Jump to content
The Education Forum

The Temple Complex at Balbek, Lebanon

Michael Clark

Recommended Posts

The Wikipedia entry for the Temple at Baalbek, Lebanon is woefully inadequate and wrong on several counts. The Temple site is a fascinating topic and I have come up with a hypothesis as to it's origin. I intend to collect some information here and present my theory, in one form or another. I will start with the Wikipedia entry in hopes that I can point-out the errors therein, with evidence and research.


My current theory was has developed out of my reading on the subject. I will post here my thoughts and as I read more I will, this time through, document the sources that support or challenge my conclusions.

In a nutshell, it seems possible and likely that the Temple Mount was begun as a joint Egyptian-Hitite project to celebrate or cement the treaty that ended years of warfare between the two empires. The Hittite empire collapsed some 80 years after the treaty, and this could explain why the sanctuary was left unfinished. Well documented are both the Battle of Kadesh, and this treaty. The Battle of Kadesh seems to be securely locate, by historians, some miles north of Baalbek, but that location is not placed without some doubt.













Edited by Michael Clark
Link to comment
Share on other sites


The Wikipedia entry for the Temple at Baalbek, Lebanon is woefully inadequate and wrong on several counts. The Temple site is a fascinating topic and I have come up with a hypothesis as to it's origin. I intend to collect some information here and present my theory, in one form or another. I will start with the Wikipedia entry in hopes that I can point-out the errors therein, with evidence and research.

Here is the current Wikipedia entry.....



Temple of Jupiter (Roman Heliopolis)

The Temple of Jupiter (Roman Heliopolis) was a colossal temple dedicated to the cult of Zeus, located in Heliopolis of Roman Phoenicia (Baalbek of modern Lebanon). It was the main building in a huge "Great Court" (or "Sanctuary") of a Roman pagan temple complex that still partially stands.[1]

Temple of Jupiter

The remains of the temple

General information

TypeRoman temple

Architectural styleClassical

LocationBaalbek, Lebanon
Heliopolis, Roman Phoenicia

Construction startedfirst century

Completedlate 2nd or early 3rd century

 Height95 m (312 ft)

Technical details

Size90 by 54 m (295 by 177 ft)

Design and construction


 Main contractorCommissioned by Augustus


The Temple of Jupiter in Heliopolis (in a complex area called even Sanctuary of Heliopolitan Zeus) presumably replaced an earlier Phoenician one that used the same foundation. The presence of a huge quarry was one of the reasons for the Roman decision to create a huge "Great Court" of a big pagan temple complex in this mountain site, located at nearly 1100 meters of altitude and on the eastern Borders of the Roman Empire: it took three centuries to create this colossal Roman paganism's temple complex.

On a single E-W axis almost 400 m long, the sanctuary of Heliopolitan Jupiter includes monumental propylaea, a hexagonal court, a large rectangular court, and the temple proper, where the cult idol was enthroned under a canopy in the cella.The sanctuary occupies an ancient tell, artificially enlarged by enormous works of terracing and masonry. At the W end near the N corner, the supporting walls contain three colossal quadrangular stones, called the "Trilithoi", each one nearly 20 by 4.5 by 3.6 m. Another even larger stone was left in a quarry at the foot of the hill W of the town. Two long vaulted galleries running E-W correspond at the basement level to the peristyle of the central court. They are open at the ends and joined by a transverse gallery. Some of their keystones carry Latin inscriptions. J.Rey-Coquais

The Temple of Jupiter —once wrongly credited to Helios[2]— lay at the western end of the Great Court of Roman Heliopolis. It raised another 7 m (23 ft) on a 47.7 m × 87.75 m (156.5 ft × 287.9 ft) platform reached by a wide staircase.[3]

This temple was dedicated to the Roman Zeus and the construction was started by Julius Caesar and continued later by Augustus: it was the biggest pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter in all the Roman empire. The columns were 30 meters high with a diameter of nearly 2.5 meters: the biggest in the classical world.

