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first apperance of the catapult

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  Quote white dragon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: first apperance of the catapult
    Posted: 27-Mar-2005 at 16:42
so what culture/nation/empire first introduced the catapult?
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  Quote Antiochus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Mar-2005 at 17:34
It must be Phocians in Greece who first introduced the catapults. If i remember right, Phocians under Phayllus leadership defeated Phillip II of Macedonia by using catapults. I am not sure if catapults were introduced before Phocians.

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  Quote Tiamatty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 08:19
It was first developed in Greece between 4-300 BCE. Alexander the Greece was the first to use it for cover on the battlefield, in addition to its use as a siege weapon.
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  Quote baracuda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 08:27
Kata-pultos.. yep but who knows..

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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 08:42

Originally posted by baracuda

Kata-pultos.. yep but who knows.. 

It literally means "against light shields". Kata = against, pelte was a light shield that light troops were carrying, so they were called "Peltastes".

Heavy troops carried the much heavier "Hoplon" shield, thus being called "Hoplites".

So it means that originally a "catapelt" was a machine that it's projectile could pierce a light shield.

 

 



Edited by Yiannis
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  Quote baracuda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 08:49
"Yiannis" I know what it means in greek thats why I said Kata-pultos.. but instead of stopping there I wonder if there is an earlier source of this type of weapon a more basic variant.. as there must have been some sort of siege wepons to take over cities..
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  Quote Tiamatty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 08:52

Erm, Alexander the Great. Stupid keyboard. Eh-hehe . . . ehhh.

Quiet, you.

And my guess is before the catapult, they just threw big rocks at each other. I don't really think there was anything that could be accurately called a predecessor to the catapult - it's not really a complex idea, after all, requiring any sort of evolution. Flinging big rocks is flinging big rocks, after all.

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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 09:25

Originally posted by baracuda

"I wonder if there is an earlier source of this type of weapon a more basic variant.. 
Yes there was, it was called "the bow"

Seriously now, first catapelts were used to throw arrows. They were later modified to throw rocks. As far as I know it was a Greek invention. When it comes to other siege equipment, we have indications that the Assyrians were using rams.

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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 11:22
Catapults were invented in 399 BC at Syracuse. In preparation for his planned war with Carthage, Dionysius the Tyrant of Syracuse had gathered craftsmen from all over the Greek world to produce new or improved armaments for him. One of the fruits of his effort was the catapult.

Tiamatty

it's not really a complex idea, after all, requiring any sort of evolution


Considering people had been besieging cities for aver 2000 years without inventing them, Id say the ideal is not exactly simple.  In any case the catapult evolved rapidly after its invention from a small one man device to a larger sizes, between torsion and tension springs,  to different spring materials (pneumatic, and bronze), to multi-shot and automatic devices,  between arm and two armed devices, to bronze or iron construction, to standardized sizes with pre-calculated range guides, to .

As for first use a field artillery Antiochus, is correct about the Phocis, but with the wrong general. Onomarchus of Phocis was the first to use catapults in the field (against Philip of Macedonia) in 354 BC.
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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2005 at 00:46
Simple traction catapults were already in use during the Warring States period in China in the 5th-3rd century B.C. Their description appears in the Mozi, a Mohist text under a section on Siege Warfare. Traction catapults started appearing in Europe around the 10-11th century A.D. Early painting/drawings of European catapults look uncannily similar to the Tang dynasty "XuanFeng" catapult. During the Tang dynasty siege of Pyongyang in A.D. 668 during the last year of the campaign against Koguryo, it is written that 300 "XuanFeng" or Whirlwind catapults were used to reduce the city to rubble.

The Persians adapted the traction catapult and invented first the counterweight catapult and then the hinged counterweight catapult. It was these counterweight catapults from islamic world that spread into Europe and into China. The Chinese name for HCW catapults translates loosely to something like "muslim catapult" owing to the muslim engineers the Mongols brought with them to China on their campaigns.

The first documented use of hinge counterweighted catapults (trebuchets) in China was in A.D. 1251 during the mongol siege of Xiangyang. The Song dynasty quickly adapted their existing traction catapults into similar HCW trebuchets but couldn't counter the new mongol terror weapon from the middle east.

The Romans built a torsion catapult called the Mangonel (nicknamed Onager or Kicking donkey). It was not a lever principled catapult but instead used the power of twisted ropes/sinew. This Mangonel was used right up to the medieval era in Europe until they were replaced by first the eastern traction catapult, then the Persian CW trebuchet where they took root and helped hasten the end of the feudal era in Europe.

King Ajtasattu (493 - 462 B.C.) of the Magadhan empire in India, in a battle against the republican states of the Lichchhavis used a type of catapult called the Mahaashilaakantaka.  I'm not sure what type of catapult this is.  If anyone here has info, please let me know.  I'd like to build one.

In China, the HCW trebuchet, dispite it's power didn't last as long as in Europe because of the early rise of gunpowder weapons. During the abovementioned siege of Xiangyang by the Mongols, the HCW trebuchet was already sharing the limelight with Song dynasty rockets and early versions of the cannon. In Europe, the HCW had it's heyday owing to the longer lag between the introduction of the HCW to Europe and gunpowder based cannon to Europe.

