The Siege Engine   Leave a comment


A few weeks ago I watched the epic war movie Kingdom Of Heaven.  It is a Ridley Scott directed film set during the Crusades of the 12th century.  A French village blacksmith goes to aid the city of Jerusalem in its defense against the Muslim leader Saladin, who is battling to reclaim the city from the Christians leading to the Battle of Hattin.






The battle scenes are mesmerizing and extremely powerful.  One major aspect of the battle scenes are the giant Siege Engines used by the Muslims to breach the walls of Jerusalem.  These are audacious engineering devices that make the battlefield appear to have crawling giants edging towards the massive walls of the city.



Siege Engines inching towards the walls to the left.


A siege engine was designed to break or circumvent city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare.  The first two rulers to make use of siege engines to a large extent were Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. Their large engines spurred an evolution that led to impressive machines, like the Demetrius Poliorcetes’ Helepolis (or “Taker of Cities”) of 304 BCE: nine storeys high and plated with iron, it stood 40 m (125 ft) tall and 21 m (60 ft) wide, weighing 180 t (360,000 lb).


In the film Kingdom Of Heaven the Crusaders bring down the siege engines by firing massive catapult powered spears into the sides of the engines.  Very thick rope is attached to the spears.  When the spears are embedded in the side of the engine they are pulled back by a sophisticated pulley system.  This topples the siege engines as shown below.




Other examples of Siege Engines






Giant catapults firing incendiary bombs was also a major weapon system used during a siege.




Posted October 13, 2011 by markosun in Uncategorized

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