Main Gate, Tel Lachish

Main Gate, Tel Lachish. By Wilson44691 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In the March/April BAR, David Ussishkin reported on the Assyrian siege ramp and the Judean counter ramp that he excavated at Lachish (see “Defensive Judean Counter-Ramp Found at Lachish in 1983 Season,” BAR 10-02). His report, together with the review of his book on the Assyrian siege of Lachish, extensively illustrated with reliefs from Sennacherib’s palace and photos of excavated finds, provides an unusual account of siege warfare in ancient times.

The elements of this warfare were all displayed with dramatic intensity- the arrows and the helmets, and the scale armor to counter the arrows’ thrusts, the battering ram and the firebrands thrown from the walls by the defenders to burn the ram, and, to counter this, the water the attackers poured on the ram, and the Assyrian siege ramp countered by a Judean ramp. There was one find, however, that Ussishkin could not explain—four links of a metal chain uncovered amid the destruction debris in front of the city wall where the Assyrian attack had been most intense.

This is how Ussishkin described the discovery-

“A rather unusual find was an iron chain about 37 cm long, composed of four long, narrow links, each about 10 cm long. The chain was found lying in the burned debris in front of the revetment wall. This chain must have served some function in the battle, but we do not know what it was.”

Read the rest of The Mystery of the Unexplained Chain in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.