FORTIFICATION: THE WALLS
A famous segment of the Assyrian wall reliefs.
Judah was a prime target for invading armies from the north-west (Assyria) and south (Egypt). To defend themselves, Judean cities built substantial walls.
Invaders responded by developing tactics and devices to surmount the walls. Battering rams and ladders as long as 30ft. were used.
In the assault on Lachish, all methods of attack were used at the same time, together with sustained archery fire.
The walls of Lachish as they appear today
Reconstruction of the 1,900 BC fortified walls at Buhen, modern Sudan
THE CASEMATE WALL
The 'casemate wall' was a double wall connected by internal partition walls that divided the space in between them into square compartments, `casemates'. These might be filled with rubble or earth, giving the walls considerable extra strength. They were designed to lessen the effects of the sappers, whose task it was to undermine and weaken the walls.
The flat surface of the top of the casemate also gave the defenders a much wider battlement area than the narrow single wall. Finally, the width of these walls created a new secure zone for the defenders, since it was virtually impossible for the invader to aim missiles accurately.
This reconstruction of the city walls of Nineveh is similar
Many strong fortifications had solid curtain walls built in segments that protruded and regressed in turn.
If the battlements were crowned by galleries, as depicted on the Lachish reliefs from Assyria, the protruding and regressing wall segments permitted some kind of enfilade. In other words, archers on the galleries could shoot parallel to the wall and cover its approaches, complementing the enfilading 'fire' of the towers.
The main drawback in any type of fortification is the lack of flexibility. Fortifications are there in the open, clearly visible to the enemy.
To minimize the tactical handicap, the following devices were applied, one or more together:
These devices, found at Lachish, had the joint purpose of stopping the hostile assault before it reached the walls and while it was still within firing distance of bow and sling, and protecting the base of the walls from the sappers.
Among the major components of all major fortifications were the towers that protruded from the curtains and dominated their battlements. These are clearly visible in the wall reliefs of Lachish, and parts of them still remain at the site of the ancient city.
The top of a stone pillar, part of the walls of ancient Lachish
When at the climax of any siege the defenders on the battlements were unable to hit the enemy at the foot of the walls without exposing themselves dangerously to the attackers' missiles, the men posted on the towers could shoot along the walls from relatively secure positions.
Detail of 'The Triumph of Achilles'.
Other Online Bible Websites
Study famous and historical people, places, artwork and archaelogy of the Holy Bible online.
For more online Bible study resources and activities, visit the following websites:
www.bible-people.info - stories of the Bible's most famous men and women - Moses, Judas, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene and more
www.womeninthebible.net - all about Bible women, good and bad: Ruth, Deborah, Mary of Nazareth, Jezebel
www.bible-archaeology.info - archaeological evidence and the Bible - what can we prove?
http://www.bible-art.info/ - Bible paintings and artworks: Nativity, Resurrection, Esther, Martha and Mary
http://www.bible-topten.com/ - Top Ten heroes, bad women, ways to hell, young people, villains, murders, films
http://www.bible-architecture.info/ - more about houses, palaces, temples and fortresses
To search through all websites click HERE »