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Judean captives being led away into slavery by the Assyrians after the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C. This relief is important for the knowledge of Judean dress.

Assyrian siege ramp.

The siege of Lachish is the name given to the Assyrian siege and conquest of the Judean town of Lachish in 701 BCE[1] The siege is documented in several sources including the Hebrew Bible as well as in Assyrian documents and in the Lachish relief, a well-preserved series of reliefs which once decorated the Assyrian king Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.[2]

The siege

The city was captured by the Assyrians, its inhabitants led into captivity and the leaders of Lachish tortured to death. The town was abandoned, but resettled after the return from Babylonia.

Babylonian reliefs portraying the siege of Lachish clearly show battering rams attacking the vulnerable parts of the city.[3]

The siege and capture of the Judaean town of Lachish, one of the fortress towns protecting the approaches to Jerusalem, is unique in that it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (II Kings 18; II Chronicles 32) and in the Annals of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Not only that but the event is depicted on the walls of Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh.[4]

The British Museum has a superb set of relief carvings which depicted the siege in some detail. It shows the Assyrian soldiers firing arrows, and slingstones, and approaching the walls of lachish using mudbrick ramps. The attackers shelter behind wicker shields, and deploy battering rams. The walls and towers of Lachish are shown crowded with defenders shooting arrows, throwing rocks and torches on the heads of the attackers.

The reliefs continues showing the looting of the city, and defenders are shown being thrown over the ramparts, impaled, having their throats cut and asking for mercy. A birds eye plan of the City is shown with house interiors shown in section.

Cultural references

  • The Siege of Lachish is the subject of an eponymous song (and single) by mediterranean metal band Melechesh.

See also


  1. [1]
  2. The Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible - Page 566 by Geoffrey Wigoder
  3. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible - Page 157 by David Noel Freedman
  4. The Siege of Lachish

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