Like the sea herself, the history of naval warfare is vast and deep, spanning hundreds of battles stretching back more than 3,000 years. The avid time traveler among such a bountiful heritage can spend hours musing over which was the largest naval battle, which was the most important, which was the most decisive—but what about: Which was the oldest?
As far as being the first noted in history’s annals, the honor goes to the Battle(s) of Alashiya, a trio of engagements culminating ca. 1210–1205 BC with the defeat of the Cypriots by the Hittite fleet. But it’s just a bare-bones mention (part of a Hittite burial-chamber inscription listing victories and conquests), akin to a headline without a story.
Hieroglyphic inscriptions of Medinet Habu, James Henry Breasted, trans., Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents, Volume IV—the Twentieth to the Twenty-Sixth Dynasties (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1906), 38–39.
Peter A. Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: Thames & Hudson, 1994, 2006), 161–63.
Trude Dothan and Moshe Dothan, People of the Sea: The Search for the Philistines (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 14–22.
O. R. Gurney, The Hittites (New York: Penguin, revised ed. 1990), 38.
Barbara Mertz, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs (New York: Coward-McCann, 1964), 295–97.