A  SOLDIER  BRINGS  A  PRISONER  TO  THE  EMPEROR  FOR  QUESTIONING.  NEAR  HIM  WE  CAN  SEE  MUSICIANS  WITH  THEIR  TRUMPETS  AND  A  STANDARD  BEARER.  THEY ALL WEAR  ANIMAL  SKINS  ON  THEIR  HEADS.

BEHIND  THIS  WE  CAN  SEE CATAPULTS  (BALLISTAE) IN  SMALL  CARTS  DRAWN  BY  MULES.

Emperor interviews a prisoner as the artillery advance

Emperor interviews a prisoner as the artillery advance

The cart (or chariot) mounted  “scorpion”  (similar to the working re-construction at the Fort) was known as a “Carroballista”. Each would be crewed by a contubernium of eight men, (represented here by just two soldiers), and drawn by two mules. Some versions were bigger, carrying larger catapults, on four-wheeled carts, drawn by armoured horses.

The tantalising question here is – how were they used? Were they simply being transported to a theatre of operations in this manner? Or were they used in a tactical sense? In other words, were they directed to different positions in the course of a battle as need arose. If used in this way – and the images on the Column clearly indicate the crews manning their machines on the move  – then we are witnessing the use of Flying Artillery, sixteen centuries before its “introduction” by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. It is shown here providing flanking fire to support an advance by the Legionary infantry.

Does anyone know of any detailed reference to this fascinating weapon in ancient sources? The Carroballista appears several times on the Column. Caesar never mentions it. Neither does Josephus. I wonder if it was first used in the Dacian War?

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