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date: 25 November 2020

siegecraft, Romanlocked

  • Jonathan Coulston

Extract

Early Roman besiegers employed blockade (obsidio) with methodical circumvallation, exploited surprise, and sometimes, especially after weakening the besiegers by obsidio, clinched matters by assault (oppugnatio), using ladders (scalae) and possibly ramps (aggeres) and rams (arietes). *Veii, blockaded 405–396 bce, apparently fell to assault by mine (cuniculus).From the 3rd cent. bce, the Romans assimilated and improved the machinery and techniques of Hellenistic siegecraft, and continued to use elaborate fieldworks. Accounts of the sieges of *Syracuse by M. *Claudius Marcellus (1), of *Piraeus by *Sulla, and those of the Gallic, Jewish, Sasanid, and Gothic wars are instructive, as are the surviving technical treatises. Equipment included bolt-shooting and stone-throwing *artillery, mobile towers, mechanical ladders, movable siege-sheds and rams, protective galleries, mobile screens, wall-borers, and hooks and crowbars for dislodging masonry (cf. *Vitruvius, *Vegetius).

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