Army divisions used by Pharaoh Ramesses II during the Battle of Kadesh

During the Battle of Kadesh in the 13th century BC, Pharaoh Ramesses II of Egypt led a substantial army against the Hittite Empire who were led by King Muwatalli II. Ramesses’ army was divided into four main divisions, each named after a prominent deity in the Egyptian pantheon. They were: Amun, Re (pRe), Set, and Ptah division.

Use of chariots was very common on both sides during the Battle of Kadesh in the 13th century BC. Image: The original relief from the Ramesseum

Amun Division

The Amun Division was likely one of the most significant and prestigious divisions of the Egyptian army. The god Amun was a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, associated with kingship and divine power. The inclusion of the name “Amun” in the division’s title emphasized the divine support and blessing sought for the success of the Egyptian forces.

Re Division

The name “Re” refers to the sun god in ancient Egyptian religion. As the sun god, Re was associated with light, heat, and creation, and was considered one of the most powerful and important gods in the Egyptian pantheon. Naming a division after Re likely symbolized the hope for the sun god’s protection and divine favor during the battle.

Set Division

The Set Division was named after the god Set (Seth), who was known for his association with chaos and warfare in Egyptian mythology. Set was often depicted as a formidable warrior, and naming a division after him could be interpreted as invoking his fierce and aggressive attributes to inspire the soldiers’ fighting spirit.

Read More: Conflict between Horus and Seth for the throne of Egypt

Ptah Division

The Ptah Division was named after the god Ptah, who was the patron deity of Memphis, a prominent city in ancient Egypt. Ptah was associated with craftsmanship and creation and was considered a protector of artists and artisans. The inclusion of the Ptah Division might have emphasized the importance of skilled craftsmen and the need for logistical support for the Egyptian army during the campaign.


These four divisions reflected the religious and symbolic significance the ancient Egyptians attached to their military endeavors. The naming of divisions after deities demonstrated the pharaoh’s connection to the gods and highlighted the divine support sought for success in battle.

By invoking the names of powerful gods in their army divisions, Ramesses II aimed to boost the morale of his troops and inspire confidence in their ability to secure victory at the Battle of Kadesh.

Ramesses II

The Battle of Kadesh was a stalemate and far from a splendid victory like the way Ramses II portrayed it. Image: Depiction of Ramesses II slaying one enemy while trampling another, from a rock-cut relief at Abu Simbel

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