Do You Know World's First International Peace Treaty?

9/3/2021

5 Minute

The oldest treaty basing on the principle of equality in world history is the Kadesh Peace Treaty. Let's take a closer look at the details of this treaty, sealed between the Hittites and the Egyptians, as the two powerful civilizations of the ancient world.

The Hittites were a dominant empire ruling a vast area in Anatolia for a long time. Ruling such a large state required constant relations with many other states and governments. Today, we learn about these interstate relations thanks to the cuneiform tablets. Undoubtedly, the Kadesh Peace Treaty, representing a cornerstone of diplomacy, is one of the most valuable of these documents in history.

In 1274 BC, a great battle took place at the Hittite stronghold Kadesh, an important ancient trade center, between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II and Hittite King Muvattalli II. In the aftermath of the war, these two great powers agreed that a treaty was the only way serving to their interests in the region, and they ended up sealing the Kadesh Peace Treaty. ​​Due to the death of II Muvattalli, the treaty was sealed by his successor Hattusili III. Symbolizing the eternal fraternity and equality between the two greatest forces of the world at that time, this document took its place in history as the first international peace treaty. The Treaty comprises sections applying to both sides on equal terms, demanding mutual aid and support when needed.

Another striking point about this document is that it was also sealed by the Hittite queen of the period, Puduhepa. This treaty, providing significant information about the roles of the kings and queens in the Hittite social life, was written in cuneiform on silver plates in Akkadian, the language of diplomacy. Although the original silver plates have not been found to date, their copies have been unearthed as clay tablets in Hattusa. The translation of one excerpt of the  document, whose another version was also found on the temple walls in Egypt, is as follows:

“Here, the King of Egypt the Great King Ramses is in good peace and good brotherhood with the Great King Hattusili, the king of the Hittite land. Here, the children of the King of Egypt, the Great King Ramses, will be in peace and brothers forever with the children of the Great King Hattusili, the king of the Hittite land. The land of Egypt and the land of the Hittites will be in peace and brothers forever in accordance with the relationship of brotherhood and peace between us!”

Upon the Treaty, the Hittite-Egyptian relations were constructed on peace and fraternity.

A replica of the Treaty hangs in the United Nations Building in New York, emphasizing the foundation of modern diplomacy as an example of negotiation. In addition, you can explore the clay tablet version of the document found in the Hattusa (Boğazköy) excavations at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums today, and you can have the chance to closely examine a document of great importance in history.

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