When you watch medieval movies, the catapult plays an important role in some of the most dramatic battle scenes. In this article, you will learn about the catapult and trebuchet, as well as other weapons associated with ancient civilizations.
Catapult and Trebuchets
In the past, the catapult was used to fling objects over castle walls, such as boulders, fire, and even diseased animals (such as dead horses). Sometimes, beehives were also used as a way to send unpleasantness to enemies.
An advanced version of the catapult was called the trebuchet, which was invented in China around the 4th century BC. The weapon made its way to Europe in the 6th century AD and continued to play a pivotal role in battle until the 16th century , even after gunpowder had become popular. The trebuchet was more accurate than other catapults from medieval times, as it could actually launch projectiles a distance of over half a mile.
It’s Raining Fire
When the ancient Greeks sent their warships to a naval fight from around 670 AD, they engaged in heated conflict with the help of their flame-throwers. To their enemies, this form of weaponry looked like a downpour of fire. The only way to dodge the fire was to get down on knees and elbows and pray that they were not hit. Scientists have pondered just how did the ancient Greeks create their fire. The secret has been heavily guarded over the centuries. Some believe they used they concocted a recipe of more than one ingredient. A few theories include petroleum, niter and sulfur; naphtha, quicklime and sulfur; or phosphorus and saltpeter. The ingredients were heated in a cauldron on the ship, and then squirted out at the enemy.
Liquid Flames in China
Located in the northeast portion of what is now known as the Shaanxi Province, researchers uncovered a flammable liquid substance that dates back to 3rd century BC. In the Gao Nu County, the “flammable liquid” was called Meng Huo You. It is thought that the ingredient was actually petroleum that had escaped out of the ground and floated above , gathered from the local waters. The liquid came in handy when the Chinese wanted to destroy towns where the homes were made out of timber.
The Chinese also invented the Pen Huo Qi, which was a piston based naphtha flamethrower that dates back to 900 AD. The flamethrower was comprised of two pistons. The weapon was used during siege warfare.
A Terrifying Chariot
The image of the chariot is one that brings up visions of gladiator battles. Over time, the ancient peoples learned how to make modifications that increased their ability to maim and kill their enemies. The scythed chariot was a war chariot that had one or more blades mounted on both ends of the axle. It took up to three men to control the chariot, which was pulled by a team of four horses. One person was needed to drive, while the other two warriors fought. The scythed chariot could take down infantry lines and create gaps in line formations of troops. On the sides of the chariot, the blades extended horizontally for one meter. If you’ve seen the movies ‘Ben Hur’ or ‘Gladiator,’ then you will have gotten an idea at what scythed chariots looked like in those days.