Copyright

Ballista: Definition, History & Facts

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is a Pan Flute? - History, Origin & Types

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Definition and Facts
  • 1:09 Significance
  • 2:15 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has taught high school history in several states with a master's degree in teaching.

The ballista was a weapon invented by Greeks, used by Romans, and perfected during the Middle Ages in Europe. In this lesson, learn about the history and use of this weapon.

Definition and Facts

Would you believe that a weapon could have such an influence that it determined how women styled their hair? It's true, the ballista was so important in European history that women adjusted their hair styles to ensure the weapon was always ready to use! So, what was a ballista and why was it important?

A ballista was a weapon invented by the ancient Greeks to launch an object a considerable distance. Think of the ballista as a crossbow mixed with a catapult. The two wooden arms that stick out of the sides are connected to ropes. When the arms were pulled back, the ropes twisted around a wench, building tension. Once the tension was released by letting go of the arms, the ropes unwound and the object launched into the air.

Sharpened wooden sticks, darts, and stones were all used as missiles in the ballista. The best ballistae (the plural of ballista) could launch a 60-pound object approximately 500 yards.

The Greeks invented the ballista and later the Romans adjusted it to meet their needs (around 400 BCE). Beginning approximately 800 years later during the Middle Ages, the ballista was reintroduced throughout Europe. During this time, it was primarily used by the French.

Significance

Now that you know a little about the ballista and how it worked, you're probably wondering how it affected hair styles at the time! Well, remember the ropes that were used to build tension? Those ropes were made of human hair or animal sinew, which are tendons or ligaments. The pieces needed to be long and strong, so women grew their hair long in case a rope snapped and needed to be replaced! During the time, this was seen as an act of patriotism. Since women could not be soldiers, this was their way of contributing to the war efforts of their country.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support