Manual Besieged: An Encyclopedia of Great Sieges From Ancient Times To The Present

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It was, however, deserted soon after its conquest by the early Sasanians, who had broken the power of Hatra.

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Ammianus Marcellinus Ross in and The first to measure the site and to survey and record the ruins was Walter Andrae of the German excavation team working in Assur from to Systematic excavations have been undertaken only from by Iraqi archeologists, first concentrating on the Great Temple. Beyer, p. Hatra acc. Hatram in Ammianus loc. Miller, fig.

There is no reliable evidence concerning Hatra from pre-Parthian times. Some scholars have assumed that a settlement was founded there in the Assyrian or, at the latest, Achaemenid times, but that is merely conjecture due to the lack of any reliable evidence. Hatra seems to have been the seat of a local dynasty since the 1st century C.

Its location in the Parthian-Roman border zone on the important caravan routes linking the east to Syria and Anatolia, as well as its connection with the Roman network of roads, enabled the city and its dynasts to increase their power consistently. Thus, Hatra at that time may have been one of the eighteen kingdoms within the Parthian Empire, which are mentioned by Pliny Naturalis historia 6. The light of history falls on this important fortified trading and caravan city for the first time in the year C. Trajan, who had planned to extend the Roman frontier up to the river Tigris, marched southwards along the river Euphrates, capturing great parts of Babylonia up to the Persian Gulf and even Ctesiphon q.

On his retreat from there he attacked the Hatrenes who had joined the revolt against the emperor in vain Dio Cassius, His siege engines were burned, and many of his soldiers fell or were wounded by Hatrene archers; the position of the city, its strong walls, and the strength of its warriors eventually forced the emperor to withdraw Dio Cassius, In the opinion of Y. Yadin, Joshua sought to lull the suspicions and ease the tension of the defenders till he could launch a sudden attack with success.

At Ai Josh , the Israelites succeeded in luring the enemy out of the city by a ruse. Later, David captured Jerusalem by penetrating secretly through an underground water conduit 2 Sam , 8. Often armies were split into several parts usually three to achieve surprise or to provide a ruse cf. Judg ; and also 1 Sam ; ; 2 Sam In the period of the settlement, the Israelites had to withstand the attacks of various nomad tribes, esp. Warfare against these peoples was conducted in the same manner as before, that is, by means of small and maneuverable units Heb.

Using these same tactics combined small attacks and opposing the enemy in open array , the Israelites succeeded, at least at first, in standing up to their bitterest rivals, the Philistines. It is in this context that we learn of another form of war, that is, the personal duel between two opposing warriors, as in the case of David and Goliath 1 Sam 17 ; cf.

Upon the death of Saul and Jonathan his son, it became obvious that new tactics were called for. The danger presented by the Philistines was the main impetus for the union of the Israelite tribes into a single kingdom to enable successful resistance. Only political unity could bring about a standing well-trained and equipped army see Army. The army organized by David, under the skilled leadership of Joab, soon enabled the Israelites to achieve the upper hand over the other small states surrounding. David consolidated the borders of his kingdom and even considerably expanded them.

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Actually, there was never a day of peace throughout his reign. Most interesting are the detailed chs. Joab soon found himself in the midst of the enemy, and in a very characteristic way he brought in the Israelite militia which, alongside his small standing army, defeated the Arameans and then turned to besiege the capital of Ammon.

The great victories of the Israelite army in the days of David, however, and the expansion into most of Syria, can be explained only by the fact that by this time the great empires no longer were able to control this region. The period of the Israelite monarchies. In the first stages of this period, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, at first rivals, but who later came to conduct combined operations against their common enemies, esp. Already in the mid-9th cent. From b. Babylonia, her powerful heir, completed this task. The Arameans, their soldiers and weapons, are well known to us from reliefs discovered at Tell Halaf Biblical Gozan , Carchemish, Malatya and other sites.

They were fully as strong as the armies of Israel and Judah, and the struggle between them was long-lived. The character of these wars is known from 1 Kings 20 , which contains extensive details. Benhadad, king of Aram-Damascus, at the head of a league of thirty-two vassal kings came to Succoth on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, opposite Samaria.

When he sent messengers demanding that the Israelites surrender, King Ahab outrightly refused. Ben-hadad, confident in the superior strength of his forces, ordered them to cross the river and besiege the city of Samaria. Rather than waiting for the enemy in Samaria, Ahab gathered his troops about and ambushed the Arameans while they were still on the march, thoroughly routing them.

