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Hi,
I am running polish site about the ancient Rome. This is the biggest one in Poland: http://www.romanum.historicus.pl/

Last time I received question from one of visitors. He is asking when Artillery in roman legions were introduced (separately scorpio, ballista, onager) and in which number?

He also asked me what was the number of roman army during a reign of Augustus?

I would be pleased if you help me!

Cosiek
Quote:Hi,
I am running polish site about the ancient Rome. This is the biggest one in Poland: http://www.romanum.historicus.pl/

Last time I received question from one of visitors. He is asking when Artillery in roman legions were introduced (separately scorpio, ballista, onager) and in which number?

He also asked me what was the number of roman army during a reign of Augustus?

I would be pleased if you help me!

Cosiek

We don't know exact numbers. But most scholars estimate around 250-350.000 men in Augustus army at full strength. About half of them in legions, the other half auxilia/alae. However the units were often not at full strength.

I can't say when the romans started to use artillery and siege weapons. Most propably as soon as they saw one. :woot:
Vegetius, describes 1 carroballista per century and 1 onager per cohors, if I remember right. But this armchair general mixed up eras greatly, in order to establish his funky Neverland Legion. So it is unclear, when this became a standard. Perhaps mid or late 1st century is a good guess. And this just means mobile artillery. Additional siege-artillery was always buildt onsite on occasion. There are also hints, that small camps of auxila had some artillery. I guess the romans used artillery pretty situational and there was no standard at all.
Thanks for the info Smile
The romans usually didn't carry Scorpions or Catapulta with them, they just lopped off the useful part (the torsion spring housing) with an axe and re-built the rest later. They also took the metal parts.
Quote:The romans usually didn't carry Scorpions or Catapulta with them, they just lopped off the useful part (the torsion spring housing) with an axe and re-built the rest later. They also took the metal parts.

That makes a lot of sense for the bigger equipment, but does it make sense for the smaller stuff like a carroballista to disassemble it always?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carroballista

Or look at this. Even if I doubt, that there is a proper evidence for this construction

http://wattsunique.com/blog/wp-content/u...llista.jpg
Well a carroballista was on an ox-cart (latin: Carrus), so they didn't need to take it apart anyways. There was the Cheiroballista and the Manuballista or hand-Ballista, which later evolved into the Arcuballista or Bow-Ballista. The first 2 were hand-held torsion-spring scorpiones, which we don't have much evidence of. The latter though was the first true crossbow, and is even diagrammed in the strategikon. Later on came the Cheirosiphon which was for greek fire.
Jakub,
Like most things, the Romans adopted and continued the artillery technology of the Greeks. For military purposes they were using at least two types of torsion weapons in the Punic Wars and Republican era. Those were the arrow shooting scorpion/catapulta and the stone throwing ballista. Both of them had wooden frames and were essentially updated Greek designs.
Some time during the last half of the 1st Century CE the iron-framed arrow shooting ballista (Hero of Alexandria's Cheiroballistra) was introduced and the standard types of wooden framed engines disappeared from the historical record. By the first decade of the 2nd Century the iron framed ballistas and what are
widely presumed to be carroballistas are shown on Trajan's Column and later on the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Similar arched iron frames are found at sites well into the 4th Century. As far as I am aware, the only contemporary evidence indicates that they were carried in two-wheeled mulecarts rather than heavy ox carts.
Along with the switch from scorpions to ballistas and from wood to iron frames, there also seems to have been a shift in stone throwing engines.
The single armed onager (monongakon) which had previously recieved very little mention in Greek sources, and may not have been used by the Romans at all, seems to have become popular, replacing the large wooden-framed ballistas as the stone thrower of choice. According to Ammianus it took over the name scorpion due to its resemblance to the upraised stinger of that animal. By the mid 4th Century it was refered to as the Onager due to the fact that it threw stones like a wild ass did when pursued.
So you see, depending on what era you are considering the artillery in use can vary greatly. In the Republic and Early Pricipate, scorpions
had two arms and threw arrows and ballistas were large two-armed stone throwers. By the beginning of the Second Century the arrow shooters were also ballistas. By the 3rd Century scorpions were now one-armed stone throwers.
The best way I've found to explain Roman artillery to visitors is to have them recall the opening scene of the movie Gladiator. Especailly the part where the onagers
with baskets on the ends of their arms are throwing flaming jars while the wooden-framed scorpions are shooting fire arrows at the enemy. I tell them to consider that scene to be about as historically accurate as the old movies about cavemen hunting dinosaurs.
Quote:The best way I've found to explain Roman artillery to visitors is to have them recall the opening scene of the movie Gladiator. Especailly the part where the onagers
with baskets on the ends of their arms are throwing flaming jars while the wooden-framed scorpions are shooting fire arrows at the enemy. I tell them to consider that scene to be about as historically accurate as the old movies about cavemen hunting dinosaurs.

Where is the inaccuracy for you exactly?

