The Battle of 5000 Chariots

Eli Whitney Museum

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2012 Summer Program

In 1274 BCE, Rameses the Great of Egypt led an army north to attack the Hittite Mutawalli II. The Egyptians sought to win back Kadesh, a strategic city on the line (now in Syria) between the ancient Empires. There are both Hittite and Egyptian records of the battle, making it the first battle in history for which we have written (or inscribed) accounts. Of course, the accounts do not agree: each side proclaims victory. But it is known that 2000 Egyptian Chariots encountered as many as 3000 northern chariots. The largest contest of Chariots ever. It is known that there were spies, and traps and blunders and heroic recoveries.

Build an Egyptian and a Hittite Chariot, their horses, drivers and archers. Construct northern and southern infantry. Join the class in reconstructing the city of Kadesh, the feints and ploys and charges of the battle, and its outcomes as both sides recall it.

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