Ancient Greek History

Ancient Greeks Invented the Catapult

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Sling shot hanging on the hangerAlthough the catapult was popularized during the Middle Ages of Europe, it was actually the Ancient Greeks who invented it. In fact, even though the catapult designs first created in Ancient Greece were a little different than those that came about later on, the Greeks are credited with inventing both the original design and the concept as a whole.

Inspired By the Crossbow

In order to understand how these ancient catapults functioned, it helps to observe the design of the crossbow because the two are related. They have a similar design and even though the catapult is much bigger than the crossbow, they have a similar mechanism. Although, the bow propels arrows forward and the catapult propels objects, which means that even though the design has some similarities, they aren’t exactly the same.

Invented By Soldiers

According to Diordius Siculus, a Greek historian who was born in 90 BC, the catapult was invented around 399 BC by Ancient Greek soldiers who were part of a task force. They were focused on finding a way to propel objects at long distances. This served the purpose of damaging enemy forces without needing to get too close to them. After it was invented, it was used against Motya, Sicily during one of their campaigns. Many believe that Siculus based his work on material created by Philistus, who was a historian who was alive shortly after the catapult was actually invented. However, the work of Siculus is more widely known to modern historians.

Why the Catapult Was Important

Originally, the catapult was considered a large “arrow shooting machine”, which is why the fact that it was based on the crossbow was significant. They understood that arrows in general presented an effective way to inflict damage on an enemy troop. However, the arrow’s flight path is limited by the size of the bow itself as well as the strength of the individual drawing it back. The question was, how could they make the flight of the arrow more effective? The answer was by inventing something stronger and larger that could propel the arrow forward more effectively and at a greater distance. This was the original intent behind the catapult.

Over time, the design changed as people realized that it wasn’t necessarily efficient to limit the catapult to only arrows. The Medieval version of this weapon was typically sturdier, and it was designed to hail rocks and other heavy objects forward. This was particularly effective when shooting at the walls of a stronghold. However, none of this would have been possible without the Ancient Greeks original innovation! The catapult still exists today. Even though other types of weapons are preferred, they still make an impact on modern warfare.

Source:  Wikipedia

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This post was written by Greek Boston