Jump to content

[Research Task] Bronze Siege Warfare


Recommended Posts

It is clear that the Egyptians did posses the means to conduct siege warfare, though in reality, like other powers in the region such as the Assyrian, they tried to avoid this type of battle where possible. They preferred, rather, to force a military decision on the battlefield. However, with the large number of fortified cities throughout Palestine and Canaan, they were forced to employ siege warfare at times, though they were probably less adapt at this form of battle then some of their neighbors.

Source : http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/siegewarfare.htm#ixzz32AQJOLIA

In Tuthmosis III's 1482 BC campaign against Megiddo, there were actually two separate sieges. Even as Tuthmosis III approached the initial battlefield at Megiddo, the king sent his general Djehuty to place Jaffa under siege, apparently feeling that this city posed a threat to either his line of communications or possible retreat. Like the siege of Megiddo, we have written evidence of how Djehuty took Jaffa, by a an unusual trick that would perhaps later be the origin of a number of tales.

In this story, called "The Taking of Joppa," we meet with what is unquestionably the original source of the leading incident in the familiar story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." Djehuty conceals two hundred of his soldiers in two hundred big sacks, fills three hundred other sacks with cords and fetters and loads five hundred other soldiers in these sacks, and sends them into the city in the character of captives. Once inside the gates, the bearers liberate and arm their comrades, take the place, and make all the inhabitants prisoners.

It is almost certain that Djehuty was sent by Tuthmosis III to capture Jappa, but it should be noted that many scholars doubt the validity of this story, feeling that it is pure fable rather than actual fact.

The Siege of Megiddo

Megiddo was for thousands of years an important city that controlled the east-west traffic from its position on the plain of Esdraelon. Trade had to pass through its realm of influence in order to travel from the plains of Canaan to the Lake of Tiberias region and the north-south routes between Akka dn the Beth Shean area. As such, the city was correspondingly large in area.

Sometime prior to Tuthmosis' siege of Megiddo, the city had walls build of brick with a thickness of up to ten meters and of considerable height. However, by the time of Tuthmosis attack, the city had declined to some extent, and had walls of only about five meters in thickness, that were correspondingly smaller in height. Most Canaanite cities had only one gate, which had to be wide enough for the passage of chariots and carts.

Like most Canaanite city states, Megiddo depended on wells for water, which were usually located at the foot of the tell, or mound upon which the city was built. Hence, this water supply lay outside the walls of the city. Therefore, tunnels would be excavated to the wells from within the city gates, and the wells would be covered and hidden.

The inhabitants of Canaanite cities depended upon wells for their water supply. These were generally at the foot of the growing tells, and thus outside the city walls. The wells were consequently often covered up and tunnels were excavated to make them accessible from the city interior. Therefore, water would probably not have been a problem for the inhabitants of Megiddo during its siege by Tuthmosis III, but food was wood have been given a period of prolonged siege.

During the battle of Megiddo the city gate was barred and the walls were manned. When the fleeing charioteers reached the city, the defenders refused to open the gate, preventing the pursuing Egyptian chariotry from gaining access. The Canaanites had to abandon their chariots and were pulled up the city walls. The Egyptian chronicler thought that "if only the army of his majesty had not given their heart to plundering the things of the enemy, they would have captured Megiddo at this moment". However, this may have been an incorrect assumption on their part. How many additional defenders could have been pulled up over the walls is questionable, and it is clear that the city's guard did not panic. Hence, there is no clear indication that an immediate attack on the city would have resulted in any immediate victory for the Egyptians, even in the ensuing confusion of the field battle's aftermath.

However, the city's capture was paramount, though no immediate attack was deemed necessary:

Then spake his majesty on hearing the words of his army, saying: "Had ye captured this city afterward, behold, I would have given Re this day; because every chief of every country that has revolted is within it; and because it is the capture of a thousand cities, this capture of Megiddo. Capture ye mightily, mightily."

