Modern reconstruction of a ballista

The ballista (plural ballistae) was one of the first artillery weapons used by the Ancient Greeks. The ballista was invented around 400 BC in the Greek town of Syracuse. It was one of the first catapults, and shot very large and heavy spears far distances. The ballista also resembled a large crossbow and could be used throw scaled-up arrows and darts as well.

The steps to operating the ballista are:

  1. Pull back the bow-string with a winch, which creates tension.
  2. Load the ballista with a light missile e.g. darts with iron points.
  3. Release the bow-string, launching the missile.

Ballistae would be used if a weapon that fired light, narrow ammunition was needed.