New Research Reveals How the Romans Used Ancient Artillery to Destroy Jerusalem

In 70 CE, the Roman general (and later emperor) Titus laid siege to Jerusalem for five months, before breaching its walls and destroying the city. Using contemporaneous sources, an analysis of the data, and archaeological evidence, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Kfir Arbiv has arrived at a better understanding of how the legionaries did it. Aaron Reich writes:

So far, the excavated [Roman] equipment consists of anything from ballista stones, sling stones, spears, arrowheads, swords, and catapults. In particular, Arbiv focused on the ballista stones: . . . large weapons of the ancient world that could be described as akin to gigantic crossbows—though the crossbow itself was a later weapon. These contraptions used springs for torsion in order to launch either heavy darts or large stones in siege warfare; . . . ballistae could also be described as an early form of artillery, used to take out fortifications and target soldiers.

Arbiv [compiled data about] where the ballistae stones were found and [used it to] calculate where they must have been fired from. This complex series of calculations had to factor in everything from the location of the city walls, the angles used to launch each stone, and what their ranges were and the local topography.

For the Israel Antiquities Authority’s director Eli Eskosido, the findings are significant in helping further validate the records of the siege of Jerusalem. “The physical evidence of the huge resources employed by the Roman army in Jerusalem reflects the extremely harsh battles that eventually led to the destruction of the Second Temple,” he explained. “Notwithstanding the internal factions and the impossible odds, a small group of Jewish defenders withstood the Romans for a few months.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Judean Revolt

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy