"Early Greek Siege Warfare" in New Approaches to Greek and Roman Warfare

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Chapter in a Book

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This chapter argues that sieges were always essential to Greek warfare and that Greeks undertook them and captured and destroyed poleis from the earliest periods. It also argues that there is an increase in the number of attempted sieges in the Archaic period with the advent of interstate coalitions. The chapter further argues that with the rise of the Athenian empire, there is further increase in attempted sieges, along with a shift to a preference for circumvallation, which led to sieges that were far costlier and much longer in duration. Ancient Greek siege warfare required the attacking army to surround the enemy polis in order to prevent the escape of the inhabitants, the importing of provisions, or securing of reinforcements. The Greeks of the Archaic period lagged behind the Assyrians and Persians in siege technique. In the early fifth century, the number of attempted sieges in the Greek world mentioned by the ancient sources increases dramatically.