Erich Lessing

ON THE COVER: Assyrian soldiers storm up wooden ramps as they attack the Judahite city of Lachish, in a seventh-century B.C. relief from the walls of King Sennacherachib of Assyria’s palace in Nineveh. Large battering rams move up the ramps, surrounded by soldiers raising shields to protect themselves from arrows and flaming torches. An Assyrian on each ram pours water over the flammable “mini-tank” to protect it from burning. But does this graphic tribute to the Assyrians’ battle really show how the siege occurred?

In “Jerusalem Under Siege,” William H. Shea suggests that the Book of Kings’ conflicting account of the Assyrian siege of the Judahite cities, along with the archaeological evidence from Lachish, indicates that the Assyrian assault was not the single, clearcut battle depicted in Sennacherib’s own reliefs.

In Jerusalem, too, archaeologists are rewriting the history of the Assyrian siege, as well as the story of the ancient capital’s fortifications, water system and much more, as reported in “Everything You Ever Knew About Jerusalem Is Wrong,” and “I Climbed Warren’s Shaft.”