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Bill Thayer

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Scene 87
This webpage reproduces a section of
A Description of the Trajan Column
by John Hungerford Pollen

printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode,
printers to Queen Victoria
London, 1874

Text and engravings are in the public domain.
Any color photographs are © William P. Thayer 1997-


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Scene 89

Scenes of the spiral band running up the shaft

 pnnn  LXXXVIII. Attack and assault of a Dacian fortress

The Dacians are collected in a large fortress constructed on the top of a rock, part of it apparently excavated out of the rock itself at the angle nearest to the Roman post. A great length of wall is carried along the summit of the rock in irregular curves and lines suited to the shape of the ground. The wall is of cyclopean masonry, the stones large but not coursed. There are two courses of squared stones at intervals, and another on the crest of the wall, and these courses are ornamented with beads, or else these indicate parts tied in with timber, of which the ends are seen. The whole seems put together with great care. At two points, one a re-entering angle and the other the extreme  p167 outer angle in the face of the works, are two gates with towers built over them. The towers are roofed and a chamber, with a large square window, is over each gate. The gates are covered with plates of iron or skins nailed closely to the framework. A third gate where the wall falls back is similarly covered. A roofed gallery, the lower part between the posts that support the roof, protected by slabs of stone or plates of metal. The furthest, or left hand angle (spectator's right), is protected by a large round tower of squared masonry within which is a square watch tower with a door below and windows above.

The Romans make their first assault upon the right (spectators' left), where the fort abuts on the rock before mentioned. They try to carry this by escalade. Soldiers drag ladders up the rock to erect them against the walls, and from various levels make the same attempt. A number of slingers, both Romans and auxiliaries, are trying to beat off the defenders from their ramparts during these attempts. Others hurl the pilum or try to reach them with their spears. Several men have planted a ladder and hold it in place by main force. One brave man has mounted it, and from the upper round of the ladder cut off the head of one of the defenders. The defenders shoot arrows, strike down with spears and swords, and hurl large stones on the heads of the assailants. A young Dacian has fallen over from the walls and lies dead on a platform of rock close to a square well. Apparently, notwithstanding the determined nature of this assault, it is not successful.

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Page updated: 27 Nov 01