Forerunners of the Hattusili-Ramesses treaty

Forerunners of the Hattusili-Ramesses treaty

Dietrich Sürenhagen

BMSAES, 6 (2006), 59-67


The Hattusili-Ramesses treaty from 1259 BC was preceded by only one earlier agreement. This becomes obvious from clauses in the actual treaty as well as from citations in Hittite texts of Suppiluliuma I and his son Mursili II. This was a parity treaty, which was possibly concluded during the reign of the Middle Hittite king Tuthalija I, three generations before Suppiluliuma I. Its original wording can partly be found in the Middle Hittite so-called ‘Kurustama treaty’. There is no evidence for the renewal or cancelling of this older agreement prior to the Hattusili-Ramesses treaty. Under these aspects the latter must be regarded nothing but the updated version of a still existing older treaty.

In 1259 BC, the 21st year of Ramesses II, a long period of hostility between Egypt and Hatti ended when the pharaoh concluded a treaty with the Hittite Great King Hattusili III. Hostilities had begun during the reign of the Hittite Great King Suppiluliuma I, some 80 years before, when this ruler con- quered parts of Northern and Middle Syria and on this occasion came into conflict with Egypt which was ruled then by the pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty. Ongoing hostilities between both major powers are also attested during the reign of Suppiluliuma’s successor, his son Mursili II. They reached their culmination in 1274 BC when Mursili’s son and successor Muwatalli II, supported by a great number of vassal troops, fought the famous battle at Qadesh against the young pharaoh Ramesses II. That this battle ended with only moderate success for the Hittite side is clearly visible from succeeding campaigns of Ramesses in Central Syria. The situation did not improve until Hattusili III, a brother of the late Muwatalli, deposed the successor to the throne, his nephew Mursili III, and made himself Great King of Hatti. In order to stabilize his illegitimate reign, Hattusili was more interested in good relations with foreign powers of equal rank than his predecessors were. Besides the treaty with Egypt, which is the only preserved one, we know from diplomatic letters about the existence of treaties with Babylonia, Assyria, and the Mycenaean kingdom of Ahhijawah. At least two of them—the treaties with Egypt and Babylonia—deal with the mutual protection of the office of the ruler and the succession to the throne.

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