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If an immediate attack by filling up the trenches, beating in the gates, and scaling the walls failed or promised to be useless, the siege was carried on partly by blockade, partly by attack in form. In the first case the besiegers were content with surrounding the town with an inner and outer wall. The latter was intended as a protection against attack on the part of a relieving force. The besiegers then waited till the besieged were forced to capitulate. In other cases they attempted to make a breach in the wall with a battering ram (fig. 1); to undermine the wall, and so overthrow it; to make a way under by mines into the city; or to raise a mound level with the wall, and so get to the top. The process of undermining the walls was carried on by soldiers, who tore up the foundations with the aid of various mining tools. This was done under the protection of the testudo, a wooden erection in the form of a slanting desk. This was carried by hand or wheeled close up to the wall with its open front towards it. Like all machines of the kind, it was provided on the top and sides with wet skins or cushions as a protection against fire thrown down upon it. Chelone (Gr.) or testudo (Lat.) was the general name for all kinds of sheds of the sort. The name was, e.g., given to the penthouse of shields formed by the soldiers during the storming of a hostile fortification (fig. 2). The second and following ranks held their shields in a slanting position over their heads; the first rank and the men in the wings held them straight up in front of them. In case of mining, properly so called, the mining-hut (musculus) was employed: a long and narrow structure, pushed up in the same way on wheels close under the walls. A shed or penthouse, 22-26 feet in length and breadth, with a slanting roof extending to the ground, served to give protection to the workmen employed in levelling the ground, and filling up the trenches for the approach of the engines. The mound (Lat. agger; Gr. choma) was directed straight from the surrounding wall to the most suitable part of the besieged fortifications. It rose by a gradual ascent to the top of the latter. It was made of earth and fascines, held together at the side by wooden scaffolding or stone walls. The soldiers who worked at it were protected by plutei, semicircular coverings of wickerwork, moving forward on three wheels, or by vineoe. These were light scaffolding, 10 ft. broad and double as long, with a flat or double roof of boards or wickerwork, and covered with the same on three sides. Partly upon the mound, partly on one side of it, were erected these wooden movable towers (Lat. turres ambulatoriae; Gr. hypotrchoi), which were brought up on wheels or rollers to the walls. Their height depended on that of the wall and on their position on the level or on the mound; the average was 88-196 ft., containing from ten to twenty stories. These towers generally served as batteries, the upper stages being armed with artillery. Besides this, archers and slingers would be posted on the outer galleries of the different stories, which were protected by breastworks. Sappers would be lodged in the lower stories. On the level of the wall bridges (sambucae) were provided. A crane (tolleno) was used to hoist single soldiers to the top of the wall. This was a machine like the bucket of a well, fitted at the end with a basket or box. The besieged, in their turn, had various contrivances against these weapons of attack. Two-pronged forks to turn over the scaling ladders, cranes with large tongs to seize the soldiers in their ascent and drop them into the town. The various kinds of testudo were met by throwing down great masses of stone, pouring down molten lead, piteb, or other combustibles, or by the use of burning arrows or other missiles of the same kind. The mound they endeavoured to neutralise by setting it on fire or undermining it; in the latter case the tower would sink as soon as it came upon the proper place. Against the towers they tried fire, artillery discharged from the walls, or the erection of counter-towers. If a breach was threatened, a second or minor wall was erected to meet it out of the material of the neighbouring houses. The most important siege engines were invented by the Greeks, from whom they came to the Romans. (See ARTILLERY.)

Pictures and Media
TESTUDO (From the Column of Antoninus (Bellori, Col. Antonin., tav. 36).
Type: Standard
gutter splint
gutter splint
gutter splint