James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part II 432

The Egyptians prepared for a prolonged siege. Most Canaanite leaders were either captured, killed on the battlefield, or managed to escape into Megiddo. Many of the regional leaders had joined the Egyptian opposition, and thus the land was left without its rulers, so the Egyptian forces were not worried about outside intervention during a long siege. No help would come to save the city, and it was just a matter of time until the food reserves of the beleaguered defenders were exhausted.

His majesty commanded the officers of the troops to go, assigning to each his place. They measured this city, surrounding it with an enclosure, walled about with green timber of all their pleasant trees. His majesty himself was upon the fortification east of this city, inspecting. It was walled about with its thick wall. Its name was made: "Menkheperre Thutmose III-is-the-Surrounder-of-the-Asiatics." People were stationed to watch over the tent of his majesty; to whom it was said: "Steady of heart! Watch." His majesty commanded, saying: "Let not one among them come forth outside, beyond this wall, except to come out in order to knock at the other door of their fortification." Now, all that his majesty did to this city, to that wretched foe and his wretched army, was recorded on each day by its the day's name. Then it was recorded upon a roll of leather in the temple of Amon this day.

James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part II 433

After seven months of siege the Canaanites surrendered, and the whole region came under the nominal control of Egypt. However, Tuthmosis III, as was not uncustomary, allowed the local kings to continue to rule the region in his name throughout much of the the New Kingdom.

Behold, the chiefs of this country came to render their portions, to do obeisance to the fame of his majesty, to crave breath for their nostrils, because of the greatness of his power, because of the might of the fame of his majesty the country came to his fame, bearing their gifts, consisting of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, malachite; bringing clean grain, wine, large cattle, and small cattle for the army of his majesty. Each of the Kode among them bore the tribute southward. Behold, his majesty appointed the chiefs anew.

James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part II 434

In fact, Tuthmosis III probably had no real desire to rule these foreigners. Rather, he sought to create a buffer zone as a defense against Asiatic attacks of Egypt, and to control the wealth of trade that passed through that region.

Read more: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/siegewarfare.htm#ixzz32ARxPwKl

Edited by Lion.Kanzen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best part.

By the time the Nubians made their incursions into Egypt, around 715 BC, walls, siege tactics and equipment had undergone changes, mostly influenced by developments in the Asiatic East. Early shelters protecting sappers armed with poles trying to breach mud-brick ramparts gave way to battering rams.

Enclosures were still erected, preventing surprise attacks, but raised platforms from which the town could be showered with missiles, which decreased the advantage the defenders had on their tall ramparts as we find from Piye's siege of Hermopolis in Egypt:

Behold, [he] besieges Heracleopolis, he has completely invested it, not letting comers-out come out, and not letting goers-in go in, fighting every day. He measured it off in its whole circuit, every prince knows his wall; he stations every man of the princes and rulers of walled towns over his respective portion.

The Piankhi Stela James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part IV 818

Then they fought against Tetehen, great in might. They found it filled with soldiers, with every valiant man of the Northland. Then the battering-ram was employed against it, its wall was overthrown, and a great slaughter was made among them. of unknown number; also the son of the chief of Me, Tefnakhte. Then they sent to his majesty concerning it, (but) his heart was not satisfied therewith.

The Piankhi Stela James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part IV 838

He set up for himself the camp on the southwest of Hermopolis (Hmnw) and besieged it daily. An embankment was made, to inclose the wall; a tower was raised to elevate the archers while shooting, and the slingers while slinging stones, and slaying people among them daily.

The Piankhi Stela James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents. (Chicago: 1906), Part IV 842

While some of the Lower Egyptian towns were besieged, Piye decided against this in the case of Memphis after Tefnakht had gone north to raise troops for the defense of the city. The building of a causeway was proposed, as was the erection of siege towers, but Piye took advantage of the fact that the harbor was not as well defended nor the river wall as well manned as the huge ramparts facing north. The ships captured, he seems to have used them for scaling the city wall facing the Nile.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...