How can a trebuchet use gravity

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How can a trebuchet use gravity

Late 7th century Transoxanian depiction of a traction trebuchet Wheeled whirlwind traction trebuchet from the Wujing Zongyao. It may have been a name for counterweight artillery trebuchetspossibly either a men-assisted fixed-counterweight type, or one with a particular type of frame.

The term itself was used as general medieval term for stone throwing artillery as well as the more specific traction trebuchet.

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However traction trebuchet is a modern term created to distinguish the mangonel from the onager, a torsion powered siege weapon that was superseded by the mangonel around the 6th century AD. The mangonel is often confused with the onager in translations, leading to further confusion, hence why modern military historians came up with "traction trebuchet", which was not known to contemporary users of the weapon.

How can a trebuchet use gravity

Chinese siege weapons The mangonel is thought to have originated in ancient China. They were probably used by the Mohists as early as 4th century BC, descriptions of which can be found in the Mojing compiled in the 4th century BC.

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Furthermore, it was probably safer to operate than tension weapons, whose bundles of taut sinews stored up huge amounts of energy even in resting state and were prone to catastrophic failure when in use. He also claims that mangonels were independently invented or at least known in the Eastern Mediterranean by AD based on records of different and better artillery weapons, however there is no explicit description of a traction trebuchet.

Furthermore mangonels were used in Spain and Italy by the mid 6th century and in Africa by the 7th century. The Franks adopted the weapon in the 8th century.

How can a trebuchet use gravity

The philological and admittedly circumstantial historical evidence may even support a date around In Li Mi Sui dynasty constructed mangonels for his assault on Luoyangin Li Shimin did the same at Luoyang, and onward into the Song dynasty when inmangonels operated by Song dynasty soldiers fired bombs of lime and sulphur against the ships of the Jin dynasty navy during the Battle of Caishi.In addition to building prototypes of a trebuchet, you can also use physics calculations or even a computer simulation to help you design it to have the best range.

Figure 1. Reconstructed trebuchet at Château des Baux, France. Building and testing the trebuchet with a lever and weight system was a good way to witness science “at work. ” This system uses gravity to activate propulsion.


The force of gravity applied to the counter-weight of the trebuchet creates the action that moves the projectile through the air as the trials show. This is my last post for the Bad Astronomy Blog on Discover Magazine. As of today – Monday, November 12, – the blog has a new home at Slate magazine..

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The exact beginning of trebuchets is not known but we do know that they first started appearing around the 12th century. There were similar siege engines that date back as far as the 6th century but these were human powered rather than gravity powered with counterweights.

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