This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh (Israel) or Kedesh Kadesh (also Qadesh or Qadesh-on-the-Orontes) was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River. It is surmised by Kenneth Kitchen to be the ruins at Tell Nebi Mend, about 24 kilometers (15 mi) southwest of Homs  near Al Qusayr in what is now western Syria but is located in the text of the inscriptions at the battle of Kadesh as near Tunip in the land of the Amurru. Kadesh was the target of military campaigns by most of the pharoahs of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and one of many outlying vassals won by the southerly encroachments of the Hittite Empire between 1500 and 1285 BCE. Between 1504 and 1492 BCE Thutmose I campaigned north into Syria against the Mitanni a vassal of the Hittites and along with Aram an ally of Kadesh. In 1479 BCE Thutmose III fought against the king of Kadesh in the Battle of Megiddo. In the time of Hatshepsut there were no campaigns against Kadesh as she was focused on developing trade across the Red Sea and southward. Although Amenophis II campaigned in the djadi from then on until the reign of Haremhab 1319-1307 for a century and a half Canaan was in virtual rebellion and the Egyptians could do little about it. In 1306 BCE Seti I succeeded in taking the city. In 1274 BCE, the fifth year of Ramesses' reign, he led a large force of chariots and infantry to retake the walled city. In a meeting engagement, the Battle of Kadesh, the two forces clashed in what is widely regarded as the largest chariot vs. chariot battle (5,000—6,000 between both sides) in history on the plain south of the city and west of the Orontes River.
The site of Kadesh was first occupied during the Chalcolithic period. Kadesh is first noted as one of two Canaanite cities (the other being Megiddo) that led a coalition of city-states opposing the conquest of the Levant by Thutmose III. In mounting this opposition, Kadesh (known as Qidshu in the Akkadian language Amarna letters) was probably guided by the ruler of Mittani, Egypt's primary foreign rival in control of the Levant. Defeat in the subsequent Battle of Megiddo ultimately led to the extension of Egyptian hegemony over the city, as well as the rest of southern Syria. Correspondence between the ruler of Kadesh and the pharaoh Akhenaten is preserved amongst the Amarna letters. The names of three kings of Kadesh survive from contemporary sources: Suttarna (fl. c. 1350 BCE); Etakkama (c. 1340s) and Ari-Teshub (fl. c. 1330-1325).
The city was captured by the great pharaoh Seti I during his campaign to Syria. Kadesh had been lost to Egypt since the time of Akhenaten. Tutankhamun and Horemheb had both failed to recapture the city from the Hittites. Seti I was successful here and defeated a Hittite army that tried to defend it. He triumphantly entered the city together with his son Ramesses II and erected a victory stela at the site. His success was only temporary. As soon as Seti I returned to Egypt, the Hittite king, Mursilis II, marched south to take the town of Kadesh on the Orontes River. Once taken, Kadesh became the stronghold of the Hittite defenses in Syria, although the Hittites ruled through a viceroy in Carchemish.
Battle of Kadesh
The city is best known as the location of one of the best documented battles of the ancient world, the Battle of Kadesh, staged between the superpowers of the 13th century BC: the Egyptian and the Hittite Empires. An Egyptian vassal for approximately 150 years, Kadesh eventually defected to Hittite suzerainty, thereby placing the city on the contested frontier between the two rival empires. In response to this Hittite ascendancy and expansion southwards, the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II prepared an aggressive military response and captured the coastal state of Amurru. The next year, the Hittites moved south to recover Amurru, while the Egyptians moved north to continue their expansion into Syria. The inhabitants of the city of Kadesh had cut a channel from the river to a stream south of town, which had turned the town into a virtual island. The subsequent battle, fought at Kadesh, very nearly witnessed an Egyptian military disaster. After Hittite spies convinced the Egyptians that the Hittites were further away than they were, the Hittites surprised the Egyptians in their own camp. The Egyptian army was only saved by the arrival of a supporting force from coastal Amurru. Ramesses II was able to recover the initiative, and the two armies withdrew in stalemate, both claiming victory. Kadesh, however, remained under Hittite overlordship, Amurru returned to the Hittite fold, and the Hittite army continued its conquests southward as far as Upi, the territory around Damascus.
The subsequent impasse between Egypt and Hatti ultimately led to what is now recognised as one of the earliest surviving international peace treaties, concluded several decades later between Ramesses II and his Hittite counterpart, Hattusili III.
The End of Kadesh
Kadesh vanishes from history after it was destroyed by the invading Sea Peoples in around 1178 BCE. However, Hellenistic remains have been found in the upper levels of the tell (ruin-mound), and the summit is still occupied today. Continuous occupation throughout the Islamic period is likely, the mound having been named after a local Muslim saint or prophet, Nebi Mend. In Byzantine times, widespread occupation is evidenced by extensive remains at the foot of the tell, which is believed to represent the city of Laodicea ad Libanum.
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