All About Ancient Assyria

The Siege of Lachish Many, many years ago there lived a king named Sennacherib. Sennacherib was the ruler of the great Assyrian empire. Every year, lands across the empire sent their best materials to the Assyrian king, such as precious metals, fine cloth, and tall straight timber.

Many lands in the west were not part of the Assyrian empire. Paying tribute meant that the Assyrian king would not threaten them with war and destruction. Soon after Sennacherib became king some kings from the west rebelled against him. When Sennacherib learnt that the kings were not paying their usual tribute, he decided to go to war. Sennacherib assembled his army and marched west from the heartland of Assyria.

The Assyrian army marched for many weeks until it reached the shores of ‘The Great Sea’.

At the sight of the huge army many of the kings offered tribute to the Assyrian king. But some of them still refused to pay tribute. One of these kings was Hezekiah, the king of Judah. He had joined the rebellion against Sennacherib. Sennacherib marched to Lachish, an important city in the kingdom of Judah. When the army arrived, they prepared to lay siege to the city.

First, the Assyrian army built camps to live in which were surrounded by walls with towers. A road ran through the centre of the camp and priests burned incense so that the gods would help the Assyrians win the battle.

The army built ramps leading up to the city so that they could transport their heavy equipment right up to the walls and gate. Then they made weapons for the attack.

More WeaponsBronze arrowheads were made using small clay moulds. The finished arrowheads were then attached to stiff reeds and placed in quivers for the archers.

Assyrian arrowheads excavated at Lachish
Assyrian arrowheads excavated at Lachish
Stones were collected and smoothed down so that they would fit into the slings.

Assyrian slingstones excavated at Lachish
Assyrian slingstones excavated at Lachish
When all the preparations were made, it was time to attack. The siege engines were pushed slowly up the ramps. The enemy troops threw burning torches from the city walls trying to set the engines on fire.But the soldiers inside each siege engine were ready. They poured water onto the battering ram so that it did not catch fire.

The archers followed the siege engines with their large bows and swift arrows.

The men with sling-stones followed, launching small, round stones into the air. They aimed at the enemy troops who stood at the top of the city walls.

Next came the spearmen with their long spears and round shields.

The men defending the city’s towers used bows and arrows and stones to keep their attackers away. After weeks of fighting, the siege ended. The people left in the city surrendered and were led out of the city gates.

They took their belongings and whatever animals they could. They would be taken by the Assyrian army to other parts of the empire where they would have to make new settlements.

The Assyrian soldiers searched through the town for valuable goods to bring to Sennacherib. Sennacherib sat on his throne, and his soldiers paraded the goods and people from the city in front of him.

Sennacherib was particularly proud of his victory. He even decorated the walls of a room in his huge palace at Nineveh with scenes of the siege and capture of Lachish.

Less than 100 years later, in 612 B.C., the Assyrian empire collapsed. Sennacherib’s palace was burnt down. You can see where the burning roof fell and damaged the reliefs.

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