Document #5 – The Silver Treaty (1259 BC)

Two versions of the treaty between Egypt and the Hittite Empire were created. One written in Akkadian by the Hittites and inscribed on a solid silver tablet was sent to Egypt, where it was translated and inscribed on the walls of Ramses II’s tomb. The other, created by the Egyptians, was translated into Akkadian, inscribed upon a silver tablet, and sent to Hattusa, where it was discovered by archeologists just a few decades ago.

Questions to consider:

  1. What are the specific provisions of the treaty? Can you name a few in your own words?
  2. Why was this treaty necessary between these two empires which had been fighting for hundreds of years?
  3. What is the context of the writing of this treaty? Why is that important for understanding its content?

Peace Treaty Between Ramses II and Hattusili III (1258 BC)

Two articles follow that established the mutual alliance against any foreign attack on either country:

If a foreign enemy marches against the country of Hatti [The Hittite Empire] and if Hattusili, the king of the country of Hatti, sends me this message: “Come to my help against him”, Ramses, the great king, the king of the Egyptian country, has to send his troops and his chariots to kill this enemy and to give satisfaction to the country of Hatti

If a foreigner marches against the country of Egypt and if Ramses, the great king, the king of the country of Egypt, your brother, sends to Hattusili, the king of the country of Hatti, his brother, the following message: “Come to my help against him”, then Hattusili, king of the country of Hatti, shall send his troops and his chariots and kill my enemy.

The treaty then included three articles establishing mutual collaboration against any internal mutiny or coups in either country:

If Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti, rises in anger against his citizens after they have committed a crime against him and if, for this reason, you send to Ramses the great king, the king of the country of Egypt, then Ramses has to send his troops and his chariots and these should exterminate all those that he has risen in anger against.

If Ramses, king of the country of Egypt, rises in anger against his citizens after they have committed a wrong against him and by reason of this he sends (a message) to Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti, my brother, has to send his troops and his chariots and they have to exterminate all those against whom have risen in anger.

To avoid any further dispute, if a refugee flees to the other country, ten articles were dedicated to their extradition. This was the first extradition agreement in history between two nations. The treaty did not exclude any person, regardless of status; “great men” and “unknown persons” are treated the same.

If a great person flees from the country of Hatti and if he comes to Ramses, the great king, king of the country of Egypt, then Ramses, the great king, the king of the country of Egypt, has to take hold of him and deliver him into hands of Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti.

If a great person flees from the country of Egypt and he escapes to the country of Amurru [Mesopotamia] or a city and he comes to the king of Amurru, then Benteshina, king of the country of Amurru, has to take hold of him and take him to the king of the country of Hatti; and Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti, shall have him to be taken to Ramses, the great king, the king of the country of Egypt.

If a nobleman flees from the country of Hatti, or two men, and if they don’t want to serve the king of Hatti, then Ramses has to take hold of them and order them be taken to Hattusili, the Great King, king of the land of Hatti, his brother, and he shall not allow them to reside in the country of Egypt.

If a nobleman or two flee from the country of Egypt and if they leave for the Land of Hatti, then Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti, has to take hold of them and make them be taken to Ramses, the Great King, the king of the country of Egypt, his brother.

If a man or two men who are unknown flee, and if they come to Reamasesa, to serve him, then Reamasesa has to take hold of them and deliver them into the hands of Hattusili, king of the country of Hatti.

If a man or two men who are unknown flee, and if they escape from the country of Egypt and if they don’t want to serve him, then Hattusili, the great king, the king of the country of Hatti, has to deliver them into his brother’s hands and he shall not allow them to inhabit the country of Hatti.

If a man flees from the country of Hatti, or two people, and if they flee from the country of Hatti, and if they come to the country of Egypt, and if a nobleman flees from the country of Hatti or of a city and they flee from the country of Hatti to go to the country of Egypt, then Ramses has to order them to be taken to his brother. Look, the sons of the country of Hatti and the children of the country of Egypt are at peace.

Fugitives were to be treated with dignity and returned without being punished.

If a man flees from the country of Hatti, or two men, or three men, and if they come to Ramses, the Great King, the king of the country of Egypt, his brother, then Ramses, the Great King, the king of the country of Egypt, has to take hold of them and to order them to be taken to Hattusili, his brother, since they are brothers. As for their crime, it should not be imputed; their language and their eyes are not to be pulled out; their ears and their feet are not to be cut off; their houses with their wives and their children are not to be destroyed

If a (man flees from the country of Ramses, the Great King, king of the country of Egypt), or two men, or three men, and if they come (to Hattusili, the Great King), the king of the country of Hatti, my brother, then Hattusili, the Great King, king of the country of Hatti, my brother, has to take hold of them and to order them to be taken to Ramses, the Great King, the king of the country of Egypt, because Ramses, the Great King, king of the country of Egypt, and Hattusili are brothers. As for their crime, it should not be imputed; their language and their eyes are not to be pulled out; their ears and their feet are not to cut off; their houses with their wives and their children are not to be destroyed

The gods of both lands were invoked as witnesses and guarantors of this peace in the remaining two articles, but only some of the gods were named outright, including Ra of Egypt and Teshub of Hatti:

If Ramses and the children of the country of Egypt don’t observe this treaty, then the gods and the goddesses of the country of Egypt and the gods and goddesses of the country of Hatti shall exterminate the descendants of Ramses, the Great King, the king of the country of Egypt.

If Ramses and the children of the country of Egypt observe this treaty, then the gods of the oath shall protect them ….They who observe the words that are in the silver tablet the great gods of the country of Egypt and the great gods of the country of Hatti shall allow them to live and prosper in their houses, their country and with their servants.

They who do not observe the words that are in this silver tablet, the great gods of the country of Egypt as well as the great gods of the country of Hatti will exterminate their houses, their country and their servants.

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