A new study in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology reconstructs how the Assyrians may have built the famous siege ramp at Lachish during Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah. Evidence at Lachish shows the ramp was made of small boulders, each about 14 lbs (6.5 kg). Using the biblical text, the Lachish Reliefs, and on-site archaeological data, the study’s authors believe close to 3 million boulders were required to build the siege ramp. They propose that the stones were quarried from an exposed cliff of local bedrock at the far end of the ramp. According to their reconstruction, the ramp was begun about 80 meters away from the walls of the city, close to the cliff where the stones were quarried. Each day close to 160,000 stones were then passed along human chains, hand-to-hand, using local prisoners of war from the local population as forced labor. They would have been protected by large shields that are depicted in Assyrian reliefs, and advanced a few meters towards the city each day. Under this scenario the siege ramp would have reached the city walls in 25 days. The Assyrian invasion of Judah during King Hezekiah’s reign is described in 2 Kings 18:9–19:37; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 36–37.
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