Siege artillery: the ballista

3d model and reconstruction

Siege artillery: the ballista

​The model of the ballist has been reconstructed based on drawings from the Encyclopédie médiévale by Viollet-le-Duc, a French 19th century architect, best known for having restored the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

Thanks to virtual reality it is also possible to see how the machinery, a weapon used during sieges to shoot arrows at great distances, actually worked.

Apart from the images in the viewer, on request, it is possible to have videos or other images from different perspectives.

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Short history of

Siege artillery: the ballista

With the barbarian invasions and the fall of Roman Empire, it lost an important heritage of technical skills, essential to military operations in particular for sieges and defenses. It will be the Byzantine and Arab engineering that reintroduce a set of tactics and machines derived from the great tradition of Hellenistic-Roman technology.

Already used by the Romans, the ballista was a giant crossbow (in fact the two names come from the same Latin word, balista ), usually placed on wheels for easy transport and moving in the shot (in this case it was called “carroballista“). It could be operated both by tension or torsion, using cranks or winches. It was more suited to defense. It hurled darts and arrows with iron tips with an almost straight line. The bullets could reach a length of about two meters, and easily penetrated any armor.