WEAPONS IN ANCIENT WARFARE
A weapon is any instrument used to kill, defeat or injure an enemy. It may be a shock weapon held in the hands, or a missile. The Assyrians and Jewish people used both at Lachish.
Early weapons included
In the early part of their history, the Israelites were at a disadvantage, because the Philistine overlords did not allow them to have smelting or metal-working facilities.
This meant they could never have weapons that matched their enemy's. If they had swords, they were always inferior to the ones wielded by their adversaries, and could only be used as secondary backup weapons.
The Israelites compensated for this by developing guerrilla warfare and surprise attacks.
By the time that Lachish was attacked, however, they had weapons on a par with their enemy's. A description of some of these follows.
ANCIENT BOWS AND ARROWS
The Composite Bow
A simple bow was used in the early period of Israel's history. It had a wooden shaft ranging from three-and-a-half to seven feet in length, and was strung with a cord made of tightly twisted animal gut.
DESIGN OF THE COMPOSITE BOW
But by the time that Lachish was taken by the Assyrians, there had been a major breakthrough in the construction of bows. The tips of the arc were curled back, making the bow easier to string. But most importantly, the bow was now a composite of of four primary materials: wood, animal horn, sinew, and glue.
The wooden parts were often made up of two to four kinds of wood, each with different stretching properties.
The rear or belly of the bow was reinforced with horn; its recoil was increased by overlaying the front of the bow with sinew, applied under tension. Its structure was made up of thin wooden strips supporting the horn and sinew.
This weapons could fire an arrow up to 600 yards - although at that range it was not accurate. It was faster and stronger than the old, simple type of bow, and rapidly supplanted it.
Arrow heads excavated at the site of ancient Lachish
Archers at Lachish worked in pairs: one shot arrows from his bow,
ANCIENT SLINGS AND SLINGMEN
Assyrian slingers from the Lachish wall relief at Nimrud
This relief shows them operating in pairs. Their fire was particularly effective in an attack up a steep slope - such as the attack on the high walls of Lachish, because they could direct their stones upwards at a sharp angle.
Sling shot ammunition excavated at the site of ancient Lachish
ANCIENT JAVELINS AND SPEARS
An Assyrian king holds the point of a spear over the body of a conquered foreign king
An ancient spear was quite short, usually less than the height of the warrior who carried it.
As armor improved, spear shafts became longer, and were used by specialized troops:
The javelin was shorter and lighter than a spear, and was used for skirmishes. It might have a loop around the shaft which tied to the thrower's finger, to give spin. This made the weapon more accurate and probably increased its accuracy.
DEFENSIVE STONES AND CHAINS
Perforated stones unearthed from the debris of the ruined city of Lachish
Assyrian wall relief showing ladders being used to scale the city walls
Battle scene from the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh, circa 705-680BC
A battering ram at the centre of the image attempts to shatter part of the city's wall, but the defenders appear to have lowered chains with hooks to catch and dislodge it.
Archers in the lower right aim upwards towards them.
Sappers in the lower left work to undermine the wall's foundations.
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