- the flaming jars?
- the wooden framed scorpions?
- the fire arrows?
- the massive use of field-artillery at all?
Frank,
While there is evidence for the use of fire arrows and onagers throwing incindiary projectiles, the whole scene is anachronistic or just plain wrong on a number of points, such as....
#1. Wood-framer euthytone scorpions nearly 200 years after the last shred of evidence for them.
#2. The conspicuous absence of any arched palintone iron-framers almost a century after Trajan appears to have used them exclusively in the Dacian wars and even the enemy had them.
#3. Onagers with baskets on the end of their arms. Onagers had slings "of tow or iron", the latter presumably for hot or flaming objects.
#4. Onagers, or for that matter any, Roman artillery with wheels attached directly to the frame.
#5. Onagers with a large vertical buffer frame to arrest the arm's forward motion and release the flaming jars. Like wheels, spoons, spur gears, and baskets, that component is the product of the fertile minds of Victorian and Edwardian era historians (Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey in particular)raised on the classical misdirections of renaissance artists.
Interposing a few good and accurate elements with blatant, but widely held falsehoods makes good entertainemt, but bad history. Just like cowboys and pirates or cavemen and dinosaurs.
Quote:He is asking when Artillery in roman legions were introduced (separately scorpio, ballista, onager) and in which number?
As you probably know, Josephus gives a snapshot of a three-legion Roman army engaged in siege operations during the Jewish War of AD 66-70. At Jotapata, Josephus claims that "Vespasian arranged the shooting machines all around, there being 160 devices in all, and ordered them to shoot at the men on the wall" (BJ 3.166).

Of course, Vespasian may have assembled a random number of catapults, but it's interesting to see how the total (160) tallies closely with Vegetius' information that "each centuria was accustomed to have a single carroballista", so that "In one legion there are usually 55 carroballistae" (ERM 2.25.2 & 4), and that "Ten onagers, which is one for each cohort, are carried around in ox carts, ready to use" (ERM 2.25.4) -- making 165 arrow-shooters and 30 stone-throwers in a three-legion army.

Vegetius probably drew upon an earlier source -- Book 2 is all about the "ancient legion" -- so he probably translated out-of-date terms (perhaps scorpiones and ballistae) into terms that his 4thC readers would understand.
Quote:ERM[/i] 2.25.2 & 4), and that "Ten onagers, which is one for each cohort, are carried around in ox carts, ready to use" (ERM 2.25.4) -- making 165 arrow-shooters and 30 stone-throwers in a three-legion army.

Vegetius probably drew upon an earlier source -- Book 2 is all about the "ancient legion" -- so he probably translated out-of-date terms (perhaps scorpiones and ballistae) into terms that his 4thC readers would understand.

Duncan, since Vegetius focuses his discussion around rapidly deployed "field artillery" carried ready to use in wagons and carts rather than the "siege artillery" forms borrowed from the Greeks and used in Josephus' time, I get the impession that his "ancient legion" was more likely based upon a post-Trajanic model than on Flavian or earlier construct. The major shift in artillery design that seems to have occurred between 70 and 100 A.D. is a difficult dividing line to cross, without postulating expalations for all the shifting terms. Considering Ammianus' note that the the term scorpion already shifted from the euthytone to the one-arm and had time to fall out of favor (replaced by onager) suggests to me that to Vegetius, the span of 200 years was long enough to qualify as ancient and still coincide with the Empire at it peak.
Quote:I get the impession that his "ancient legion" was more likely based upon a post-Trajanic model than on Flavian or earlier construct.
My point was about the numbers, Randi. But you're quite right -- I wrote in haste (and my mind was on the siege machinery chapters, which are thought to be early in origin). Most authorities have placed the "ancient legion" in the third century (chiefly on the basis of his cohort-size, I think, assuming it to be an accurate description of a Severan-reformed unit rather than one of Vegetius' own elaborations -- a polite word for "blunder"!), although I think H.M.D. Parker advocated the reign of Hadrian. Either of these dates would have seen ballistas as centuria-based arrow-shooters and onagers as cohort-based stone-projectors.
The rough correlation in the ratios and numbers of troops/artillery across so large a time span is probably not simple coincidence. Such numbers are usually decided by factors like the number of troops required to physically handle and adequately serve a piece, the range and frontage they occupy, and the logisticical footprint they create. Although the technology changed and mobility increased starting in the late 1st/early 2nd Centuries, there probably wasn't much of a difference in crew requirements. Too bad we don't have any surviving texts from that transitional phase. I think Heron of Alexandria started it with his small hand-ballista, but I doubt he had any idea of how much of a game changer it would be. I wonder if he had anything to do with scaling it up or if he even lived to see it happen. I'd love to have a source that could help pin down when the onager came into widespread use. Barring any new discoveries, I guess we'll have to content ourselves with tha notion that it happened some time after 69AD. The Hatra ballistas throw a monkey wrench in the works on that one. Although, they might have been an Eastern development with little connection to the Roman Army proper. Can you recall any post-Flavian references to ballistae that specifically categorize them as large stone throwers?