The victors write the history. History has many tales of the powerful elite, we hear of the kings, emperors, sultans etc but hardly ever of the ordinary people. In many cases in history the truth has been covered up my rulers and governments. In this post I will give several examples from history when populations have been deceived.
Relief of Ramesses on a chariat at the Battle of Kadesh
Ramesses the Great and the battle of Kedesh
Throughout the long history of Ancient Egypt there were many great pharaohs who built monuments of spectacular scale and beauty, but no pharaoh could claim to be as great as Ramesses, or so the monuments say. I say this because of all the pharaohs, Ramesses the Great built more than any other. The city of Pi Ramesses, the Ramesseam and Abu Simbel among many others. The cartouches of the ruler are displayed in many temples, even on temples which were not constructed by himself. The temple of Abu Simbel shows how the ruler wanted to be perceived, several gigantic statues of himself in the entrance to the temple show that he wanted to be perceived as a living god. He is also known for his many military campaigns against the Libyans and Hittites. The Hittite Empire controlled most of Turkey and parts of Syria, early in his reign Ramesses defeated them in several battles in Syria. However the Hittites responded quickly and Ramesses was forced to battle at Kedesh. This famous battle, probably the earliest in recorded history, began when the Egyptian forces were ambushed by the Hittites. Despite heavy losses to both sides, the battle was fought to a stalemate. It was considered a victory however by Ramesess who miraculously managed to hold out. He commemorated what he considered as a ‘victory’ at Abydos, Karnak, Luxor and Abu Simbel. At Luxor, reliefs are shown of the pharaoh slaughtering the enemy single-handedly. This early evidence of propaganda was well placed for the world to see. Even though the battle was a stalemate and the territory around Kadesh was not conquered, the reliefs show otherwise.
Augusto Pinochet was an army general and dictator of Chile from 1973- 1990. He took control of the country in a coup d’etat following the death of Salvador Allende. During his rule he used the army to control and eliminate rivals. Thousands of political opponents are thought to have been killed during his rule. Some were sent to camps, others shot, burnt, tortured and apparently Pinochet’s henchmen are even reported to have thrown pregnant women out of planes. This military dictatorship struck fear into the general populace and even today their are mothers seeking to find the remains of their sons. It was not until 1990 that Pinochet left the presidency in favour of a democratically elected president. There were obviously many of his supporters especially within the military, who grieved when he died in 2006, to the countless others; parents of victims of his regime justice will not unfortunately prevail.
Today Chileans are taught to turn the page of history and forget what happened This is in my opinion a bad move as those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
These two brief examples from history are important as the one shows how propaganda has been used for millennium, while the more recent shows how even today we are in danger of forgetting our own history.
Author: Jeremy Hallatt