Ancient Egypt is one of the most influential societies of all time. While it often finds itself in competition with Rome, Greece, and even China, it was the bedrock upon which much of western society was laid - the achievements of other cultures are impressive, but they ultimately build off those of Egypt. Everything from law codes to governmental structures had roots in Egypt, Today, Its influence can be felt even past the borders of Egypt - not only across the Levant and north Africa, but across the western world which owns it existence to the splendor of Egypt.
One of the most powerful leaders of Egypt was Ramesses II. He is remembered not only did he expand the borders of his empire, but his reign was unprecedented in length - 66 of his 90 years were spent on the throne. In fact, in our timeline, he was often referred to as “great ancestor” by his successors. Perhaps his greatest success was his victory at Kadesh, a battle between the Hittites and the Egyptians, and the first in history with detailed records. It was a great triumph for Ramesses and Egypt, and throughout the battle, the Egyptians were outnumbered. Multiple times Ramesses barely dodged death, while the Egyptian army barely avoided obliteration.
But what if the Pharaoh's death hadn’t been avoided, and the Egyptians lost the initive? What if the Hittites had crushed the Egyptians with the force of Kings and Gods?
Ramesses II was in the midst of yet another of his Syrian campaigns. Less than a decade into his reign, he had already proved himself a successful general. However, the upcoming battle, near the city of Qadesh would prove trying to even his talents. Not only was his army outnumbered two-to-one, but the Hittites were on the defensive - always an advantage. However, the new Pharaoh felt he was ready for the challenge, and drove his army northward to Qadesh.
Upon arriving, the Egyptians found their opponents already encamped. Ramesses set up camp directly across the river from the Hittites, just north of the river fork were Qadesh was located. With dusk arriving, both sides realized there was no future attacking across a river in near darkness, and the bulk of both armies waited until the morning. Besides small skirmishes and unrest in the city itself, that night was peaceful.
As soon as he woke up, the Pharaoh began his attack. His army was already organized into four divisions, which he quickly split up for the battle. The Nearin and Ptah headed to the north and south flanks respectively, while the Ra division went south until they were about level with Qadesh. The Amun division, containing Ramesses, was left to guard the camp. Despite Ramesses desire to fight as soon as possible, the Divisions took hours to reach position.
Taking advantage of the time the careful Egyptian preparation was taking, the Hittites were able to strike first. As the Ra division had prepared itself to attack Qadesh, Hittite chariots moved on their flank, unnoticed. At mid morning, the Egyptians charged. The Ra division, taken completely by surprise, lost all coherence and was practically animated by the Hittite Chariots. Within minutes, those who hadn’t fled to The Ptah were cut down by the Hittite.
After the obliteration of the Ra division, the battle preceded quickly. The Hittite chariots made a wide arc and crashed into the Egyptian camp. Meanwhile, the superior Hittite foot soldiers began their river crossing, ensuring the Egyptian camp stood no chance. Around a half hour of brutal slaughter followed. By the time the Nearin and Ptah divisions were able to begin their marches back, the Amun division was effectively destroyed.
The Nearin division, which was closer, was the first priority of the Hittite. While the Hittite decimated the Nearin on foot, chariots harassed the Ptah and the remainders of Ra, preventing them from making it a two pronged assault. After only an hour of fighting, the Nearin division was destroyed, and the Hittite turned on what little Egyptian soldiers remained, prompting their hasty retreat. Only months later would Ramesses’ body be recovered and returned to the Egyptians, and by that time, the kingdom he once ruled was falling apart.