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519Siege Towers

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  • James Mathews
    Feb 21, 2014
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      >>>> Siege Towers <<<<

      Roman Siege Tower With Drawbridge --

      None of the historical accounts of Roman siege towers actually describes the machines, except occasionally  to record the height.  However, the late Roman writer Vegetius preserves a description of a tower that he perhaps borrowed from a lost work of the late--1st Century AD.  Within the tower three distinct levels are specified: the lower level hosing a battering am; the intermediate level, supporting a boarding bridge; and the upper level, accommodating missile troops.

      Of course, the number of storeys would have depended on the desired height of the tower.  Vespasian employed iron-clad towers rising 50 ft (c. 15 m) in the siege of Jotapata in AD 67; individual iron plates were nailed onto the boarding .  By contrast vegetius recommends  a protective mattress of rawhide stuffed with rags.  Of the two types of boarding -- bridge that he mentions, the sambuca-style drawbridge, he says was lowered by ropes and pulleys from a beam that was fixed to the rear of the tower.  This is the only one of a number of guesses  that are necessary: similarly the disposition of the wheels, design of the battering ram framework, and the method of climbing from one storey to the next are all uncertain.

      This above description will be followed by three photos of a model of a siege tower, that I have built for my siege machinery collection.


      Duncan B. Campbell, “Greek and Roman Siege Machinery, 399 BC -- AD 363,” (Osprey, 2003).

      Respectfully Submitted;

      Marcus Audens