The Art of the Catapult
The Art of the Catapult

The Art of the Catapult

Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery
By William Gurstelle

10 & up


192 Pages, 7 x 9.75

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket, PDF

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $18.95)

ISBN 9781556525261

Rights: WOR X UK

Chicago Review Press (Jul 2004)


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Whether playing at defending their own castle or simply chucking pumpkins over a fence, wannabe marauders and tinkerers will become fast acquainted with Ludgar, the War Wolf, Ill Neighbor, Cabulus, and the Wild Donkey—ancient artillery devices known commonly as catapults. Building these simple yet sophisticated machines introduces fundamentals of math and physics using levers, force, torsion, tension, and traction. Instructions and diagrams illustrate how to build seven authentic working model catapults, including an early Greek ballista, a Roman onager, and the apex of catapult technology, the English trebuchet. Additional projects include learning how to lash and make rope and how to construct and use a hand sling and a staff sling. The colorful history of siege warfare is explored through the stories of Alexander the Great and his battle of Tyre; Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Third Crusade; pirate-turned-soldier John Crabbe and his ship-mounted catapults; and Edward I of England and his battle against the Scots at Stirling Castle.


"A fascinating look at world history, military strategy, and physics, related with an engaging yet lighthearted touch." —School Library Journal"Fascinating." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer"This book is a hoot . . . the modern version of Fun for Boys and Harper's Electricity for Boys." —Natural History"Puts the weapons in the context of their times." —Sacramento Bee

Author Biography

William Gurstelle is the author of the bestselling Backyard Ballistics and Building Bots. He is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 30 years. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.