Latin 2 7th period
1 March 2015
Roman Masada Project
Siege weaponry has been used throughout history for many purposes by all kinds of people. The Romans were the ones who perfected its use.
Romans used a variety of siege weapons. The siege tower was a humongous mobile tower that was rolled up to the enemy’s walls and a drawbridge dropped from the top to allow the troops to invade the enemy’s fortification. Another weapon, the battering ram, was used to knock down enemy’s front gates.
The Onger was the typical catapult design consisting of a fixed base and a small sling at the end of the arm which held the projectile. Its name, meaning donkey, was given because if it’s incredible kick-back. It threw small rocks, skulls of the enemy. Larger versions could be used to launch live humans as happened at the Masada.
Last but not least, the Romans had a catapult called a ballista, also known as a Scorpion, which was first seen in 399 B.C. They adapted it from earlier tension weapons used by the Greeks at approximately 300 B.C. The word ballista comes from the Greek word “ballists” meaning “to throw”. The ballista was a larger, stronger, version of the crossbow. The force applied to the projectile is released from the tension in the twisted ropes. It was the earliest catapult and was first used on the battlefield. It was the equivalent to a modern-day sniper rifle and was deadly accurate. Later it was modified to be larger but were still mobile enough to be located anywhere the Romans wanted such as ships, fortresses and siege towers. Torsion catapults could launch rocks weighing up to 175 pounds and 3 meter long bolts meaning they could impale several people at once.
It’s not surprising that siege weaponry greatly helped the Roman Empire in its conquest of the known world. With such a massive arsenal of deadly and complex weapons the Romans were able to massacre their enemies whether they were inside the fortress or on the battlefield.
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