One of the most significant battles of the ancient Near East took place in 1300 B.C. when the Egyptians and Hittites clashed at Qadesh, located in Syria north of Damascus. (Some, using a lower chronology, date the battle to 1286 or 1285 B.C.) According to Healy this “is the earliest battle in the history of mankind whose course can be reliably reconstructed in detail” (p. 6). In this readable and well-illustrated volume, Healy provides a brief survey of the background of the battle, a description of the opposing armies (led by Rameses II of Egypt and Muwatallish of Hatti), a detailed account of the battle itself, and some thoughts on its aftermath. Despite Rameses’ propagandistic account of the battle, the Hittites were the real victors at the strategic level and retained control of northern Syria. Approximately sixteen years after the battle the Egyptians and Hittites signed a peace treaty, which was maintained for almost a century. According to Healy during this time “the Ancient Near East witnessed eighty years of remarkable peace and prosperity” (p. 88).
Though this battle is not mentioned in the Bible, those interested in the ancient Near Eastern background of Israel’s early history will find this volume of interest. It should also be of value to those interested in weapons, techniques, and strategies used in ancient Near Eastern warfare.
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