Ballista

Ballista

Overview

For the Roman general, see Balista
Balista
Balista or Ballista , also known in the sources with the probably wrong name of "Callistus", was one of the Thirty Tyrants of the Historia Augusta, and supported the rebellion of the Macriani against Emperor Gallienus....

. For the Italian actor, see Gigi Ballista
Gigi Ballista
Gigi Ballista was an Italian film actor. He appeared in 60 films between 1961 and 1980.-Selected filmography:* The Birds, the Bees and the Italians * L'immorale * The Seventh Floor...

.

The ballista (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 βαλλίστρα - ballistra and that from - βάλλω ballō, "throw"), plural ballistae, was an ancient missile weapon which launched a large projectile at a distant target.

Developed from earlier Greek weapons, it relied upon different mechanics, using two levers with torsion
Torsion (mechanics)
In solid mechanics, torsion is the twisting of an object due to an applied torque. In sections perpendicular to the torque axis, the resultant shear stress in this section is perpendicular to the radius....

 springs instead of a prod, the springs consisting of several loops of twisted skein
Skein
Skein may refer to:* A flock of geese or ducks in V formation flight* A wound ball of yarn with a center pull strand, see hank* TV Series, used part of Variety's slanguage.* Skein dubh, a Scottish knife* Skein module, a mathematical concept...

s.
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For the Roman general, see Balista
Balista
Balista or Ballista , also known in the sources with the probably wrong name of "Callistus", was one of the Thirty Tyrants of the Historia Augusta, and supported the rebellion of the Macriani against Emperor Gallienus....

. For the Italian actor, see Gigi Ballista
Gigi Ballista
Gigi Ballista was an Italian film actor. He appeared in 60 films between 1961 and 1980.-Selected filmography:* The Birds, the Bees and the Italians * L'immorale * The Seventh Floor...

.

The ballista (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 βαλλίστρα - ballistra and that from - βάλλω ballō, "throw"), plural ballistae, was an ancient missile weapon which launched a large projectile at a distant target.

Developed from earlier Greek weapons, it relied upon different mechanics, using two levers with torsion
Torsion (mechanics)
In solid mechanics, torsion is the twisting of an object due to an applied torque. In sections perpendicular to the torque axis, the resultant shear stress in this section is perpendicular to the radius....

 springs instead of a prod, the springs consisting of several loops of twisted skein
Skein
Skein may refer to:* A flock of geese or ducks in V formation flight* A wound ball of yarn with a center pull strand, see hank* TV Series, used part of Variety's slanguage.* Skein dubh, a Scottish knife* Skein module, a mathematical concept...

s. Early versions ejected heavy dart
Dart (missile)
Darts are missile weapons, designed to fly such that a sharp, often weighted point will strike first. They can be distinguished from javelins by fletching and a shaft that is shorter and/or more flexible, and from arrows by the fact that they are not of the right length to use with a normal...

s or spherical stone projectiles of various sizes for siege warfare. It developed into a smaller sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 weapon, the Scorpio
Scorpio (dart-thrower)
The scorpio or scorpion was type of Roman artillery piece. Also known by the name of the triggerfish, it was described in detail by Vitruvius...

, and possibly the polybolos
Polybolos
Polybolos was an ancient Greek repeating ballista reputedly invented by Dionysius of Alexandria, a 3rd century BC Greek engineer at the Rhodes arsenal and used in antiquity. Philo of Byzantium encountered and described the polybolos, a catapult that like a modern machine gun could fire again and...

.

Greek weapon


The early ballista in Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 was developed from two weapons called oxybeles
Oxybeles
The oxybeles was a weapon used by the Ancient Greeks starting in 375 BC. The weapon was basically an oversized gastraphetes, a composite bow placed on a stand with a stock and a trigger. It was supplanted by the scientifically engineered ballista. The difference between the two is the use of...

 and gastraphetes
Gastraphetes
The gastraphetes was a hand-held crossbow used by the Ancient Greeks. It was described in the 1st century AD by the Greek author Heron of Alexandria in his work Belopoeica, which draws on an earlier account of the famous Greek engineer Ctesibius...

. The gastraphetes ('belly-bow') was a hand held crossbow. It had a composite prod and was spanned by bracing the front end of the weapon against the ground the end of a slider mechanism against the stomach, the operator would then walk forward to arm the weapon, a ratchet preventing it from shooting while loading. This produced a weapon which it was claimed could be operated by a person of average strength but which had a power that allowed it to be successfully used against armoured troops. The oxybeles was a bigger and heavier construction employing a winch, and was mounted on a tripod. It had a lower rate of fire and was used as a siege engine.

