Roman army and the weapons it used are associated (especially for the laymen on this subject) mainly with the equipment of a Roman legionary. Who has not heard of a rectangular shield called a scutum, a short sword called gladius or a spear – a pilum? Not everyone, however, even heard about siege machines and their role in the Roman army, and some know them only from films like “Asterix and Obelix”.
Siege machines can be divided into two groups. For those that allowed to wreak havoc in the ranks of the enemy or destroy the captured object, as well as those that facilitated the acquisition of the object – let them reach it or get to its area. The first group includes ballists, Roman scorpions and onagers. Onager threw stone missiles or flaming objects into the enemy. Ballista was also a heavy missile launcher, e.g. shots, stone balls (up to 100 kg!). The scorpions were an example of a light machine – they resembled ballista, but were much smaller and threw light bullets on the principle of a crossbow. The second group includes, for example, Roman tunnels or siege towers. The tunnels were to help the troops move under the walls of the facility without detriment to the health of the soldiers. A similar function had siege towers, thanks to which Roman soldiers were able to get enemy walls. The Romans also used rams, which broke gates, and even crumbled defensive walls.
It can therefore be seen that the siege machines played important roles in the Roman army. Certainly they were very helpful, and their continuous improvement and exploitation contributed to many Roman victories.