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Contemporary Perpsective

Contemporary Perpsective
Welcome back again. I’m here again with Dr. Alex Mackenzie. And this week we looked at Ramesses II and the Battle of Kadesh, how we marched to Kadesh to reassert authority in the Near East following a period in which Egypt seemed to have withdrawn. So their empire essentially shrank. Records tell us that Ramesses II marched into the Near East with the aim of recapturing areas lost to Hittite authority, but he was ambushed at Kadesh by the Hittites. The direct contact between Egypt’s Ramesses II and the Hittites Muwatalli II resulted in war this time, the Battle of Kadesh.
The battle itself ended in a stalemate with the Egyptian army unable to defeat the Hittites and retake key areas that had once been under Egyptian control. Now eventually a treaty was drawn up between the two sides. And this survives on the walls of temples in Egypt and also on baked clay tablets in the Hittite capital of Hattusa. The treaty states that the two superpowers would be at peace from then onwards. It appears that Ramesses II had resigned to the fact that he would never really recover those northern areas of Syria Palestine from the Hittites. They remained in control of them. So I guess we’re talking about post-war settlements.
And so we happen to have treaties drawn up from the Egyptian and the Hittite sides. But, again, is there any kind of anything comparable we can point to to say that yeah, this looks legitimate? I think an example, really– and it’s a more complex example as a result of the two sides actually being allies during the Second World War– is that of the US and the USSR in the postwar settlement there how, really, an iron curtain, as Winston Churchill put it, descended over Eastern Europe and how the continent of Europe was, of course, separated between West and East.
And, really, this was a case of, although the USSR had agreed to hold democratic elections in various conferences during the Second World War, they actually ended up holding onto Eastern Europe and, in many ways, actually not having these elections taking place. So, as a result, they ended up in control and actually put puppet governments in place to maintain Eastern Europe, of course, because, again, they were concerned about the rise of Germany. Great. So very similar kind of stuff. And, in fact, one of the reasons for the treaty between Egypt and the Hittites is because these two societies, these two states, are actually concerned about another growing threat in the background, which is the Assyrian Empire.
So there are points of contact there, in a general sense.

The historical theme to this week has been war and the the ensuing peace. Here Alex investigates a more modern equivalent of the uneasy truce that existed between the Egyptians and the Hittites.

In the following step you will be given the opportunity to add you voice to a discussion about contemporary stand-offs between power blocks.

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Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

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