Ancient Sieges

Mar 2018
588
UK
#1
The thread on archimedes got me thinking, what were ancient sieges like? Let's say around 500BC - 1AD in the Mediterranean/roman/near eastern worlds. I know some of the most famous Romans (Syracus, Carthage, Alesia) one and the Athenians at Syracuse (again), but not much besides

Were lengthy sieges to starve the defenders out the norm, or were assaults more common?
Are there instances of full strength armies hiding in the city, or was it commonly just the local garrison/militia?
How often did the attackers win, or did they lose to the defenders, or to a relief army, or did they abandon the siege?
How much of "force multiplier" was occupying walls? Did you need 2:1 superiority to win the assault, or much higher?

Obviously, the answer to all these questions are complex and depend on a number of factors, I'm keen to understand those too
 
Oct 2015
716
Virginia
#2
There were any number of siege operations undertaken by Phillip (Cassandria), Alexander (Halicarnassus, Gaza, Tyre) and the diadochi ( Rhodes , Bactria et al). Successful sieges were rare in earlier times. Walls generally stymied Greek city states and Persians, who usually tried to starve out fortified towns. It was the Macedonians who developed ramps, rams, mantlets, siege towers, catapults and ballistas, and mining to a fine art, and the Romans went even further.

A full army rarely took refuge in a fortress as they would quickly eat up all the provisions.
The idea was to get close enough to the walls using mantlets, entrenchment and ramps to allow artillery or rams to make a breach in the walls; then make an assault.

While the siege corps was doing its thing, the rest of tge army had to stand by to oppose any relief force.
 
Likes: Olleus

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