The word catapult is a generic term used to describe all ancient and medieval non-gunpowder propelled missile-throwing artillery. The first catapult may have been invented in the early fourth century BCE. In 399 in Syracuse, King Dionysius I, threatened by the Carthaginians and other enemies, assembled a large group of engineers to create an arsenal of weapons. Among these was the first non-torsion artillery piece, the gastraphetes. In essence the gastraphetes (which in Greek means “belly-bow”) was little more than a large, powerful, and flexible bow. The flexibility of the weapon came from the material of the bow itself, which was a composite of wood, horn, and animal sinew: a wood core covered by a tension layer of sinew in front and a compression layer of horn in the back. This, using a sinew bowstring, supplied the propulsive force to the missile.
It was, in fact, not much different, although…
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