This method of ambushing, in narrow mountain defiles by large, well-equipped forces, takes maximum advantage of the difficulties encountered by anyone attempting to penetrate into the hills of Samaria or the Judean mountains; it became one of the standard methods of warfare among the Israelites down to the fall of the kingdoms. A similar battle was conducted between Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and a combined Moabite-Ammonite force which was making for Jerusalem the Judean Desert 2 Chron It was even more characteristic during the Hel.

The maneuver is typical of guerrilla warfare and enables small forces to achieve the upper hand over numerically superior armies. Siege warfare. The battles against the Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites occurred in the open, but not so the wars fought against the mighty armies of Assyria and Babylonia. In the initial clash in the mid-9th cent. But a hundred years later when the Assyrians approached, the petty kingdoms were unable to unite, and the war degenerated into mere defensive actions, centered upon fortified cities, while the Assyrians were in complete control of the countryside.

The methods of fighting based on fortified cities are well known from excavations and from Egyptian and Assyrian reliefs, in which this subject was quite popular. Remains of city fortifications, including walls and gates, have been exposed at most of the excavated sites of the Israelite period in Pal. Moreover, systematic study has clarified the development of siege tactics in this period. The main problem in preparing a city to withstand a siege, besides the construction of the fortifications, was to provide for an adequate source of water within the city walls.

This was achieved either by digging vast cisterns for storing quantities of rain water, or by diverting water sources beneath the ground to within the fortified area, concealing any original opening outside. Several such water systems have been discovered, mainly dating from the period of the Israelite kingdoms at Hazor, Megiddo, Ibleam, Gezer, Gibeon, Jerusalem, Arad and Beersheba. The famous Siloam tunnel inscr. In much later times, extensive water systems were built by Herod to bring huge quantities of water into the same city; similar projects by this king included enormous cisterns constructed at Masada, Herodium and Machaerus.

The methods of pressing siege in the ancient Near E were many and varied.

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We have already noted various ruses employed by the Israelites against Canaanite cities. The Egyptian and Assyrian reliefs reveal even more: scaling walls by means of ladders; breaching walls with battering rams; breaking down gates with axes and fire; and mining beneath walls.

Often several methods were employed simultaneously. The Assyrians were depicted as slaying prisoners beneath the very eyes of the besieged, so as to weaken their morale. If a city resisted all these measures, the attackers had to fall back upon the difficult pursuit of an extended siege, cutting off the inhabitants of the city from all supplies, and making continuous attacks upon the walls at various locations until a weak spot was found or until the city gave in.

After the appearance of the great imperial armies in Pal. These dastardly dealings with the inhabitants of Judah would not go unpunished. The following is a lengthy, but necessary, quote from that chapter:. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword.

Then they shall know that I am the Lord. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you.

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He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached.

With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more.

Several aspects of this prophecy deserve attention and close scrutiny. The length of the siege was due, in part, to the unusual arrangement of the mainland city and the island city. While the mainland city would have been susceptible to ordinary siege tactics, the island city would have been easily defended against orthodox siege methods Fleming, p. The city of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, who did major damage to the mainland as Ezekiel predicted, but the island city remained primarily unaffected.

After a closer look at the text, however, such an interpretation is misguided. Till and others fail to see this shift and mistakenly apply the utter destruction of Tyre to the efforts of Nebuchadnezzar. Fleming, p. In B. Sixty years later, in , Alexander the Great besieged Tyre and crushed it see below for further elaboration.

Soon after this defeat, Ptolemy of Egypt conquered and subjugated Tyre until about B. By B. But that situation was soon to be altered. Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who lived from approximately B. In his dealings with Tyre, Alexander asserted that he wished to make a personal sacrifice in the temple of Heracles on the island city of Tyre. Apparently, because the Tyrians considered their island refuge virtually impregnable, with war machines covering the walls, and rapidly moving water acting as an effective barrier from land attack, they refused his request.

Upon receiving their refusal, Alexander immediately set to work on a plan to besiege and conquer the city. This unprecedented action took the Tyrians by complete surprise.

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The mainland city was demolished and all her stones, timber, and soil were thrown into the midst of the sea. They continued to maintain supremacy on the sea, and harassed his workers from all sides from boats that were equipped with catapults, slingers, and archers. But Alexander was not to be outdone. Yet, when the construction of the bridge was nearing completion, a storm damaged a large section of the mole.

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Refusing to quit, Alexander rebuilt the damaged structure and continued to move forward.