ORONTES RIVER
Orontes River
river, Asia
WRITTEN BY
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree....
See Article History
Alternative Title: Nahr al-ʿĀṣī
Orontes River, Arabic Nahr al-ʿĀṣī, river in southwestern Asia, draining a large part of the northern Levant into the Mediterranean Sea. From its source in Al-Biqāʿ (Bekaa) Valley of central Lebanon, the river flows northward between the parallel ranges of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains into Syria, where it has been dammed to form Lake Qaṭṭīnah. Northwest of Ḥamāh the Orontes crosses the fertile Al-Ghāb, once a swampy depression, and enters Turkey, where it bends westward and empties into the sea near Samandağı. Largely unnavigable for most of its 250-mile (400-km) length, it is nonetheless an important source of irrigation water, especially between Homs and Ḥamāh and in Al-Ghāb. Major tributaries of the Orontes include the Karasu and ʿAfrīn rivers. Homs, Ḥamāh, and the ancient Greek city of Antioch (Antakya) are the largest riparian settlements.
Orontes River
Noria on the Orontes River, Hamah, Syria.
Bernard Gagnon
Play video on original page
This article was most recently revised and updated by Noah Tesch, Associate Editor.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:
Syria: Drainage
The Orontes is the principal river of the mountainous region. It rises in Lebanon, flows northward through...…
Lebanon: Drainage
…other important rivers are the Orontes (Nahr al-ʿĀṣī), which rises in the north of Al-Biqāʿ and flows...…
Asia
Asia, the world’s largest and most diverse continent. It occupies the eastern four-fifths...…
HISTORY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Sign up here to see what happened On This Day, every day in your inbox!
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.
BATTLE OF KADESH
Home
World History
Wars, Battles & Armed Conflicts
Battle of Kadesh
Syrian history
WRITTEN BY
Michael Kerrigan
Michael Kerrigan has written many books, including volumes on Greece and the Mediterranean and Rome for the BBC Ancient Civilizations series and Ancients in their Own Words (2009). Coauthor of...
See Article History
This contribution has not yet been formally edited by Britannica. Learn More
Battle of Kadesh, (1275 BC), major battle between the Egyptians under Ramses II and the Hittites under Muwatallis, in Syria, southwest of Ḥimṣ, on the Orontes River. In one of the world’s largest chariot battles, fought beside the Orontes River, Pharaoh Ramses II sought to wrest Syria from the Hittites and recapture the Hittite-held city of Kadesh. There was a day of carnage as some 5,000 chariots charged into the fray, but no outright victor. The battle led to the world’s first recorded peace treaty.
Battle of Kadesh
Ramses II at the Battle of Kadesh, frieze at his funerary temple in Luxor, Egypt.
© Bill McKelvie/Shutterstock.com
Battle of Kadesh
QUICK FACTS
DATE
1275 BCE
LOCATION
Homs
Kadesh
Orontes River
Syria
PARTICIPANTS
ancient Egypt
Hittite
KEY PEOPLE
Muwatallis
Ramses II
Resolved to pursue the expansionist policy introduced by his father, Seti I, Ramses invaded Hittite territories in Palestine and pushed on into Syria. Near the Orontes River, his soldiers captured two men who said they were deserters from the Hittite force, which now lay some way off, outside Aleppo. This was reassuring, since the impetuous pharaoh had pushed well ahead of his main army with an advance guard of 20,000 infantry and 2,000 chariots. Unfortunately, the "deserters" were loyal agents of his enemy. Led by their High Prince, Muwatallis, the Hittites were at hand—with 40,000 foot soldiers and 3,000 chariots—and swiftly attacked. Their heavy, three-horse chariots smashed into the Egyptian vanguard, scattering its lighter chariots and the ranks behind. An easy victory seemed assured, and the Hittites dropped their guard and set about plundering their fallen enemy. Calm and determined, Ramses quickly remarshalled his men and launched a counterattack.
With their shock advantage gone, the Hittite chariots seemed slow and ungainly; the lighter Egyptian vehicles outmaneuvered them with ease. Ramses, bold and decisive, managed to pluck from the jaws of defeat if not victory, then at least an honorable draw. Both sides claimed Kadesh as a triumph, and Ramses had his temples festooned with celebratory reliefs. In truth, the outcome was inconclusive. So much so that, fifteen years later, the two sides returned to Kadesh to agree to a nonaggression pact—the first known example in history.
The biased Egyptian version of the battle was recorded on numerous temples by Ramses, but a Hittite version excavated at Boghazköy has enabled a truer assessment of the battle.
Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content.
Subscribe Now
Losses: Unknown.
Michael Kerrigan
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:
Anatolia: The Hittite empire to c. 1180 bce
…and Egyptian armies met at Kadesh about 1275 bce, and the battle that followed is one...…
epigraphy: Ancient Egypt
(The Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites in 1299 bce, which ended in a stalemate, was...…
Ramses II: Military exploits
…was the Hittite stronghold at Kadesh. Following the coastal road through Palestine and Lebanon, the...…
HISTORY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Sign up here to see what happened On This Day, every day in your inbox!
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.
HomeGeography & TravelPhysical Geography of WaterRivers & Canals