Egyptian and Hittite Empires by Billie Jean Collins


In the late Bronze Age there were two major powers, the Hittites and the Egyptians and they, as a result, were in competition with one another for resources—most particularly in the region that lay between the region of the Levant, Syria and Palestine. And the resulting tension culminated eventually in a great battle at the site of Kadesh in Syria. And this battle was epic for the time; Ramesses the second, Ramesses the Great, fought King Muwatalli.

The battle resulted in what is, more or less, a draw, different sides argue who won the day; but ultimately both sides withdrew, and later in Ramesses’ reign, he concluded a peace treaty with Muwatalli’s brother and successor, Hattusili III, and it was the world’s first international peace treaty. It was a treaty between equals and this treaty introduced a period of peace unheard of in the region up to that time; and it’s known as the Pax Hethitica or the Pax Aegyptiaca depending on your perspective.

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But, this introduced a peace that lasted in the region through the end of the Bronze Age and this is a period in which the Hittites and the Egyptians cooperated in the region and communicated and the flow of trade and goods and ideas ran through the region as it never had before; and this is a period of cross-fertilization and contact and communication and a time that is fertile for influence from both sides to come into the Levant. The Hittites then married a daughter, Hattusili’s daughter, became one of Ramesses’ wives and, again, this peace lasted until the end of the Bronze Age. And it was a rare time of prosperity and peace in the Near East.


Billie Jean Collins

Billie Jean Collins
Adjunct Lecturer, Emory University

Billie Jean Collins is an adjunct lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at Emory University. Her research interests include Hittite religion, society, and philology as well as the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world. She has written widely on these topics, including her book The Hittites and Their World (SBL Press, 2007).

The stage of development during which humans used copper or bronze weapons; in the ancient Near East, approx. 3300 to 1200 B.C.E.

The countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean sea, from the Sinai in Egypt to Aleppo in Syria.

Another name often used for the area of Israel and Judah, derived from the Latin term for the Roman province of Palaestina; ultimately, the name derives from the name of the Philistine people.

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