The Battle of Kadesh

Lecture by Dr. Betsy Bryan, Johns Hopkins University

  • 8:00 p.m.Washington, DC
  • The Bender JCC of Greater Washington, Charles E. Smith Community Service Campus6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD 20852
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The battle of Kadesh, sometimes called the first world war, featured one of the largest-ever chariot battles. It was fought in 1275 B.C.E. in present-day Syria between the Egyptians under Pharaoh Ramses II, and the Hittites under King Muwatalli II, who were supported by eighteen of their allied and vassal states.

The invasion by Ramses II sought to wrest Syria from the Hittites and recapture the Hittite-held city of Kadesh. Ramses II led his forces into an ambush by 2,500 Hittite chariots, lured by Hittite spies who gave false information to their Egyptian captors.

The battle may be the earliest military action recorded in detail, mostly from Egyptian sources, which proclaimed the siege a great victory for Ramses II. Some historians disagree and proclaim the encounter a Hittite victory because Ramses failed to achieve his military objective. Was it a draw then?

This illustrated lecture will lay out the background of the battle, follow the contours of the military engagement, and discuss the aftermath.

Venue Information

This venue has free on-site parking and is accessible from both the Twinbrook and White Flint Metro stops. 

About the Speaker

Betsy M. Bryan is the Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University, where she has taught since 1986. Dr. Bryan specializes in the history, art, and archaeology of the New Kingdom in Egypt, ca. 1600-1000 B.C., with a particular emphasis on the 18th Dynasty, ca. 1550-1300 B.C. Dr. Bryan’s research interests include the organization and techniques of art production as well as the religious and cultural significance of tomb and temple decoration. She currently does fieldwork in the temple complex of the goddess Mut at South Karnak. Research there focuses on defining the earliest forms of the temple of Mut of Isheru.

Bryan is also interested in the presentation of Egypt’s visual history to the public and has curated two major loan exhibitions: one on the art of the reign of Amenhotep III entitled “Egypt’s Dazzling Sun” at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the other an exhibit of art illustrating the New Kingdom concepts of the afterlife entitled “The Quest for Immortality” at the National Gallery of Art.