Under the Byzantines, it was also known as the "Trilithon" from the three massive stones in its foundation and, when taken together with the forecourt and Great Court, it is also known as the "Great Temple".[4] The Temple of Jupiter proper was circled by a peristyle of 54 unfluted Corinthian columns:[5] 10 in front and back and 19 along each side.[3]

The Temple-Sanctuary of Heliopolitan Zeus was ruined by earthquakes,[6]destroyed and pillaged for stone under Theodosius,[7] and 8 columns were taken to Constantinople (Istanbul) under Justinian for incorporation into the Hagia Sophia. Three fell during the late 18th century.[8] 6 columns, however, remain standing along its south side with their entablature.[3] Their capitals remain nearly perfect on the south side, while the Beqaa's winter winds have worn the northern faces almost bare.[9] The architrave and frieze blocks weigh up to 60 tonnes (66 tons) each, and one corner block over 100 tonnes (110 tons), all of them raised to a height of 19 m (62.34 ft) above the ground.[10]Individual Roman cranes were not capable of lifting stones this heavy. They may have simply been rolled into position along temporary earthen banks from the quarry[9] or multiple cranes may have been used in combination. They may also have alternated sides a little at a time, filling in supports underneath each time.

The Julio-Claudian emperors enriched its Sanctuary in turn. In the mid-1st century, Nero built the tower-altar opposite the temple. In the early 2nd century, Trajan added the temple's forecourt, with porticos of pink granite shipped from Aswan at the southern end of Egypt.

See also

Heliopolis of Phoenicia

Roman Phoenicia

Temple of Bacchus


 Video of the actual Temple of Jupiter and the Sanctuary

 Cook (1914), p. 565.









Edited by Michael Clark
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another article




Baalbek: Temple of Jupiter, Shrine


Baalbek or Heliopolis (Ἡλιούπολις, "sun city"): town in the northern Bekaa valley, site of the largest sanctuary in the Roman world.

Use two fingers to move the map


Temple of Jupiter: Shrine

The six remaining columns

Rising above a wide flight of stairs, the shrine of the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek was the largest sanctuary in the Roman world, but little survives, except for six Corinthian columns on the south side, which are still carrying their entablature (the horizontal beams). The reason is that from the sixth century on, the temple was dismantled. The author known as ps.-Zacharias of Mytilene informs us that in 524/525, lightning destroyed the building,note and after that, the emperor Justinian (r.527-565) started to remove the granite columns (they may have been used in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople). Later, in the age of the Crusades, the stones were reused to convert the complex into a fortress.


Measuring 88 x 48 meters, the temple was surrounded by no less than fifty-four columns: ten in the façade, twice nineteen along the long sides, and ten on the west side (the corner pillars must not be counted double). They were twenty meters tall, had a diameter of 2¼ meters, and carried an entablature that was another five meters high. Inside were tall walls and more columns, which supported the massive roof, made of cedarwood.

This was a large place to gather snow in the winter, and there must have been a lot of melting water, so that it comes as no surprise that there were gargoyles. They had the shape of lions' heads. (Lions were sometimes associated with the sun.) It must have been a beautiful sight when, in the early days of spring, the melting water fell from a height of twenty-five meters.


Inside the temple, which was only accessible for the priests, stood the cult statue of Jupiter Heliopolitanus. According to Macrobius, the it had been taken from Egypt, was made of gold, and showed the god as a beardless, young man, "with its right hand raised and holding a whip, like a charioteer," while the left hand held "a lightning bolt, and ears of grain".note There are several signet seals and other representations of the statue, which allow us to establish that the statue was flanked by two bulls (Hadad's animal), and that the god probably wore representations of the Sun and Moon on his breast. On his head, he wore a basket-shaped hat, a kalathos.

The temple is built on a terrace of 13 ½ meters high. Very large stones were used to build it. The three stones at the west end measured no less than 19 x 4 x 3 meters and weigh more than a thousand tons each. Together, they were called the trilithon, and ancient authors never tired of praising this wonder. (A similar stone can still be seen in the quarry.) 