If you want to see pictures of the HCW trebuchet, Roman Mangonel and Tang dynasty XuanFeng traction catapult, you're welcome to come visit my yahoo group, CHF or ShadowedRealms where I showcase the building of scale models of various siege engines from different cultures/civilisations under a photo album titled Medieval Workshop. The current project is a Song dynasty triple-bow Siege Crossbow.

Jieming
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Edited by Liang Jieming
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  Quote baracuda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2005 at 02:10
"Liang Jieming" sounds reasonable, thanks will look into those type of catapults.. and history
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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2005 at 22:44
If you like more info, here are a couple of reference you can try researching.

1. Mozi lived 470-391 B.C. and wrote the Mo Ching which includes a section on siege warfare during the Warring States period in China.

2. The reference to the Indian catapult is found I believe in the Jain text of 5th century B.C. though I've yet to read it myself. 
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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2005 at 05:27
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  Quote tadamson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2005 at 09:16
For those interested Liang Jieming has put together (well is putting together, such a huge task is never ending) a comprehensive listing of siege equipment.

There isn't a single moment in history (or a single place) whare we can say that somebode took exsisting missile weapons bow, sling, spear/javelin/dart (with or without woomera/atal throwing aid) and developed  triggered versions that stored up energy  (crossbows, ballistae, catapults etc), but by the fourth  centuart BCE  they  suddenly appear  on battlefields around the world (particuarly in China and in the Greek world).

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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 12:21
Hehehe.  Thanks Tom.  I'm been doing some major updates to the articles with all the new info that's been turning up lately.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2005 at 11:03

Originally posted by Antiochus

It must be Phocians in Greece who first introduced the catapults. If i remember right, Phocians under Phayllus leadership defeated Phillip II of Macedonia by using catapults. I am not sure if catapults were introduced before Phocians.

Phayllos was Onormachus brother but he lost the battle against Phillip. It was Onormachus who defeated Phillip in two battles by using catapults. I think Onormachus is one of the most underrated ancient military commanders but his military skills were superb.

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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2005 at 12:56
A friend of mine just found another very, very early mention of the catapult from a battle in 707 B.C.!!!!

It comes from Han dynasty records of 2000 years ago where Han dynasty scholars investigating the war records of the Zhou dynasty identified in a description of a Zhou dynasty era battle the use of the catapult by the King of Zhou against the Duke of Zheng in 707 B.C. where it is stated that;

"stones that are thrown weighing 30 tin fired off by machine with a range of 300 paces"

Unfortunately it is again not known how or what kind of catapult is was though the terminology used makes it clear that fairly large stones were fired by some kind of construct 300 paces away.

This almost matches the Biblical account of King Uzziah of the 9th century B.C. use of stone throwing machines in the defence of Jerusalem!

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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2005 at 22:30

his almost matches the Biblical account of King Uzziah of the 9th century B.C. use of stone throwing machines in the defence of Jerusalem!?

The biblical references are either translation error or just misunderstandings. The reference in Chronicles 2 is likely simply erroneous and in Ezekiel a case of mistranslation from Hebrew to Greek.  Check either E W Marsden Greek and Roman Artillery or a recent annotated bible such as the NIV.

[QUOTE] It comes from Han dynasty records of 2000 years ago where Han dynasty scholars investigating the war records of the Zhou dynasty identified in a description of a Zhou dynasty era battle the use of the catapult by the King of Zhou against the Duke of Zheng in 707 B.C. where it is stated that;[?QUOTE]

I sorry to be suspect, but I just dont buy it. Like the biblical mistake (a Greek translator in an era when catapults were common telescoped technology backward) I can imagine any number of ways that Han era author could misconstrue older documents.

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  Quote Liang Jieming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Sep-2005 at 04:59
I'm incline to agree with you regarding the biblical account since all it really says is that stones were thrown but in the Han accounts they have specific details recorded in Zhou records of the battle itself.  300 paces translates to roughly 100-150metres while 30 jin (sorry typo, not "tin") translates to approx. 6.6 kg during the Han dynasty.

Whatever it was that threw a 6.6kg stone 100-150m, I can't imagine calling it anything else but a catapult.

I can scan and post to you the original text in chinese if you like for your interpretation.


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  Quote conon394 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Sep-2005 at 11:10

Sure Id be interested in the original and any information about the text. But I think the key issue is an isolated reference is still hard to trust. I'll admit I'm far more familiar with the Greco-Roman side of the issue, which is why I think the biblical references are mistakes. Within 20-60 years of the introduction of the catapult by Syracuse, you can find not only numerous literary references to catapults, but a defiant response in the nature of fortifications, and period inscriptions referring to catapults, grave inscriptions of professional catapult operators, ammunition dumps, inventory records of bolts and springs, remains of ammunition at sieges, etc.  The problem with the biblical references is that there is no sign in fortifications of the period that catapults existed (they continue to be build as if the battering ram was the most feared weapon). No indication that professional artillery experts were employed, no stockpiles of ammunition, etc, all the things you find in the mid 4th century.

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