The configuration of this locality was as follows. The Praetorium stood on a hill, not a hill of rock but of earth, and the wall of the city ran over it. Opposite this hill Bohemund’s men now bcan to dig ‘in a definite direction. For the besiegers had devised this new mischief against the city and invented a new knavish siege-engine to apply to the town. For as they dug, they went along under the ground like moles boring holes in the soil and in places protecting themselves by sheds with high roofs against the stones and arrows which were thrown from above, and in others propping up the eat th above them with poles, and thus they went on in a straight line. So they made a very broad and long tunnel and always carried away the earth from their diggings in wagons.
Digging and undermining the base
When they had bored through sufficiently far, they rejoiced as if they had accomplished a great task. But the men in the city were not negligent for at some distance from the other they dug out the earth and made a good-sized tunnel and then posted themselves along its whole strength to watch for the spot where the besieging party would break through frorri their tunnel to ours. And soon they found it, for they heard them knocking and digging and undermining the base of the walls and, above all, their . . . Then they opened up a little hole opposite and when they saw the quantity of workers by means of this peep-hole, they burnt their faces to ashes with fire. Now this fire is prepared from the following ingredients. The readily combustible rosin is collected from the pine and other similar evergreen trees and mixed with sulphur.
Then it is introduced into reed-pipes and blown by the man using it with a strong continuous breath and at the other end fire is applied to it and it bursts into flame and falls like a streak of lightning on the faces of the men opposite. This fire the men of Dyrrachium used directly they were face to face with the enemy, and burnt their beards and faces.
And the enemy could be seen, like a swarm of bees which has been smoked out, rushing oat in disorder from the place they had entered in good order. Since this labour had also been expended in vain and this idea of the barbarian– had not resulted in any good, they devised a third expedient. This was a wooden tower, and report says that the building of this siege-apparatus was not commenced after the failure of the devices already tried, but a whole year before. Evidently this was the real work, and the other devices aforementioned were only accessories. Before proceeding I must describe in a few words the appearance of the city of Dyrrachium.
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