With the invention of torsion spring
Torsion spring
A torsion spring is a spring that works by torsion or twisting; that is, a flexible elastic object that stores mechanical energy when it is twisted. The amount of force it exerts is proportional to the amount it is twisted. There are two types...

 bundle technology, the first ballista was built. The advantage of this new technology was the fast relaxation time of this system. Thus it was possible to shoot lighter projectiles with higher velocities over a longer distance.

For an oxybeles, the rules of a torsion weapon demanded that the more energy could be stored, the thicker the prod had to be and the heavier the projectile, to increase the amount of stored energy delivered to the projectile.
The earliest form of the ballista is thought to have been developed for Dionysius of Syracuse
Dionysius I of Syracuse
Dionysius I or Dionysius the Elder was a Greek tyrant of Syracuse, in what is now Sicily, southern Italy. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies...

, circa 400 BC.

The Greek ballista was a siege weapon. All components that were not made of wood were transported in the baggage train. It would be assembled with local wood, if necessary. Some were positioned inside large, armored, mobile siege tower
Siege tower
A siege tower is a specialized siege engine, constructed to protect assailants and ladders while approaching the defensive walls of a fortification. The tower was often rectangular with four wheels with its height roughly equal to that of the wall or sometimes higher to allow archers to stand on...

s or even on the edge of a battlefield.
For all the tactical advantages offered, it was only under Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

 and even more so under his son Alexander, that the ballista began to develop and gain recognition as both siege engine and field artillery. Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 reports about the usage of smaller more portable ballistae, called scorpions, during the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

.

Since these weapons delivered lighter munitions (thus delivering less energy on impact) it is a widely held opinion that they were used more as an anti-personnel role, or to destroy lighter structures. A less accurate weapon like an onager
Onager (siege weapon)
The onager was a Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine, similar to that of an onager , it was created as a simpler, cheaper version of the ballista. The Onager is a type of catapult that uses torsional pressure, generally from twisted rope, to store...

 or other single-arm artillery could hit with more force, and thus would be the more useful weapon against reinforced wood or heavy masonry.

Ballistae could be easily modified to shoot both spherical and shaft projectiles, allowing their crews to adapt easily to prevailing battlefield situations in real time.

As the role of battlefield artillery became more sophisticated, a universal joint
Universal joint
A universal joint, universal coupling, U joint, Cardan joint, Hardy-Spicer joint, or Hooke's joint is a joint or coupling in a rigid rod that allows the rod to 'bend' in any direction, and is commonly used in shafts that transmit rotary motion...

 (which was invented just for this function) was integrated into the ballista's stand, allowing the operators to alter the trajectory and firing direction of the ballista as required without a lengthy disassembly of the machine.


Roman weapon


After the absorption of the Ancient Greek city-states into the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 in 146 BC, the highly advanced Greek technology began to spread across many areas of Roman influence. This included the hugely advantageous military advances the Greeks had made (most notably by Dionysus of Syracuse), as well as all the scientific, mathematical, political and artistic developments.

The Romans 'inherited' the torsion powered Ballista, which had by now spread to several cities around the Mediterranean, all of which became Roman spoils of war in time, including one from Pergamum, which was depicted among a pile of 'trophy' weapons in relief on a balustrade.

The torsion ballista, developed by Alexander, was a far more complicated weapon than its predecessor and the Romans developed it even further, especially into much smaller versions, that could easily be carried.

Early Roman ballistae


The early Roman ballistae were made of wood, and held together with iron plates around the frames and iron nails in the stand. The main stand had a slider on the top, into which were loaded the bolts
Quarrel
A quarrel or bolt is the term for the ammunition used in a crossbow. The name "quarrel" is derived from the French carré, "square", referring to the fact that they typically have square heads. Although their length varies, they are typically shorter than traditional arrows.Bolts and arrows have...

 or stone shot. Attached to this, at the back, was a pair of 'Winch
Winch
A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in or let out or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire rope . In its simplest form it consists of a spool and attached hand crank. In larger forms, winches stand at the heart of machines as diverse as tow trucks, steam shovels and...

es' and a 'Claw', used to ratchet
Ratchet (device)
A ratchet is a device that allows continuous linear or rotary motion in only one direction while preventing motion in the opposite direction. Because most socket wrenches today use ratcheting handles, the term "ratchet" alone is often used to refer to a ratcheting wrench, and the terms "ratchet"...

 the bowstring back to the armed firing position.

The slider passed through the field frames of the weapon, in which were located the torsion springs (rope made of animal sinew
Tendon
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae as they are all made of collagen except that ligaments join one bone to another bone, and fasciae connect muscles to other...

), which were twisted around the bow arms, which in turn, were attached to the bowstring.

Drawing the bowstring back with the winches twisted the already taut springs, storing the energy to fire the projectiles. The bronze or iron caps, which secured the torsion-bundles were adjustable by means of pins and peripheral holes, which allowed the weapon to be tuned for symmetrical power and for changing weather conditions.