According to Michael the Syrian,note the cult statue was still standing during the reign of Justin II (r.565-578). However, this cannot be true, because lightning had destroyed the temple in 524/525. We already saw that this was reported by Pseudo-Zacharias of Mytilene, who also mentions that in his days, the temple had been converted into a church of Mary, mother of God.

Some of the columns were removed by sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, but at least nine of them were still standing in 1759, when an earthquake took place, leaving only six columns standing.

This page was created in 2012; last modified on 12 April 2018.



Edited by Michael Clark
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The treaty...


Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty

The Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, also known as the Eternal Treaty or the Silver Treaty, is the only ancient Near Eastern treaty for which both sides' versions have survived. It is sometimes called the Treaty of Kadesh after the well-documented Battle of Kadesh fought some sixteen years earlier, although Kadesh is not mentioned in the text. Both sides of the treaty have been the subject of intensive scholarly study.[1] The treaty itself did not bring about a peace; in fact "an atmosphere of enmity between Hatti and Egypt lasted many years," until the eventual treaty of alliance was signed.[2]

Translation of the texts revealed that this engraving was originally translated from silver tablets given to each side, which have since been lost to contemporary historians.

The Egyptian version of the peace treaty was engraved in hieroglyphics on the walls of two temples belonging to Pharaoh Ramses II in Thebes: the Ramesseumand the Precinct of Amun-Re at the Temple of Karnak.[3] The scribes who engraved the Egyptian version of the treaty included descriptions of the figures and seals that were on the tablet that the Hittites delivered.[4]

The Hittite version was found in the Hittite capital of Hattusa (in present day Turkey), preserved on baked clay tablets uncovered among the Hittite royal palace's sizable archives. Two of the Hittite tablets are today displayed at the Museum of the Ancient Orient, part of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. The third is on display in the Berlin State Museums in Germany.[5] A copy of this treaty is prominently displayed on a wall in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.


The treaty was signed to end a long war between the Hittite Empire and the Egyptians, who had fought for over two centuries to gain mastery over the lands of the eastern Mediterranean. The conflict culminated with an attempted Egyptian invasion in 1274 BC that was stopped by the Hittites at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River in what is now Syria. The Battle of Kadesh resulted in both sides suffering heavy casualties, but neither was able to prevail decisively in either the battle or the war. The conflict continued inconclusively for about fifteen more years before the treaty was signed. Although it is often referred to as the "Treaty of Kadesh", it was actually signed long after the battle, and Kadesh is not mentioned in the text. The treaty is thought to have been negotiated by intermediaries without the two monarchs ever meeting in person.[6] Both sides had common interests in making peace; Egypt faced a growing threat from the "Sea Peoples", while the Hittites were concerned about the rising power of Assyria to the east. The treaty was ratified in the 21st year of Ramses II's reign (1258 BC) and continued in force until the Hittite Empire collapsed eighty years later.[7]

Pre-Ramesses II relationship with the Hittites

Hittite-Egyptian relations officially began once the Hatti took over Mitanni's role as the ruling power in central Syria and from there tensions would continue to be high until the conclusion of the treaty nearly one hundred years later.[8] During the invasion and eventual defeat of Mitanni, the Hittite armies poured into Syria and began to exert their rule over the Egyptian vassals of Kadesh and Amurru. The loss of these lands in northern Syria would never be forgotten by the Egyptian pharaohs and their later actions demonstrated that they never would fully concede this loss at the hands of the Hittite Empire.[9] Egypt's attempts to regain the territory lost during the rule of Akhenaten continued to be futile until under the leadership of Seti I, the father of Ramesses II, significant gains did start to be made. In his own Kadesh-Amurru campaign against the Hittite armies, Seti I vanquished his foes at a battle near Kadesh, but the gains proved short-lived since Kadesh was eventually given up by Seti in a later treaty.[10] The short gain by the Egyptians was the "opening salvo" of a conflict between the two nations, which would drag on over the next two decades.[11]

