The history of war is never far removed from battles for cities.
Many of us, of whatever creed, were brought up on the story of the walls of Jericho tumbling after the Israelites marched around the stronghold once a day for six days, seven times on the seventh day, and then blew their trumpets. Though no archaeological evidence at Tell es-Sultan, in modern Palestine, corroborates the arresting visual image related in Joshua, Chapter 6, diggers have uncovered a range of defensive stone and brick walls dating back to 8,000 BC. It indicates that even 10,000 years ago, the ancients indulged in the odd siege when the mood took them. The biblical story also introduces us to the concept of intimidation, today fashionably called “psychological warfare”.
The much younger fortress of Troy provides insights into another city-focussed era of battles. Beneath today’s Hisarlik in northern Turkey are nine archaeological layers. Troy VIII was the alluring city of Classical and Hellenistic times, as portrayed in the Iliad, Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid. The Romans took the lessons of Homeric Troy seriously and clad all their major settlements with defensive walls, as any exploration of Canterbury, Chester or York will confirm. These acted as magnets for opponents, as in Boudicca’s revolt of AD 60–61. Cities such as Colchester, London and St Albans were sacked, as much for what they represented as for their physical presence.
*Highly recommend Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin by Antony Beevor for Further Reading and Study on this Subject.