The ballista was a highly accurate weapon (there are many accounts of single soldiers being picked off by ballista operators), but some design aspects meant it could compromise its accuracy for range. The maximum range was over 500 yards (457.2 m), but effective combat range for many targets was far shorter. The ballista's relatively lightweight bolts also did not have the high momentum of the stones thrown by the later onager
Onager (siege weapon)
The onager was a Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine, similar to that of an onager , it was created as a simpler, cheaper version of the ballista. The Onager is a type of catapult that uses torsional pressure, generally from twisted rope, to store...

s, trebuchet
Trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

s, or mangonel
Mangonel
A mangonel was a type of catapult or siege engine used in the medieval period to throw projectiles at a castle's walls. The exact meaning of the term is debatable, and several possibilities have been suggested. Mangonel may also be indirectly referring to the 'mangon' a French hard stone found in...

s; these could be as heavy as 200-300 pound
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

s (90–135 kg).

The Romans continued the development of the Ballista, and it became a highly prized and valued weapon in the army of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

It was used, just before the start of the Empire, by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 during his conquest of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and on both of his campaigns in subduing Britain. Both attempted invasions of Britain and the siege of Alesia are recorded in his own Commentarii
Commentarii
Commentarii are notes to assist the memory, or memoranda. This original idea of the word gave rise to a variety of meanings: notes and abstracts of speeches for the assistance of orators; family memorials, the origin of many of the legends introduced into early Roman history from a desire to...

 (journal), The Gallic Wars
Gallic Wars
The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes. They lasted from 58 BC to 51 BC. The Gallic Wars culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the...

 (De Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico is Julius Caesar's firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, written as a third-person narrative. In it Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting local armies in Gaul that opposed Roman domination.The "Gaul" that Caesar...

).

First invasion of Britain


The first invasion of Britain took place in 55 BC, after a rapid and successful initial conquest of Gaul, in part as an exploratory expedition to see the land across the sea, and more practically to try and put an end to the reinforcements sent across by the native Britons to fight the Romans in Gaul.

A total of eighty transports, carrying two legions, attempted to land on the British shore (the eighteen accompanying cavalry transports had been blown off course on the way over), only to be driven back by the many British warriors assembled along the shoreline. The ships had to unload their troops on the beach, as it was the only one suitable for many miles, yet the massed ranks of British chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

eers and javeliners were making it impossible.

Seeing this, Caesar ordered the warships – which were swifter and easier to handle than the transports, and likely to impress the natives more by their unfamiliar appearance – to be removed a short distance from the others, and then be rowed hard and run ashore on the enemy’s right flank, from which position the slings, bows and artillery could be used by men on deck to drive them back. This manoeuvre was highly successful.
Scared by the strange shape of the warships, the motion of the oars, and the unfamiliar machines, the natives halted and then retreated a little. (Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, p99)

Siege of Alesia


In Gaul, the stronghold of Alesia
Alesia (city)
thumb|200px|Vercingetorix Memorial in Alesia thumb|200px|right|The [[fortification]]s built by Caesar in AlesiaInset: cross shows location of Alesia in Gaul...

 was under a Roman siege
Battle of Alesia
The Battle of Alesia or Siege of Alesia took place in September, 52 BC around the Gallic oppidum of Alesia, a major town centre and hill fort of the Mandubii tribe...

 in 52 BC, and was completely surrounded by a fourteen mile (21 km) long trench filled with water diverted from the local river, then another trench, then a wooden palisade
Palisade
A palisade is a steel or wooden fence or wall of variable height, usually used as a defensive structure.- Typical construction :Typical construction consisted of small or mid sized tree trunks aligned vertically, with no spacing in between. The trunks were sharpened or pointed at the top, and were...

 and towers, then the besieging Roman army, then another series of palisades and trenches to protect them from any Gallic relief forces. As was standard siege technique at the time, small ballistae were placed up in the towers as snipers and other troops armed with either bow
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

s or sling
Sling
The word sling may refer to:* Sling , a device used to hurl projectiles* Sling is an item of climbing equipment consisting of a sewn loop of webbing that can be wrapped around sections of rock or tied to other pieces of equipment.* Sling * Ski jumping sling is an item of sports training...

s.

Ballistae in the Roman Empire


During the days of the conquest of Empire, the ballista proved its worth many times, in sieges and battles, on ships and on the land. It was even used to quell riots. It is from the time of the Roman Empire that many of the archaeological finds of ballistae date and in these times that many of the authors, whose technical manuals and journal accounts used by archaeologists to reconstruct these weapons, wrote their accounts.

After the time of Julius Caesar, the ballista was a permanent fixture in the Roman Army and, over time, modifications and improvements were made by successive engineers. This included replacing the remaining wooden parts of the machine with metal, creating a much smaller and lighter machine, capable of even more power than the wooden version, since the metal was not liable to snap like the wood, and which required less maintenance (though the vital torsion springs were still vulnerable to the strain).