Battle of Kadesh 

Main article: Kadesh inscriptions

The accounts of this battle mainly are derived from Egyptian literary accounts known as the Bulletin (also known as the Record) and the Poem as well as pictorial Reliefs.[12] Unfortunately for scholars and individuals interested in the Battle of Kadesh, the details that these sources provide are heavily biased interpretation of the events. Since Ramesses II had complete control over the building projects, the resources were used for propagandist purposes by the pharaoh, who used them to brag about his victory at Kadesh.[13] It is still known that Ramesses marched through Syria with four divisions of troops in the hopes of destroying the Hittite presence there and restoring Egypt to the "preeminent position it had enjoyed under Tuthmosis III".[14] The Hittite king, Muwatalli II, gathered together an army of his allies to prevent the invasion of his territory. At the site of Kadesh, Ramesses foolishly outdistanced the remainder of his forces and, after hearing unreliable intelligence regarding the Hittite position from a pair of captured prisoners, the pharaoh pitched camp across from the town.[15]The Hittite armies, hidden behind the town, launched a surprise attack against the Amun division and quickly sent the division scattering. Although Ramesses tried to rally his troops against the onslaught of the Hittite chariots, it was only after the arrival of relief forces from Amurru that the Hittite attack was thrown back.[16]

Although the Egyptians were able to survive a terrible predicament in Kadesh it was not the splendid victory that Ramesses sought to portray but rather a stalemate in which both sides sustained heavily losses.[17] After an unsuccessful attempt to gain further ground the following day, Ramesses headed back south to Egypt bragging about his individual achievements during Kadesh. Even though Ramesses technically won the battle, he ultimately lost the war, when Muwatallis and his army retook Amurru and extended the buffer zone with Egypt further southward.[18]

Subsequent campaigns into Syria

Despite suffering the later losses during his invasion of Syria, Ramesses II launched another campaign in his eighth year of rule, which proved largely successful. Instead of launching an attack against the heavily fortified position of Kadesh or going through Amurru, Ramesses conquered the city of Dapur in the hope of using the city as a bridgehead for future campaigns.[19] After the successful capture of Dapur, the army returned to Egypt, and so the recently acquired territory reverted to Hittite control. In the tenth year of his rule, he launched another attack on the Hittite holdings in central Syria, and yet again, all areas of conquest eventually returned to Hittite hands. The pharaoh now recognised the impossible task of holding Syria in such a fashion and so ended the northern campaign.[20]

The period is notable in the relationship between the Hittites and the Egyptians because despite the hostilities between the two nations and military conquests in Syria, Kadesh had been the last direct, official military confrontation fought among the Hittites and Egyptians. In some regards, as historians have noted, the period could be considered 'cold war' between Hatti and Egyptain.[21]



The Egyptian treaty was found in two originals:[3] one with 30 lines at the Temple of Karnak on the wall extending south of the Great Hypostyle Hall, and the second showing 10 lines, at the Ramesseum.[22]

The Egyptian version of the peace treaty was preserved on a wall in the Temple of Amun at Karnak and on a wall in the RamesseumJean-François Champollioncopied a portion of the accords in 1828 and his findings were published posthumously in 1844.[3][23] The Egyptian account described a great battle against the "Great King of Khatti", then an unknown figure, later confirmed by other archaeological evidence to be the Hittite monarch Muwatalli II.


In 1906–1908, the German archaeologist Hugo Winckler excavated the site of the Hittite capital, Hattusa (now Boğazkale in Turkey) in conjunction with Theodore Makridi, the second director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The joint Turkish-German team found the remains of the royal archives, where they discovered 10,000 clay tablets written with cuneiform documenting many of the Hittites' diplomatic activities.[24] The haul included three tablets on which the text of the treaty was inscribed in the Akkadian language, a lingua franca of the time. Winckler immediately grasped the significance of the discovery:

