Key Pages:

13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

How has the trebuchet permeated our modern society? Rendered militarily obsolete by the advent of gunpowder over 500 years ago, how did this ancient siege weapon survive its would-be extinction, remaining a part of the western culture? Below are examples of trebuchets in their present form, drawing a global appeal, but the question remains: why?


Not really sure what's going on here, but undoubtedly a testament to the accuracy of the machine.


Hew Kennedy, "Rich English Guy" shows his passion for retro-engineering


Here, a trebuchet launches another flaming piano, this time in the name of art


Finally, a reconstruction using the latest technology, which is seemingly inferior to the original design

Why has the trebuchet remained a part of the global material culture? I will attempt to answer this question in three parts. First, I will provide a background on the machine itself: its origins, its evolution, and its practical uses and capabilities. Next, I will examine the impact of the trebuchet, primarily in city planning, fortifications, and warfare. Finally, having discussed the machine itself and its impact, I will document the spread of the trebuchet and consider its use as an early engine of globalization.

Part One: Siege Machine

Back to The Catapult