Turkey: The Hittites
Here's a short paper I wrote for my students following my visit:
Egypt and Turkey - The Qadesh Treaty
The connection between modern day Egypt and Turkey is an ancient and enduring one. Three thousand years ago a society of people lived known as the Hittites. For nearly 600 years the Hittites ruled much of Anatolia, the Middle East area outside of Egypt. Hittite society has since vanished. Among reminders of their people one notable symbol remains, a stone tablet containing the Qadesh (Kadesh) Treaty. This agreement, providing peace and security to the area and created a “brotherhood” between societies that exists to this day.
In ancient time Egypt and the Hittites both had highly developed civilizations respected for their structured ruling class, military genius, political organization, legislation and the administration of justice. The Hittite kingdom had a very powerful queen, As it grew in size it assimilated many neighboring cultures and became known as the people of a thousand gods. Their capital was Hattusas (Boazköy) in what is now Turkey. Egypt’s northern capital was Cairo. Both powerful nations struggled for greater control of resources and people. Many small wars took place between the two, culminating in a famous battle that changed the course of history.
The Qadesh Tablet
In 1290 B.C. soldiers of Egypt’s Rameses II and those of Muwatallis, King of the Hittites, met in battle. In the confrontation, Ramses was surrounded by thousands of Hittite warriors. Despite the likelihood of devastation Ramses wrestled a treaty from his enemy. Their agreement, known as the Qadesh Treaty, was set in writing. Peace was further solidified in 1250 B.C. by Ramses’ marriage to Muwatalliss’ daughter. Harmony between the two nations did not last long. In 1200 B.C. under new rule, Egypt destroyed the Hittite empire.
The original Qadesh Treaty, inscribed clay tablets, was cast in silver and sent to Egypt. Its’ cuneiform script is in eight different languages, mostly Hittite and Akkadian. It has since been lost but, copies of the text still exist. One reproduction written in hieroglyphics can be found on a wall of Karnak Temple in Cairo, Egypt. Another is located in the archeological museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Due to the international importance of the Qadesh Treaty, depicting "eternal peace," a copy may be found hanging in the United Nations Building in New York City. Hattusas has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.