The Ballista

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Tools of War

The ballista was an ancient equivalent of a mounted machine gun: it was stationary, accurate, fast, and deadly. very VERY deadly. It was created in ancient Rome but first became common under the rule of Alexander of Macedon and again later by Julius Caesar. The ballista was basically a large mounted crossbow (crossbows hadn’t been invented).

boltsongrass A set of the smaller dart-like bolts

Before the ballista, the bow was the main long ranged weapon which is why the ballista is very similar to one. The ballista has many advantages over the bow such as its range. Unlike the bow which was all one piece, the ballista has two separate arms powered by twisted rope torsion coils. These coils gave the ballista much more power and therefore range than a bow. This increase in power also enabled much larger projectiles. It fired bolts (spear-like arrows), either shorter dart like bolts for accuracy or larger spear…

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