A. H. Layard, Monuments of Nineveh I, Pl. 30

Fortified siege camp. When a city was too well fortified to be attacked directly, an army would lay siege to it—that is, surround it in an attempt to starve out the inhabitants. Lack of water could sometimes be more devastating than lack of food. A siege might last months or years, however, so the besieging forces had to establish their own fortified camp or camps in which to live. Ninth-century B.C. reliefs, such as this one from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, show camps built on a circular, square or rectangular plan, while in seventh-century B.C. reliefs the camps have oval shapes.

The enclosure wall is depicted as if it was tipped 90 degrees to a position lying on its side. The window-like circles in the wall, a feature not seen in any other relief, probably represent the ends of the wooden beams used in the wall’s construction. Thirteen towers surmount the wall.

Inside the camp, jour pictures illustrate aspects of daily camplife. The upper left scene shows a beardless man, probably a young man or a eunuch, apparently operating a brazier and a fireplace. He waves a fan over some vessels, probably to revive the charcoal, and he holds a fly-whisk in his left hand.

Proceeding clockwise, the next scene displays two beardless men. The first stands before a table with crossed legs that terminate in cloven feet; he holds a long towel over his shoulder and a fly-whisk in his right hand. The second sits upon a low stool and is probably pounding something with the mortar in his right hand.

In the next illustration, a bearded wan reaches into a portable oven with handles on top. The fourth scene shows two men disjointing a slaughtered animal that lies upon a table.