traction animal had begun by the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, replacing the ox for this purpose. Wheeled vehicles had already appeared in the 3rd millennium BC, but the spoked wheel is not evidenced until the late 2nd millennium BC. The earliest known physical remains of chariots are in the chariot burials of the Andronovo Culture, an Indo-Iranian population in the area of modern Russia and Kazakhstan dating to around 2000 BC.

The combination of multiple horses and light-framed two-wheeled vehicles offered the possibility of travel at speed, both for war and for hunting. Chariot warfare originated with the Hittites, with the invention of spoked wheels around 1900 BC. Depictions of hunting in a chariot appear in Egypt after the vehicle’s introduction by the Hyksos in the 16th century BC, notably at Abu Simbel where the Battle of Kadesh fought in 1274 BC is represented, showing Ramses II fighting from a chariot with two archers accompanying him (photo). There is a similar example made from gold that forms part of the Oxus Treasure now in the British museum.