THE BATTLE AT LACHISH
Armies at the time had specialized corps - cavalry, archers, sappers, combat engineers, snipers, and aquatic units.
The infantry was divided into three broad units according to the weapons they used: spearmen, archers, and slingmen. All of these soldiers carried as well a long straight sword for hand-to-hand combat.
The spearmen were shock troops who led the charge in hand-to-hand fighting. They carried a shield for protection. The spearmen wore a helmet, sometimes pointed or crested. In Sennacherib's army at Lachish, the helmets used were varied, suggesting that some were 'old stock' from previous campaigns.
Shields were also varied, reflecting the question of whether it was better to have mobility (a light-weight shield) or security (a heavier shield). This was a crucial question in hand-to-hand fighting. The shields used by Sennacherib's troops seem to have been small and round, wickerwork covered with leather.
The main group of soldiers in the attack on Lachish was the archers. They had a highly advanced type of composite bow, but this of course meant that they used both hands on their weapon and could not use a shield to protect themselves. To counter this problem, the archers either wore a heavy long coat of mail, or were accompanied by a shield-bearer who protected the archer with a body-length shield.
They also had the latest weapons and strategies. There is evidence of this in one of the reliefs from the Palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh. It shows quivers, daggers, a group of composite bows tied together, shields, spears, swords and armor.
The sword was carried in a sheath over the left thigh, attached to a belt. But since this sword was long and heavy, and interfered with movement, a shoulder-strap was added.
One weapon that was used extensively at Lachish was the sling. Though it may seem a relatively unsophisticated weapon, there were cohorts of slingmen in armies of the period. They seem to have acted in pairs behind the archers - they are shown in this way on the wall reliefs of Sennacherib. They were particularly effective in attacks on a city, since they could aim their stones at a high angle up steep slopes.
The Assyrian wall friezes excavated at Nineveh show the deadly battle for Lachish. In a series of scenes
Then the aftermath:
You'll find interesting Bible Study ideas at 'Lachish: Activities'
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