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Catapults

Catapults were invented about 400 B.C. in the powerful Greek town called Syracus. These Greek engineersfirst constructed a small machine, called the Gastraphetes, sort of a crossbow. However, after they found out how good the smaller Gastraphetes were, they made a bigger one and put it on a carriage to transport it and added a windlass to cock the heavier machine. Some physical barriers prevented the Gastraphetes from getting any larger. So in the mid-forth century B.C. torsion springs were introduced, replacing the composite bow that was used in the Gastraphetes. The torsion spring consisted of a bundle of rope made from horsehair or sinew. This could get bigger and bigger as opposed to the Gastraphetes because they could just use more rope. The new catapults were now built with 2 torsion springs powering the catapult. Soon after that a new catapult was created and it was used in wars and it out rated the gastraphetes machines. In the 3rd century B.C. the 2 main types of catapults were standardized: the Euthytonon for shooting arrows and the Palintonon for throwing stone balls. About 100 A.D. the Romans redesigned the torsion artillery, developing quite different new arrow shooting machines. They arefirst shown on Trajan's columns in Rome. The new catapult types remained in use until Late Antiquity. In this period another type of stone thrower was also developed, the Onager.
The catapult was a special type of siege engine, a large device used to attack a fortress or a large or small city. Catapults were used in ancient and medieval warfare until the introduction of the gunpowder cannon in the 14th century. A catapult could hurl large stones, spears, or other projectiles at an enemy but there was one main problem: a catapult is very hard to aim and once it has been aimed at the target the enemy has probably already moved, defeating the whole purpose of trying to aim a catapult. They would have been better off shooting…

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