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Old 02-19-2016, 03:35 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

I'm looking for guidelines on the height and thickness, not to mention materials and design, of walls modelled on those of the ancient world. Think the Walls of Babylon, if on a smaller scale.

The city of Shussel in my fantasy campaign is situated in an Akkadian/Assyrian/Babylonian-esque part of the world, which is now at TL3. The walls were first built some 3,000 years ago, but might have been added to or even rebuilt several times since then. It is established, however, that their current design is antiquated and inadequate for TL3 siege warfare and the walls themselves are groaning with age and neglect.

I know approximately how thick the walls are at the top, because that has been described to the players already. They are wide enough for two chariots to meet, which is anywhere from 15' to 20'. The height of the walls is at least 30'.

There are no battlements, parapet or crenels on the wall proper, which is merely flat-topped*. There are a lot of defensive towers, however, and these should be crenellated and have proper fighting enclosures, at least to the limit of the top-of-the-line TL2 castle design.

First of all, I'm wondering what materials were used to build the walls. Ideally, if there is any possibility that fairly light and easy-to-work with materials like brick could have lasted this long, I'd like the walls to be made out of those. At any rate, the walls are not granite or any similarly hard type of stone. Limestone is a possibility, if it could have lasted thousands of years (with repairs and additions).

Secondly, to get 15' to 20' width at the top of a wall that is at least 30' high, how wide would the walls be at the base? Obviously, it depends on materials, but assuming either brick or fairly soft stone, what would be a ballpark figure?

*To facilitate the aformentioned chariots driving there, which was a concern considerably more important than optimal defensive value, especially as the city spent most of its existence deep within the heartland of a powerful empire and was confident in the strength of its field armies.
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Old 02-19-2016, 03:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

Are the bricks/blocks mortared or drystone?
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Old 02-19-2016, 04:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
Are the bricks/blocks mortared or drystone?
Whatever is most plausible for something that was built as top-of-the-line at TL1 or early TL2 in a climate much like Israel, but is considered out-dated in design and has not been well kept up for the past thousand years (and not at all for almost three hundred).
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Secondly, to get 15' to 20' width at the top of a wall that is at least 30' high, how wide would the walls be at the base? Obviously, it depends on materials, but assuming either brick or fairly soft stone, what would be a ballpark figure?
Herodotus gave the walls of Babylon as 320' high and 80' thick, so a 4:1 ratio has some plausibility. Going from that, a 32' high wall would need to be 8' thick, then add your desired top width for chariot racing to the bottom thickness.
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Old 02-19-2016, 01:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

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Herodotus gave the walls of Babylon as 320' high and 80' thick, so a 4:1 ratio has some plausibility. Going from that, a 32' high wall would need to be 8' thick, then add your desired top width for chariot racing to the bottom thickness.
I would be reluctant to base anything on Herodotus' numbers, as the consensus seems to be that he was just making it up from whole cloth. He seems to have been off by as much as an order of magnitude for the length of them walls, for example.
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Old 02-19-2016, 01:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
First of all, I'm wondering what materials were used to build the walls. Ideally, if there is any possibility that fairly light and easy-to-work with materials like brick could have lasted this long, I'd like the walls to be made out of those. At any rate, the walls are not granite or any similarly hard type of stone. Limestone is a possibility, if it could have lasted thousands of years (with repairs and additions).
Mud brick, possibly with a drystone or baked brick foundation (I forget the Greek word which archaeologists use ... socle?) and possibly with a baked brick facing. The foundation prevents the winter rains from dissolving the adobe, and it make life harder for enemies with picks.

Stone elements tended to appear in places like the Levant and Anatolia with relatively good supplies of stone, but not in Mesopotamia because there is not enough stone locally but there were always burghers with an annual service tax due, mud, and straw.

I don't have reliable data on height-to-thickness rations. Check your library for a translation of Philon of Byzantium's manual for architects of fortresses? You should definitely be able to find data on Greek and Hittite fortifications at anywhere serious, though I don't know how Recijavik is for ancient history. Greek Aims in Fortification and Hellenistic Fortifications from the Aegean to the Euphrates are two English titles which come to mind.
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Old 02-19-2016, 02:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

Scholarly article about the walls of Jericho. The article isn't aimed at the details you want, but it should have some (scholarly) data, including height and thickness of the walls. With diagrams.

Quote:
The first perimeter wall, 3.6 m high, was 1.8 m thick at its base and only 1.1 m at its preserved top.
That's in early bronze age though. about 7000 BC. but it gives a good minimum size.
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Old 02-19-2016, 02:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Scholarly article about the walls of Jericho. The article isn't aimed at the details you want, but it should have some (scholarly) data, including height and thickness of the walls. With diagrams.

That's in early bronze age though. about 7000 BC. but it gives a good minimum size.
7000 BCE is Neolithic, not Bronze Age, AFAICT. Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East started around 5000 BCE, give or take a few centuries, and if you don't count the Chalcolithic as part of the early Bronze Age, closer to 4000 BCE (again, give or take a few centuries).

EDIT: Unless someone's been playing silly buggers with the dates on Wikipedia again. I think GURPS Low-Tech also uses something like 4500 BCE as the start of the Bronze Age, though.
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Old 02-19-2016, 03:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

For Bronze Age construction, the Cyclopaean walls of places like Mycenae might be a better model than Jericho.
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Old 02-19-2016, 03:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Walls of Shussel (first built at TL1)

Just trying to be helpful. We at lest have a minimum

Lets try Mycenaean Troy

The guy writing the thing seems to care more about the scarpment of the wall than its thickness, but the one wall we get stats for is about 6 meters tall and 4.6 to 6 meters thick.

I'll quit throwing crap when someone gives firmer answers.<smile>
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