Egyptian and Assyrians Battle Relief

13 Sep

Art and War became the basic norm as civilization begun to emerge around the known world. The implication of art upon a civilization was far fetching as today’s media has on society. The Egyptians and later by the Assyrians were one of the first civilizations to chronologically depict the development of their civilization though art. These civilizations depict the continuous struggle between their civilizations as the beacon of light against other tide of darkness of other civilizations.

The glorification of Egyptian and Assyrians victories in battle have a profound impact on the psyche of its population. Rulers of Egypt and Assyria wanted to instill the image of divinity into the hearts and minds of its citizenry into order to maintain the social classes in place. To the eyes of today’s individuals it may seem simple minded but to the rulers of empires it was to spread a simple and clear message in order to maintain a complex infrastructure in place.

Furthermore, to illustrate the point mention previously lets take a deeper look into the history of the craved image of the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC) on the walls at Karnak from a historical perspective. Ramesses II as portrayed victorious on the walls of Karnak for everyone who visited the Temple. One has to remember that the Temple of Karnak is the second most visited site after the Great Pyramids of Giza during the reign of Pharaohs. The other point one also as to keep in mind is the importance and influence of religion had upon Egyptian society. Even literacy was solely confine to the priest, trader, and noble classes of Egyptian society but the rest of the classes do comprehend the importance of images craved onto the walls of a temple.

In a matter of speaking those images that are craved into the walls of the Karnak Temple has a political, religious, and social overtone that are meaningful to the eye of an Ancient than to the eye of a modern man. If one to examine the Battle of Kadesh from the historical point of view the craving on the wall are further from the truth than one would expect. The Battle of Kadesh was fought between the Egyptians led by Seti I and his son Ramesses II and Hittites led by Muwaralli II. The Battle of Kadesh was part of a larger campaign that was under took by previously Ramesses I (the grandfather of Ramesses II) and continued by Seti I in expanding the Egyptian Empire.

However at the Battle of Kadesh, with the Egyptians having gained the upper hand under the brilliant leadership of Ramesses II, they were force to retreat after their camp was plundered by a Hittite counterattack. The Egyptian suffered massive casualties were unable to continue their campaign retreated from the battle by claiming victory. The Hittites was unable to pursuit the Egyptian decided to claimed victory and regroup. The evidence of the Hittites successes exists due to the fact that Hittites tablets of their campaign were found in Turkey. It was a tactical victory for the Hittites but a strategically draw as both sides were unable to effectively make war on the other for a couple of years.

The outcome of the Battle of Kadesh gave a way for a peace treaty signed between the Hittites and Egyptian civilizations (the Hittite-Egyptian tablet can be viewed at the United Nations and is considered the first known written peace treaty in the Ancient period) which eventually gave territory away to the Hittites. Out of this peace treaty, civil unrest descended upon the Egyptian Empire due to the spread of a possible defeat of the God like Pharaoh in the hands of a peasant like civilization. In order to portray a strong image of the Egyptian Empire, Ramesses II commissioned the carving of his conquest of the Hittites at the Temple of Karnak. This was a clear demonstration by the Egyptian of the political spin that was needed to secure the legitimacy of their Pharaoh.

One would also conclude that the people of Egypt will not question the image they saw on the walls of a temple. The objectivity of the evidence that the Egyptians were defeated at the Battle of Kadesh was overshadowed by their strong beliefs in their rulers and religion. Since many men from farms and other social classes never returned after the Hittite-Egyptian Campaign but the images on the temple walls speak to the grievances of the common people of Egypt that their love ones did not perish in vain.

The Assyrians were masters of imagery since they control a vast Empire filled with different nationalities that resided within their borders. Take for example the relief at Nineveh that illustrates their glorious campaign in subduing the nations around their empire. Assyrian King Ashurbanipal was considered the last great king of the Assyrian Empire due to his ability to read and write which was an uncommon trait in that corner of the world. He was also a master at the art of war which was common to all rulers of the Assyrian Empire which faced constant rebellions and in fighting among nobles for the right of successions.

Art and War in the Assyrian Empire goes hand in hand due to the struggle to maintain order within its borders. In order to maintain stability the rulers of Assyrian will commission carved tablets or pillars in temples like the one in Nineveh and towns or villages displaying the anger and cruelty of the Assyrian military upon the defeated nation. This was to instilled obedience upon its subjugated people and the prevention of civil unrest. It was unlike the leaders of the Egyptian Empire who commission craved images of the glorification of their campaigns to reassure the sense of security among the populace. The Assyrians instill fear in order to maintain security of the ruling class.

The Egyptian and Assyrian Empires used battle relief at Nineveh and Karnak to maintain power over their people. They controlled the information flowing to the people who reside within their borders. The objective was to instill a sense of loyalty among its people and to cultivate support from the population during campaigns or other ambitions projects.


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