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EXHIBITS    >    The siege technology of the ancient Greeks    >   


In the ancient world, until the end of the 5th century, innovations in the art of defence and siege were minimal. The safety of walls, the numerical supremacy, but mainly the bravery of soldiers was usually the chief comparative advantage of opponents. However, the Greeks managed to change the facts in this sector, as well.

The beginning was in Syracuse in 399 BC (during the rule of Dionysius the Elder) with the systematised aid of technology in defence of the city. In the decades that followed, a multitude of engineers experimented with the result being the production of the "oxybeles" catapults (launchers of arrows and small stones of long range and powerful impact force) but also other machinery such as the incredible war machines of Archimedes ranking at the top.

Yet, the greatest drive of siege art was realised by the Macedonians (Philip II, Alexander the Great and his Successors) with the production of the powerful catapults but also with the invention of the astonishing and impressive siege machines. At that time, they also constructed the remarkable armoured vehicles ("tanks"), such as the giant siege towers ("helepolis"), the all-powerful roofed "rams", the effective "borers", etc.

The leading achievement of that period, however, was the "polybolos" catapult of the Rhodians (a mechanism for the continuous automatic launching of arrows).