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Campaign & Deception

Battle of Kadesh - The Military

Relief of an Enemy

The Campaign

Pharaoh Ramses II marched out of Pi Ramses with about 20,000 men who were divided into 4 Divisions of the Infantry and the Chariotry, named after the Gods: Amun, Ra, Ptah and Set. They advanced using the coastal road from northern Egypt up into Canaan, what we know as Palestine and Lebanon, approaching Kadesh from the South. It appears that at this juncture, Pharaoh was already contemplating his march back home and he left an elite taskforce from his Army to secure the Port of Simyra, adjacent to the Sea, whilst the bulk main Army marched on.

About 13km south of Kadesh for speed and efficiency due to the Terrain, Pharaoh had divided his Army down the middle to approach Kadesh from the 2 most strategic vantage points. Divisions Ra and Amun remained with Ramses, and we can assume that this would have included his personal guard or Medjay, and they crossed the River Orontes at the Shabtuna Ford before reaching and progressing through a forest; whilst Divisions Ptah and Seth circumnavigated around and ended on the far side of the Orontes River.

Egyptian Soldiers going to the Battle of Kadesh

The Deception

During Divisions Ra and Amun’s path through the Forest, Ramses Scouts captured 2 spies. The spies gave an account to the Egyptians telling them that the main body of the Hittite’s army was away from Kadesh in Khaleb, north of Tunip and so the City and its Fortress was only governed by its Garrison. This account was a lie. In truth the Hittite army was hiding behind the city. The Egyptians only learned of this deception when they were already on the plain outside the City of Kadesh and totally exposed to the ambush. How did they find out? By capturing a further 2 Hittite spies. Pharaoh Ramses questioned these spies himself and learned of the duplicity being told that the numbers of the Hittite Army and their allies were hiding behind the city and were, ‘more numerous than the grains of sand of the beach’.

Egyptian Soldiers interrogating Kadesh-ite Spies

Pharaoh Ramses II killing an enemy at the Battle of Kadesh

Relief showing the City of Kadesh during the Battle of Kadesh

Relief showing the Battle of Kadesh