Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum

Ashurnasirpal’s relief depicts the Assyrian attack on an unidentified city. Two kneeling archers in front of an Assyrian battering ram take aim at the city’s defenders. Two other archers stand within the turret of the siege machine. The ramming shaft itself extends from the left of the machine toward the city wall. A chain held by a defender on the wall encircles the shaft; pulling up the chain deflects the ram’s blow away from the city wall. Countering the chain’s upward motion are two Assyrian soldiers below it pulling down the chain with grappling hooks, attempting to release the shaft from the chain.

Two other Assyrian attack techniques are seen in the relief: far left, breaking down the wall by means of spikes held by two armor clad soldiers, and center, tunneling beneath the wall.