... a marvellously preserved tablet which immediately promised to be significant. One glance at it and all the achievement of my life faded into insignificance. Here it was – something I might have jokingly called a gift from the fairies. Here it was: Ramses writing to Hattusilis about their joint treaty ... confirmation that the famous treaty which we knew from the version carved on the temple walls at Karnak might also be illuminated from the other wise. Ramses is identified by his royal titles and pedigree exactly as in the Karnak text of the treaty; Hattusilis is described in the same way – the content is identical, word for word with parts of the Egyptian version [and] written in beautiful cuneiform and excellent Babylonian ... As with the history of the people of Hatti, the name of this place was completely forgotten. But the people of Hatti evidently played an important role in the evolution of the ancient Western world, and though the name of this city, and the name of the people were totally lost for so long, their rediscovery now opens up possibilities we cannot yet begin to think of.[25]

The Hittite treaty was discovered by Hugo Winckler in 1906 at Boğazkale in Turkey.[26][27] In 1921, Daniel David Luckenbill, crediting Bruno Meissner for the original observation, noted that "this badly broken text is evidently the Hittite version of the famous battle of Kadesh, described in prose and verse by the scribes of Ramses II".[28]


The peace treaty of Ramesses II and Hattušiliš III is known as one of the most important official "international" peace treaties between two great powers from the ancient Near East because its exact wording is known to us.[29] Divided into points, the treaty flows between the Egyptians and Hittites as each side makes pledges of brotherhood and peace to the other in terms of the objectives. The treaty can be seen as a promise of peace and alliance since both powers make the mutual guarantee that they would not invade the other's land. This provision ensures that both participants would act in harmony regarding the disputed Syrian holdings and, in effect, establishes boundaries for the two conflicting claims.[30] No longer, according to the treaty, would costly Syrian campaigns be waged between the two Near Eastern powers, as a formal renunciation of further hostilities is made.

A second clause promotes alliance by making reassurances of aid, most likely military support, if either party is attacked by a third party or by internal forces of rebellion or insurgency.[31] The other stipulations coincide with Hattušiliš' aims (consult Hittite aims section) in that the Hittite ruler placed great emphasis on establishing legitimacy for his rule: each country swore to the other to extradite political fugitives back to their home country and within the Hittite version of the treaty Ramesses II agreed to provide support to Hattušiliš' successors in order to hold the Hittite throne against dissenters.[31][32] After the conclusion of the provision detailing the extradition of emigrants to their land of origin, the two rulers call upon the respective gods of Hatti and Egypt to bear witness to their agreement. The inclusion of the gods is a common feature in major pieces of international law since only a direct appeal to the gods could provide the proper means to guarantee adherence to the treaty.[33] Their noted ability to bestow curses and blessings to people is employed as a serious penalty that would be imposed in case of a violation.

It is the only ancient Near Eastern treaty for which both sides' versions have survived, enabling the two to be compared directly. It was structured to be an almost entirely symmetrical treaty, treating both sides equally and requiring them to undertake mutual obligations. There are a few differences; for instance, the Hittite version adopts a somewhat evasive preamble, asserting that "as for the relationship between land of Egypt and the Hatti land, since eternity the god does not permit the making of hostility between them because of a treaty valid forever." By contrast, the Egyptian version states straightforwardly that the two states had been at war.[6]

The treaty proclaims that both sides would in future forever remain at peace, binding the children and grandchildren of the parties. They would not commit acts of aggression against each other, they would repatriate each other's political refugees and criminals and they would xxxist each other in suppressing rebellions. Each would come to the other's aid if threatened by outsiders: "And if another enemy come [against] the land of Hatti ... the great king of Egypt shall send his troops and his chariots and shall slay his enemy and he shall restore confidence to the land of Hatti."[6]

The text concludes with an oath before "a thousand gods, male gods and female gods" of the lands of Egypt and Hatti, witnessed by "the mountains and rivers of the lands of Egypt; the sky; the earth; the great sea; the winds; the clouds." If the treaty was ever violated, the oath-breaker would be cursed by the gods who "shall destroy his house, his land and his servants." Conversely, he who maintained his vows would be rewarded by the gods, who "will cause him to be healthy and to live."[6]

