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 Museum Explorer

Warfare in
Ancient Egypt

The Battle of Kadesh

Height: 266.8 cm
Width: 203.3 cm


EA 19

The Battle of Kadesh

From: the Ramesseum, Thebes, Egypt
Date: 19th Dynasty, about 1250 BC

This is a colossal bust of the pharaoh Ramesses II ‘the great’. At the start of his reign he did a lot of fighting in order to keep his empire together. In 1274 BC he lead a huge army of 20,000 men northwards towards the Hittite Empire. The Hittite king Muwatalli II tricked Ramesses into thinking that his army were far away, then sprung an ambush. The resulting Battle of Kadesh was probably the largest battle of ancient times, involving up to 6000 chariots.

The result of the battle was not a clear win for either side, and both armies lost many men. However, after returning to Egypt Ramesses was quick to claim victory, saying that the Hittites had fled across the river ‘swimming as fast as any crocodile’.