Archive for the ‘Ancient Eygpt’ Category

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

By 1400 BCE Egypt had established control over most of the coastal lands and began to move north conquering the Hurrian-Mittani held territory between the Mediterranean and Euphrates. This expansion north soon brought them into conflict with the Hittites, who under the Emperor Suppiliaumas I captured some of the Egyptian held northern Laventine territories from the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton.

Around 1370 a new wind blew through the Fertile Crescent. Ashur or Assyria, which until then had been a fairly minor player on the political scene began campaigns moving both Northwest into the remains of the Hurrian-Mittani kingdom and South into Kassite controlled Babylonia. Ashur-uballit I titled himself ‘Lord of the universe’ following these victories. The use of this title, first used by Sargon of Akkad is obviously deliberate, creating a link between the new Assyrian rulers and the old Akkadian Empire. Their expansion was limited by the Egyptians and Hittites to the West and although in 1230 they managed to capture the city of Babylon, they were unable to hold onto the territory.

"Statue of Ramesses II in Karnak Temple in Luxor Egypt" by MusikAnimal - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Statue_of_Ramesses_II_in_Karnak_Temple_in_Luxor_Egypt.JPG#/media/File:Statue_of_Ramesses_II_in_Karnak_Temple_in_Luxor_Egypt.JPG

“Statue of Ramesses II in Karnak Temple in Luxor Egypt” by MusikAnimal – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

In the West 1275 saw the battle of Kadesh (in modern day Syria) at which the forces of Rameses II of Egypt clashed with those of either Hattusillas II or Muwatalli II, the Hittite Emperor. It has been suggested that this battle was probably the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving perhaps 5,000–6,000 chariots. The Hittites using their traditional 3 man chariots against the lighter and faster Egyptian 2 man chariots.

3 man chariot Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:C%2BB-Chariot-Fig7-HittiteChariot.PNG#/media/File:C%2BB-Chariot-Fig7-HittiteChariot.PNG

3 man chariot
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – 

Initially the battle went heavily in favour of the Hittites, who managed to ambush the Egyptian army, but Rameses skilfully managed to extract his forces from the ambush and counter attack against the Hittite forces. The most likely outcome is that it was a draw or maybe a slight victory for the Hittites. This battle is primarily recorded in reliefs at the Abu-Simbel temples and in Egyptian documentation, which all describe the battle as a great Egyptian victory.

Abu Simbel Relief by Olaf Tausch - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gro%C3%9Fer_Tempel_(Abu_Simbel)_21.jpg#/media/File:Gro%C3%9Fer_Tempel_(Abu_Simbel)_21.jpg

Abu Simbel Relief by Olaf Tausch – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – 

However it must be noted that within a year, Rameses had signed a treaty with the Hittite Empire, which acknowledged the loss of the Egyptian northern Levantine territory seeding it to the Hittites.

Around the year 1200, there is a major civilisation collapse in the Fertile Crescent and in adjacent areas. This period, marked a significant decline for the Hittites, Egypt, the Kassite kingdoms, Assyria and for the remnant of the Hurrian-Mittani kingdom. The reasons for this decline are unexplained and puzzle historians to this day.

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Horus was one of the most significant of the ancient Egyptian gods. He was usually depicted as a falcon headed man. Most notably, he was regarded as being the god of sun, the sky, war and hunting. It may be from this latter function that the image of the falcon is taken. Horus was the first national god for the kingdom of Egypt and later became the patron god of the Pharaohs, who in turn came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus during their lives. For this reason, some depictions of Horus shows him wearing a crown similar to that worn by the Pharaohs.

This Horus-falcon statue dates from around 600 BCE and can be seen in the British Museum.

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The cult of the goddess Bastet originated in lower Egypt and was centred around the city of Bubastis in the Nile Delta. The Greek historian, Heroditus visiting the city in the fifth century BCE , gave a lengthy description of the Temple of Bastet. Bastet was originally a lion headed goddess of war worshipped from the time of the second dynasty (c2890 BCE). However, when the upper and lower kingdoms merged, there was also a lion headed goddess of war in the pantheon of the upper kingdom and so Batest became a cat headed goddess. Gradually, over time, she lost her association with war and in later periods was associated with family and with perfume. A number of perfume jars have been discovered with the goddess’ image upon them. In the ever-changing pantheon of Egyptian gods Bastet became merged with other deities, particularly Wadjet, the patron goddess of lower Egypt.

This statue, called the Gayer-Anderson cat after its donators is made of bronze and dates from the period 664-332BCE. It can be seen in the British Museum.

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This red breccia figure from the British Museum is of the Egyptian goddess Taweret. She is usually portrayed as a pregnant hippopotamus with the face of a lion. She is sometimes also shown the back of a Nile crocodile. The choice of a hippopotamus for a depiction of a deity may seem strange to us, but female hippos are renounced for their protection of their young and this must have been an image that appealed to the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, the female hippopotamus was a relatively common animal image use for protective deities associated with the birth and care of the young.

Taweret is found as early as the old Kingdom (2686 -2181 BCE) being mentioned in a few texts, but came into prominence in the Middle Kingdom (2055 – 1650 BCE) and continued into the new kingdom, the Ptolemaic and the Roman periods. Egyptian trade with other Mediterranean civilisations also led to the inclusion of Taweret into the religions of the Minoans in Crete, Mycenae in Greece and of the Nubians to the south (modern-day Sudan).