Analysis-theories about the treaty

Previous and contemporary Egyptologists have argued over the correct labeling of the treaty: some have interpreted it as a treaty of peace while others have seen it as a treaty of alliance between two hostile states. James Breasted in 1906 was one of the first people to collect the historical documents of Ancient Egypt in an anthology and understood the treaty to be "not only a treaty of alliance, but also a treaty of peace, and the war [Ramesses' Syrian campaigns] evidently continued until the negotiations for the treaty began".[34] For Breasted, the intermediate periods of conflict were directly resolved by the signing of the treaty and therefore required the treaty to be one of both alliance and peace. However later Egyptologists and other scholars began, even within twenty years of Breasted's publishing, to question whether or not the treaty between Ramesses II and Hattušiliš III was one of peace at all. Alan Gardiner and his partner S. Langdon examined previous interpretations and determined that their predecessors had misinterpreted the line "to beg peace" in the text. The oversight in the language caused Egyptologists to incorrectly see the treaty terminating a war instead of seeking a beneficial alliance between Hatti and Egypt.[35] Trevor Bryce further argues that within the Late Bronze Age treaties were established "for reasons of expediency and self-interest… their concern was much more with establishing strategic alliances than with peace for its own sake".[36] The consensus that is starting to emerge is that although the treaty mentions establishing "brotherhood and peace forever", it is not about peace but rather about forming a mutually beneficial alliance between the two powers.

Another matter that has caused scholars to speculate is which of the two countries pursued negotiations first. As previously mentioned, Ramesses II had lost portions of his Syrian territory when he retreated to Egypt at the conclusion of the Battle of Kadesh. In this sense, Hattušiliš would have had the upper hand in the negotiations, considering Ramesses' desires to emulate the military successes of Tuthmosis III. Until the 1920s, Egyptologists had mistaken the insecurity of Egypt's Syrian holdings to mean that Ramesses had come to Hattušiliš begging for a solution to the Syria problem. Donald Magnetti brings up the point that the Pharaoh's duty to bring mortal activity in line with the divine order through the maintenance of maat would have been reason enough for Ramesses II to pursue peace.[37] However, the interpretation is incorrect since the questions about Hattušiliš's legitimacy as monarch would demand recognition by his fellow royals in the Near East. The weak position abroad and at home that defined his reign suggests that it was the Hatti leader who sued for peace.[38] In fact, Trevor Bryce interprets the opening lines of the treaty to be "Ramesses, Beloved of Amon, Great King, King of Egypt, hero, concluded on a tablet of silver with Hattušiliš, Great King, King of Hatti, his brother" to enforce that the incentives of the Hatti ruler had far greater implications that compelled him to sue for peace.[39]


Egyptian aims

Considering his relatively stronger position over Hattušiliš, what did Ramesses hope to achieve by accepting an alliance with his hated Hittite enemies? After fifteen years of futile attempts at regaining his lost territory in Syria, scholars argue that Ramesses now realized that his opportunities to match the military achievements of Tuthmosis III were unrealizable. In that light, it became increasingly important for Ramesses to obtain an international victory through diplomacy to bolster his deeds as pharaoh.[40] The attempts at regaining the lands which the Hittites had taken had ultimately failed to break the hold of the Hittites over the region. Instead, Ramesses would take his losses, so long as the Hittites would recognize the current division of Syria, give Egypt access to ports in the Hittite territory to boost commerce, and grant trading access as far north as Ugarit.[41] The ability to advance Egypt's financial and security interests by means other than war led to Ramesses' willingness to pursue friendlier relations with the Hittites.

Maintaining the status quo in the region became a priority for Ramesses, considering the emergence of the Assyrian military power. Assyria's military might was a force to be reckoned with, and therefore Ramesses would have found it desirable to ensure that Assyria would not have a presence in Syria. If the Assyrians were allowed to enter Syria, they would be an arm's length from Egypt herself and pose a threat to Egypt proper.[42] By accepting the Hittite overture of alliance, Ramesses would count on the fact that the newly-made allies would help safeguard their mutual holdings in Syria against this upstart power of Assyria.[43]

