Ancient Greek Artillery Technology from Catapults to the Architronio Canon

Michael Lahanas

Αρχαία όπλα : καταπέλτες – βαλλίστρες

Archimedes,” said Lucius, “we know that without your war machinery Syracuse wouldn’t have held out for a month; as it is, we’ve had a rough two years because of them. Don’t think we soldiers don’t appreciate that. They’re superb machines. My congratulations.”
Archimedes waved his hand. “Please, they’re nothing really. Ordinary hurling mechanisms—mere toys, that’s all. Scientifically, they have little value. Karel Capek, Apocryphal Tales

Bows (the first machine invented by man?) were used at least since 8000 BC according to cave paintings in 'les Dogues' (Castellón, France). Probably bows were invented much earlier (around 20000 BC). The word Catapult comes from the Greek words kata and peltes. (Kata means downward and peltes describes a small shield ). Catapult means therefore shield piercer. Catapults were first invented about 400 BC in the Greek town Syracus under

At the siege of providing the financial means required for the experiments that were necessary to find the optimal design. Except in Sicily , Rhodes and Alexandria were the main centers of the development of the catapult technology, in Alexandria advanced by the support of the Greek Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. In the end of the first century AD the Roman engineer Sextus Frontinus wrote in Strategemeta that the war devices have reached their [physical] limits a long time ago and there is no hope for improvements.

There were unique devices produced by Archimedes such as a catapult that used steam power and in principle was a canon. It was described by Cicero in a manuscript discovered in a church library by Francisco (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971).

Dietwulf Baatz. Bauten und Katapulte des römischen Heeres

Biton, Belopoietics
O'Connell, Robert L. . New York: The Free Press 2002.
D L Simms, Archimedes' weapons of war and Leonardo, British J. Hist. Sci. 21 (1988) 195-210

,Chicago Review Press (July 1, 2004) ISBN: 1556525265
(for students with drawings and explanations)

Duncan B. Campbell, Brian Delf (Illustrator), , Osprey Publishing, Limited 2003, ISBN: 1841766348

. Toronto: University of Toronto Press , 1971

Josiah A. Ober, . Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1985

Josiah A. Ober, Early Artillery Towers: Messenia, Boiotia, Megarid. American Journal of Archaeology , 91, 569-604. 1987

Historical / Fantasy Novels