Ancient Roman siege engines

Ancient Roman siege engines

Ancient Roman conquerors had effective siege engines developed for attacking fortifications.

History

Keywords

siege engine, siege tower, catapult, battering ram, antiquity, Rome, Római Birodalom, siege, soldier, military strategy, military history, battle, fortification, imperial period

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Narration

The history of the Roman Empire is one filled with legendary battles. As the Empire was expanding, the army engaged not only in land or naval warfare but also in siege warfare. The siege engines built by ingenious Roman military engineers were already in use in the age of the Republic. The army effectively used these in besieging walled cities and fortifications. In the age of the empire, they were improved further. When a siege started, the catapults were deployed first, which weakened the enemy’s defense. Catapults, which are based on the storage and release of mechanical energy, were used in a number of varieties.

The ballista was similar to a large crossbow; it was considered a precision weapon. It launched darts, stones and other relatively light projectiles on a low trajectory. The energy necessary for launching the projectile was provided by the torsion of the twisted rope.

The most common and effective machines in Antiquity were stone-throwing catapults. They featured torsion bundles and they were capable of hurling projectiles of several dozen kilograms. Their range exceeded 300 meters (984.3 feet).

A battering ram is also a siege engine originating in ancient times. Since it had to be transported right to the walls of the besieged site, the operators, and the device itself, required protection.

The battering ram consisted of a large, heavy log hung on a wooden support structure and was used to break reinforced gate doors by being moved repeatedly against the surface. Frequently, the ram’s point was reinforced with a metal head, which provided greater efficiency.

Siege towers, which were also used by the armies of other ancient empires, were also effective siege engines. The structure was protected by walls on three sides and provided with wheels, so it was easy to transportation it to the besieged site. Soldiers used internal ladders to climb the tower, then a drawbridge was dropped onto the wall. Troops could then rush onto the walls and into the castle or city.

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