National Geographic : 1963 Dec
Crusaders scale the walls; Jerusalem falls THROUGH WEARY WEEKS of hunger and thirst, the Christians prepared for assault. With wood brought from afar, they built siege equipment: mangonels to catapult boulders; towers to roll against the walls; scaling ladders and battering rams. But watch ing defenders, "noting the great number of machines that we had constructed, strength ened the weaker parts of the wall." To surprise the enemy, before dawn of July 15, 1099, Godfrey of Lorraine moved his siege machines to this point on Jerusalem's north wall. When the sun rose, the scream of battle began. The painting, by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC artist Robert W. Nicholson, depicts the attack in extraordinary detail. Shields raised, Crusaders rush the walls with ladders. Others mount the siege tower, its protective hides ablaze from Greek fire poured down by defenders. (To test Greek fire, the artist himself successfully mixed some from naph tha, pitch, sulphur, and rosin.) Bundles of wet straw cushion the walls against catapulted rocks; archers try to ignite the mats with fire arrows. At far right, a ballista with wooden springs is being cocked to hurl a blazing spear over the wall near Herod's Gate. Eventually "this shower of fire drove the defenders from the walls.... The men began 846 to enter Jerusalem...." Thus did Christendom win the sacred prize. OPPOSITE PAGE FOLDS OUT Barbed wire and mines still split Jerusalem between Arab and Jew. This dramatic view looks northwest. To see how little the city has changed since Crusaders attacked from the low hills beyond the Dome of the Rock, unfold the three-page painting that follows.