It is, indeed, impossible to find a complete working plan of any one
of these old weapons, a perfect design being only obtainable by consulting
many ancient authorities, and, it may be said, piecing together the details
of construction they in individually give.
We have no direct evidence as to when the engines for throw projectiles
It does appear the King Shalmaneser II, of Assyria (859-825 B.C.) had
any, for none are depicted on the bonze doors of the palace of Balawat,
now in the British Museum, on which his campaigns are represented, though
his other weapons of attack and defence are clearly shown.
The earliest allusion is one in the Bible, where we read of Uzziah,
who reigned from B.C. 809-9 to B.C. 756-7. 'Uzziah made in Jerusalem engines
invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to
shoot arrows and great stones withal.' (2 Chronicles xxvi. 15.)
Diodorus tells us that the engine were first seen about 400 B.C., and
that when Dionysius of Syracuse organised his great expedition against
the Carthaginians (397 B.C.) there was genius among the experts collected
from all over the world, and that this man designed the engines that cast
stones and Javelins.
From the reign of Dionysius and for many subsequent centuries, or till
near the close of the fourteenth, projectile throwing engines are constantly
mentioned by military historians.
But it was not till the reign of Philip of Macedon (360-336 B.C.) and
that of his son Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) that their improvement
was carefully attended to and there value in warfare fully recognised.
As before stated, the Romans adopted the engines from the Greeks.
and other historians tell us this, and even copy their descriptions of
them from the Greek authors, though too often with palpable inaccuracy.
To ascertain the power and mechanism of these ancient engines a very
close study of all the old authors who wrote about them is essential, with
a view to extracting here and there useful facts amid what are generally
verbose and confused references.
There is no doubt that the engines mad and used by the Romans after
there conquest of Greece (B.C. 146), in the course of two or three centuries
became inferior to the original machine previously constructed by the Greek
Their efficiency chiefly suffered because the art of manufacturing their
important parts was gradually neglected and allow to become lost.