Cheiroballistra / Manuballista


The Cheiroballistra and the Manuballista (hereafter Manuballista) are held by many archaeologists to be the same weapon. The difference in names comes from the different languages spoken in the Empire. Latin remained the official language in the Western Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, but the Eastern Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 predominantly used Greek, which added an extra 'r' in the word Ballista.

The Manuballista was a handheld version of the traditional Ballista. This new version was made entirely of iron, which conferred greater power to the weapon, since it was smaller, and less iron, an expensive material before the 19th century, was used in its production. It was not the ancient Gastraphetes
Gastraphetes
The gastraphetes was a hand-held crossbow used by the Ancient Greeks. It was described in the 1st century AD by the Greek author Heron of Alexandria in his work Belopoeica, which draws on an earlier account of the famous Greek engineer Ctesibius...

, but the Roman weapon. However, the same physical limitations applied as with the Gastraphetes.

Carroballista


The Carroballista was a cart-mounted version of the weapon. Probably there were different models of this cart-mounted ballista of the Cheiroballistra Class, at least 2 different models with 2 wheels and 1 model with 4 wheels. Probable size 1.47 m width, i.e. 5 Roman Feet. The cart system and structure gave it a great deal of flexibility and much more ability as a battlefield weapon, since the increased maneuverability allowed it to be moved with the flow of the battle. This weapon features several times on Trajan's Column
Trajan's Column
Trajan's Column is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near...

.

Polybolos


According to some sources, the Roman military, at one time in its history, also fielded 'repeating' ballistae, also known as a polybolos. Reconstruction and trials of such a weapon carried out in a BBC documentary 'What the Romans Did For Us' showed that they "were able to shoot eleven bolts a minute, which is almost four times the rate at which an ordinary ballista can be operated". However, this has not yet been found archaeologically. They operate using a cam to pull the mensa (the place where the projectile travels on) backwards and the string along with it. At the rearmost position, the string is unlocked and propels the projectile forwards. The mensa is then pushed forward and pushes a bolt out of the magazine above it, and latches on to the string, all done with the rotating cam. The cycle then repeats.

Archaeology and the Roman ballista



Archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, and in particular Experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology employs a number of different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches in order to generate and test hypotheses, based upon archaeological source material, like ancient structures or artifacts. It should not be confused with primitive technology which is not concerned...

 has been particularly influential on this subject. Although several ancient authors (such as Vegetius
Vegetius
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, commonly referred to simply as Vegetius, was a writer of the Later Roman Empire. Nothing is known of his life or station beyond what he tells us in his two surviving works: Epitoma rei militaris , and the lesser-known Digesta Artis Mulomedicinae, a guide to...

) wrote very detailed technical treatises, providing us with all the information necessary to reconstruct the weapons, all their measurements were in their native language and therefore highly difficult to translate.

Attempts to reconstruct these ancient weapons began at the end of the 19th century, based on the rough translations of these ancient authors. It was only during the 20th century, however, that many of these reconstructions began to make any sense as a weapon. By bringing in modern engineers, progress was made with the ancient measurement systems. By redesigning the reconstructions using the new information, archaeologists in the field were able to recognize certain finds from Roman military sites, and identify them as ballistae. The information learned from the excavations then went back into the next generation of reconstructions and so on.
Sites across the empire have yielded information on ballistae, from Spain (the Ampurias Catapult), to Italy (the Cremona Battleshield, which proved that the weapons had decorative metal plates to shield the operators), to Iraq (the Hatra Machine) and even Scotland (Burnswark siege tactics training camp), and many other sites between.

The most influential archaeologists in this area have been Peter Connolley and Eric Marsden, who have not only written extensively on the subject but have also made many reconstructions themselves and have refined the designs over many years of work.

Middle Ages


With the decline of the Roman Empire, resources to build and maintain these complex machines became very scarce, so the ballista was supplanted initially by the simpler and cheaper onager and the more efficient springald
Springald
A Springald is a late 12th century or early 13th century mechanical artillery device for throwing large bolts and less commonly stones or Greek fire, based around the design of a contemporary crossbow and a Greek ballista, but with inward swinging arms....

.

Though the weapon continued to be used in the Middle Ages, it faded from popular use with the advent of the trebuchet
Trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

 and mangonel
Mangonel
A mangonel was a type of catapult or siege engine used in the medieval period to throw projectiles at a castle's walls. The exact meaning of the term is debatable, and several possibilities have been suggested. Mangonel may also be indirectly referring to the 'mangon' a French hard stone found in...

 in siege warfare. The crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

 and the longbow
Longbow
A longbow is a type of bow that is tall ; this will allow its user a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw....

supplanted it as sniper weapon. They all were simpler to make, easier to maintain (no anointment) and much cheaper.

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