View Full Version : Roman Ballista on EBay

14 Oct 08,, 14:30
Full-size Roman siege artillery offered on eBay
Track this topic Print story Post comment Ideal for seeing off local Vandals. Or Goths

By Lewis Page • Get more from this author

Posted in Bootnotes, 1st October 2008 09:14 GMT

Some may doubt the practical value of the typical item offered for sale at famed online megajumblemall eBay. This viewpoint will be either reinforced or shattered to rubble by the news that a full size, potentially serviceable piece of Roman siege artillery has now appeared for auction.

'At my signal, unleash Hell.'

'Sorry general, the little wheel's fallen off.'
The mighty ballista is offered for sale by custom timber housebuilders Carpenter Oak & Woodland, who built it for a joint BBC/Discovery Channel documentary in 2002. According to the makers, the machine successfully hurled a stone ball of unspecified size to a range of 127 yards, but knackered itself after just two shots. However, they are quite willing to restore it to working order if the buyer requires.

The ballista, as connoisseurs of ancient siege weapons will be well aware, was based on quite advanced technology which the Romans originally lifted from the Greeks. It functions in many ways like a giant crossbow, though it was often used to shoot stone projectiles rather than spearlike bolts.

The particular special sauce of the ballista, as opposed to ordinary bows using bent wood or metal to store energy - or later trebuchets using falling counterweights - was its torsion springs. In the original Roman weapon these were made from ox sinews, and were said to give the weapon excellent performance - perhaps as much as 400 yards' range against large targets.

Carpenter Oak & Woodland apparently couldn't get hold of any ox sinew, and had to use shoddy modern trash instead:

It’s tempting to think that, because the Romans did not have access to modern materials, the ballista could be improved upon. But the Roman’s choice of materials proved impossible to match – for instance, the throwing ropes were made of animal sinew. Modern ropes – even high-tech materials – proved to be far less effective – and of course the team rebuilding the ballista had to ‘make do’ with these newer ropes.

Picture etc at:

20 Oct 08,, 21:27
Put it in my yard and barrage houses of my enemies, now i need to start making enemies.

20 Oct 08,, 22:40
Can we bring it to the party?:cool::biggrin:

Triple C
21 Oct 08,, 07:01
That's it, the SOBs one block down had allowed their dogs to soil the side walk of my appartment one last time.

21 Oct 08,, 16:35
Again...How many of you are willing to put this up?

The ballista is 7.5 meters tall, it is 8.5 meters long and weighs 12 tons.

21 Oct 08,, 20:43
Ballista .... The most effective weapon of that time

24 Oct 08,, 07:01
I have been told it sold for just over £15,000 to a museum :(

24 Oct 08,, 16:32
I have been told it sold for just over £15,000 to a museum :(

Good thing that it went to a Museum

Shiny Capstar
24 Oct 08,, 21:23
Good thing that it went to a Museum

I would prefer it in my front garden, (its Halloween soon and any kid that wants sweets off me is going to have to run a gauntlet to get them:biggrin:)
Besides they say an Englishman's home is his castle...