Ancient War Fortifications

Fortifications are usually man made walls around the perimeter of a town intended to keep out attackers. The most famous of these is the Great Wall of China. History has shown that fortifications played a major role in ancient warfare. Fortification walls were of great use to the ancient warriors, who believed there would be many advantages if they built one. By building a fortification wall, a town was protected on al sides b a huge monolithic structure that would at the very least deter, or slow down the enemy.

Strategically speaking, fortifications gave the builder the upper hand. Attackers would have to go through great trouble in order to seize the town. First, the attackers would have to devise a plan such that the defenders will not notice their arrival. This is near impossible since many fortifications were built with towers that were literally an arrows throw of each other. In addition, the attackers would have to be prepared with either a battering ram to break down the gates and make a hole in the wall, or they would have to scale the wall itself, which is not that simple ither.

The attackers would also have to somehow manage to keep the morale of the troops high if the plan is to starve the town into submission, which can take months or even years. This task alone places the attackers at a great disadvantage. While they are starving their targets, they themselves have to find food. Usually what occurs is that the troops have to use the surrounding foliage. Eventually they have to keep going farther and farther back in order to grow food. Basically, the attackers do not have the advantage of time.

The defenders are most ikely well prepared for situations like sieges and therefore have food and supplies in stock, whereas the attackers have accumulate all the resources on the spot. Back then, feudalism was the reigning system of government, and many of the troops for te attackers were farmers with estate and families. The longer the siege, the more the troops had to be paid, and harder commanders had to work to keep their morale up. While it may seem as though the defenders were triumphant with their walls, they themselves were often betrayed by their own creation.

If their attackers came well-prepared for a siege, then they were at a real disadvantage. No amount of time can deter a determined enemy. Usually,the attackers scale the wall at a defenseless point or attack at a vulnerable time. If these two plans fail, a “starve ’em out” method is used. By doing this, attackers prevent supplies from going in or out, as well as reinforcements reaching the defenders. This also prevents the defenders performing sneak attacks as a way of harassing the outside troops.

Most importantly, a siege prevents messengers with important nformation form going in or out. As it can be seen, fortifications were used as a weapon, much like any other. It had both advantages and disadvantages for both the attacker and his target. The use fortification walls can be dated as far back as 7000 BC. Siege warfare was especially prominent in the Near East and Europe from the Neolithic period to the early Roman Empire. The fortification wall has been used since then. Several thousand years later, by the 9th century BC, the battering ram first appeared.

Fortifications were built as a response to siege equipment. Paul Bentley Kern, in his book, Ancient Siege Warfare, discussed the good fortifications made by the Greeks. However, he said that the Greek fortification could not stand up to the more advanced siege equipment of the Near East, and thus they usually employed the ‘starve into submission’ method. Although fortifications played a major role in ancient warfare, it became obsolete with the creation of the cannon. It’s mark on ancient history and the world’s landscape, has yet to diminish.