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Full Version: Roman Ballistae in Modern Popular Culture
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Quote:I'm referring to the (obviously speculative) reconstruction in the upstairs gallery, which can be moved around whilst fixed to a pivoting point.
Confusedhock: Must've missed it on my visit last month.
Quote:
Robert Matthew post=318803 Wrote:I'm referring to the (obviously speculative) reconstruction in the upstairs gallery, which can be moved around whilst fixed to a pivoting point.
Confusedhock: Must've missed it on my visit last month.
Just to clarify, I was talking about the Tullie House Museum. It's in the upstairs 'Borders' gallery, on top of the Hadrian's Wall reconstruction, along with a distressingly heavy scuta (no reenactor I) and a miniature (broken) onager.
Quote:
D B Campbell post=318806 Wrote:
Robert Matthew post=318803 Wrote:I'm referring to the (obviously speculative) reconstruction in the upstairs gallery, which can be moved around whilst fixed to a pivoting point.
Confusedhock: Must've missed it on my visit last month.
Just to clarify, I was talking about the Tullie House Museum. It's in the upstairs 'Borders' gallery, on top of the Hadrian's Wall reconstruction, along with a distressingly heavy scuta (no reenactor I) and a miniature (broken) onager.

I'd love to a picture or illustration of the reconstruction if anyone has one. Is it winched or hand-spanned/belly-cocked. Your description of it as being swiveled on a fixed point would seem to indicate that it is more like one of Alan Wilkins/Len Morgan's winched and stand-mounted versions. Some see the lack of a stand or winch as a gap in the original text. I think Heron's original text is relatively complete and describes a small hand-held and belly-cocked palintone inswinger that was intended to be a modernised version of the gastraphetes and hand-held scorpio minor. I believe that Heron came up with the basic concept of this small machine. At that scale it may not have been suitable for military use, but that is not the only example of his genius that he never saw through to practical application. It is likely that some time after his death another engineer realized the design's potential by scaling it up into a full-sized machine. Because it was an in-swinger, the case, and likewise the base, could be much shorter making it practical for use from the bed of a mule cart or along the top of a rampart. Due to it's new application as the first true field artillery piece it was then re-named the carroballista, combining the word for cart (implying mobility) with ballista (palintone, it's mechanical layout). Although the two tems sound similar they are not really interchangeable, in the same way that a rifle and a rifled cannon are much different items of miltary hardware.
Quote:It's in the upstairs 'Borders' gallery, on top of the Hadrian's Wall reconstruction, along with ... a miniature (broken) onager.
How annoying. We didn't venture onto the Hadrian's Wall mock-up. (Has anyone succeeded in circumventing the no-photography rule?)
Quote:I'd love to a picture or illustration of the reconstruction if anyone has one. Is it winched or hand-spanned/belly-cocked. Your description of it as being swiveled on a fixed point would seem to indicate that it is more like one of Alan Wilkins/Len Morgan's winched and stand-mounted versions.
Unfortunately I can't find a photo of it anywhere online, and photography is banned in the gallery itself. :/ From what I recall it was about the size of those reproductions (certainly too large to use without a stand), but the arms swung outwards rather than inwards (the more traditional interpretation). Due to its size, I'm pretty sure it was winched. Sorry I don't remember more clearly!
Quote:Duncan,
Is the parenthetical term (Cheirobalistrai) present in the original text, or is it a later clarification? The Cheiroballistra is by definition a diminutive hand-held weapon. Taken in context the author seems to be describing individual weapons smuggled or secreted away in the wagons, rather than the Carroballista described by Vegetius and assumed to be the ones seen on Trajan's Column.
Yes, cheirobolistra is Constantine's original Greek, which the Moravscik translation renders as "arbalest". However whether all weapons termed cheirobalistrai were necessarily hand-held is, I think, still an open question.
[quote][quote="P. Clodius Secundus" post=318793]The Cheiroballistra is by definition a diminutive hand-held weapon.quote]
Yes, cheirobolistra is Constantine's original Greek, which the Moravscik translation renders as "arbalest". However whether all weapons termed cheirobalistrai were necessarily hand-held is, I think, still an open question.[/quote]
Duncan,
I would suggest that it about as open a question as whether the modern term handguns encompasses heavy machineguns and light artillery. Our Latin scholars out there can correct me, but IIRC all period references to the weapon use the diminutive form balistra or ballistra implying a small size. Unfortunately, the similar sounding term carroballista is very easy to confuse with cheiroballistra. As far as I've seen, the main author/theorist pushing the idea of the Cheirobalistra as anything other than a hand-held weapon is Alan Wilkins. He goes to the opposite extreme of denying that the hand ballista was a hand-held system at all. His proof for adding a supposedly missing stand and winch, ignoring the crescent shaped rest, and doubling the size of the washers in the text, is Heron's earlier statement that after the gastraphetes, catapults had become so powerful that winches and stands were needed. We are expected to believe that all development and use of hand-held catapults ceased at that point. The flawed nature of this argument can be easily demonstrated by applying virtually the same theory to guns....

After the inital development of hand gonnes, their size and power rapidly increased so that wheeled carriages and eventually hydraulic systems and trail spades were introduced to absorb the recoil. Therefore, all development of hand-held weapons ceased and any subsequent references to the .44 Magnum as a "hand cannon" are proof that it was really a 44mm light artillery piece.

Tounge-in-cheek examples aside, I find it much easier to accept that the cheiroballistra was intially developed as a hand weapon and some time later was upgunned to a militarily useful size. At that point it supplanted the other older wooden-framed catapuls but retained the name describing its palintone configuration, with the prefix carro added when it was modified to fit and fire from a mule cart.
For Jennifer:

[Image: ballista-2.jpg]

And that wasnt even their largest........
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