Fact File about the Invention of the Catapult: Invention: Catapult *** Date of Invention: c. 400 BCE *** Name of Inventor: Dionysius the Elder *** Lifespan of Inventor: c. 432 BC - 367 BC *** Nationality of Inventor: Ancient Greek *** Historical Period: Ancient Greek (600 BC - 400AD) *** Category: Weapons *** Country of Origin: Syracuse *** Facts about the Inventor, Dionysius the Elder, and the invention of the Catapult ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Catapult? The Catapult was invented by Dionysius the Elder in c. 400 BCE during the Ancient Greek (600 BC - 400AD) era of inventions.
Fact 2: Who invented the Catapult? The word Catapult derives from the
Greek word 'Katapeltes' meaning "to toss or hurl against" (in reference to
Fact 3: Who invented the Catapult? Prior to the invention of the Catapult
in c. 400 BCE, there were few siege weapons that were available to destroy the
heavier and stronger and well defended fortifications and castles that were
being built at the time.
Fact 4: Who invented the Catapult? Engineers of these ancient times began
to design massive siege attack weapons and any machines that were capable of
hurling an object were considered to be a type of catapult.
Fact 5: Who invented the Catapult? The inventor of the Catapult, Dionysius the Elder, was born on c. 432 BC in Greek colony of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy and died on 367 BC.
He is therefore often referred to as Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse. He also
took the title of King Dionysius I and became famous as the Greek tyrant of
Fact 6: Who invented the Catapult? The early years of Dionysius the Elder were spent in Greek colony of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy where he was raised by his family.
Dionysius the Elder did not come from a noble family but was well educated at the great Greek schools of learning in the city of Syracuse.
Fact 7: Who invented the Catapult? Following his education his first job
was working as a clerk in a public office. The Greek city-states led by Syracuse
in Sicily were involved in the long running Sicilian Wars against Carthage for
control of the western Mediterranean. Carthage was founded by the great
sea-faring civilisation of the Phoenicians. The ambitious Dionysius joined in
the fight in 409. Such was his ruthlessness that he distinguished himself
fighting in the war, became nominated as a general and was made supreme chief of
the Republic about B.C. 405, when he was just twenty-five years of age.
Fact 8: Who invented the Catapult? Dionysius of Syracuse consolidated his
power by making himself master of numerous other towns in Sicily and violently
squashing any revolts against his rule. During his battles to consolidate his
power he was instrumental in developing the catapult which would one day be used
to destroy great stone city walls and castles.
Fact 9: Who invented the Catapult? The invention of the early Catapult
began as a weapon called a 'gastraphetes', a precursor of the crossbow that used
an elaborate sliding ratchet mechanism. The 'gastraphetes' was an
impressive weapon that was more accurate and had a greater range than any
Fact 10: Who invented the Catapult? Syracusan engineers under the orders
of Dionysius I enlarged the gastraphetes until it was too heavy for one man to
carry. The giant gastraphetes weapon became known as the 'Katapeltes' or the
Fact 11: Who invented the Catapult? This first Catapult was mounted on a
pedestal base with a winch to draw the weapon's arrows (metal bolts) back with
two soldiers operating the levers. The weapon was meticulously balanced on a
swivel joint so that it could be easily aimed in any direction.
Fact 12: Who invented the Catapult? The first Catapult was used at the
Siege of Motya, the main base of the Carthaginians on the far west of Sicily.
The Catapult was used in conjunction with battering rams and six-storey mobile
towers and Dionysius I was able to take the city of Motya by storm.
Fact 13: Who invented the Catapult? Dionysius the Elder died on 367 BC
leaving a legacy of vicious reputation and the invention of the catapult. The invention of the Catapult,
together with the siege technique and other weapons used at the Siege of Motya
became the standard weapons and strategies used in the most successful ancient
Fact 14: Who invented the Catapult? The Romans were quick to copy the new
weapon which remained a mainstay of siege warfare into the Middle Ages.
Catapults were used to launch various missiles including arrows (metal bolts),
massive darts with iron points and sharp wooden poles. The armies who used the
catapult in siege warfare also used fire, disease ridden parts, dung and rotting
carcasses as missiles.
Fact 15: Who invented the Catapult? The names of different types of
catapults included the Ballista, the Trebuchet, the Mangonel, the Springald and
the Onager which were all developed by early civilisations.
Fact 16: Who invented the Catapult? The Ballista catapult was similar in
design to a Giant Crossbow and worked by using tension. The Ballista was able to
project a stone weighing from 50 to 300 pounds across hundreds of yards. The
Springald and the Onager were smaller versions of the Ballista.
Fact 17: Who invented the Catapult? The Mangonel fired heavy projectiles
from a bowl-shaped bucket at the end of its arm. The Mangonel was not as
accurate as the Ballista but it was able to throw missiles further than another
type of catapult called the Trebuchet.
Fact 18: Who invented the Catapult? The massive Trebuchet consisted of a
lever and a sling that could throw up to 2000 stones weighing 200 pounds with a
range of up to about 300 yards in a day, smashing walls of cities and castles.
Fast Info and Fact File: Country of Origin: Syracuse *** Name of Inventor: Dionysius the Elder *** Nationality of Inventor: Ancient Greek *** Date of Invention: c. 400 BCE *** Invention: Catapult *** Lifespan of Inventor: c. 432 BC - 367 BC *** Invention Era: Ancient Greek (600 BC - 400AD) *** Type: Weapons *** The Inventor and Invention of the Catapult ***