Besides the added incentive of no longer depleting Egypt's finances with expensive wars with Hatti and increasing the security of Egypt's claims in Syria, signing the treaty with Hatti also provided Ramesses the opportunity to brag about his "defeat" of the Hittites. Since Hattušiliš had been the one to approach Ramesses, the pharaoh in his depictions at the Ramesseum represents the settlement as one that the Hittite king had asked for in a position of submission.[44] Considering the official language of the treaties at the time was completely independent of one another, Ramesses was able to present the terms of the treaty from his perspective. This free control over the depictions of his role by the language of the treaty gave the pharaoh opportunity to present a greatly idealized point of view.[45] His ability to assert a sense of supremacy as ruler of Egypt and his attempts to portray this strategic alliance as a victory over the Hittites demonstrate why Ramesses' would be so willing to choose such a mutually beneficial peace. The conclusion of open hostilities between the two regional powers was a personal triumph for the aging pharaoh and, as his monument at Abu Simbel shows, the pharaoh made his subjects well aware of the fact that he, Ramesses, was the conqueror of the Hittites.[46]

Hittite aims

In opposition to Ramesses' strength in international affairs, Hattušiliš III was disadvantaged by questions of legitimacy that raised doubts about his position as king of the Hittites. Although Hattušiliš had defeated his nephew, Urhi-Tesub, for the throne in all regards, he continued to be seen as a usurper of the kingship. Urhi-Tesub's determination to regain the throne from his uncle caused the Hittite empire to enter into a period of instability both at home and abroad.[47] The nephew had been banished after an unsuccessful coup and had ended up in Egypt. Ramesses II thereby posed a direct threat to Hattušiliš' reign by harboring Urhi-Tesub within Egypt's borders.[48] Hattušiliš realized that only an alliance with Ramesses could prevent the monarch from unleashing his nephew back into contention with him for the throne. By concluding a treaty with Egypt, Hattušiliš also hoped that garnering the endorsement of Ramesses of his position as the true king of Hatti would effectively reconcile the disaffected elements in his kingdom that backed Urhi-Tesub as the rightful possessor of the kingship.[49] In the Near Eastern world Ramesses wielded great power amongst the rulers of the day and formal recognition from him would give Hattušiliš credibility on the international stage.

The threat of his nephew staging another coup against him greatly worried Hattušiliš during a time when he faced a considerable threat from the Assyrians in the east. During the reign of Hattušiliš predecessor the Assyrian king had taken Hanigalbat, which had been a vassal territory under Hittite control.[50]This aggression strained relations between the two countries, but even more importantly, the Assyrians appeared to put themselves in the position to launch further attacks across the Euphrates River. The perceived threat of Assyrian invasion proved a strong motivator for the Hittites to open up negotiations with Egypt. It was this sense of the 'Assyrian danger' that pushed Hatti into a relationship with Egypt.[51] Under the terms of the treaty, the Egyptians would be obligated to join with their Hatti allies if Assyria invaded Hittite territory. Besides this threat from the east, Hattušiliš recognized the need to strengthen his relationship with his Egyptian neighbors. The competition that had existed between Hatti and Egypt over the Syrian lands no longer served the interests of Hattušiliš. In fact, Trevor Bryce argues that Hattušiliš was satisfied with his current holdings in Syria, and any further expansion of Hittite territory southward was both unjustifiable and undesirable.[52]


After reaching the desired alliance with Hatti, Ramesses was now able to turn his energies to domestic building projects, such as the completion of his great, rock-hewn Abu Simbel temples.[53] The warming of the relationship between Ramesses and the Hittite king enabled the pharaoh to gather the necessary resources, which no longer were spent on the war effort, but rather, for his extensive construction projects. In year 34 of Ramesses II's reign there is evidence that, in an effort to establish stronger, familial bonds with Hatti, the pharaoh married a Hittite princess.[54] Evidence of the dynastic marriage as well as the lack of textual evidence of a deterioration of the friendly relationship demonstrates that peaceful dealings between Hatti and Egypt continued for the remainder of Ramesses' reign.[55] By furthering their bonds of friendship through marriage, the Hittites and Egyptians maintained a mutually beneficial peace that would exist between them until the fall of Hatti to Assyria nearly a century later.[56]



Edited by Michael Clark
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...