I would like to know which kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars on both sides, there is not very much information around.

2 Answers 2


Traditional roman siege engines.

There's actually quite a bit available, even just from wikipedia:

Catapults: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carthage_%28c._149_BC%29

Trireme Rams, Corvus (naval): http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_corvus.html

Sambuca, Claw of Archimedes, Heat Ray, onagers (naval): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Syracuse_%28214%E2%80%93212_BC%29#Siege

Battering rams, ramps, roman tortoise, and towers were also very commonly used siege weapons in this time period. If you're writing a paper or article you might research those more thoroughly; I don't know offhand to what degree these were used in the various battles of the three Punic wars.

You should definitely read up on Archimedes, he's credited as being one of the most famous engineers in history, and was active in crafting defenses for his city during the Roman invasion.

You should also review the use of elephants in this war; while not traditionally "siege engines", they were sometimes used to help break through defenses and were a staple unit for Carthage.

  • Elephants weren't used in any significan numbers until Zama (in north Africa, which Carthage lost). The problem was that the Romans had naval superiority, so Hanibal had to march his army into Italy from Spain (over both the Pyranese and the Alps). Not many elephants were left by the time he debouched from the Alps.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 14:40
  • @T.E.D. To add to your comment, I can't seem to find the source now but I remember reading somewhere that those surviving elephants were not even used in battle. It seems to me that elephants were usually mostly for show as they were unreliable and frequently trampled the troops of the army that deployed them.
    – Juicy
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 2:32

As for siege equipment used during the Punic Wars it's quite a long period and should be looked at in a progressive manner.

  1. When the Roman republic entered the war in 264 BC there was little siege strategy within the Roman army. Their main tactic was the circumvention of an enemy town with a series of palisades and connected fortifications. They would then wait it out, some sieges lasted several months and may or may not have been successful.
  2. Gradually the Roman army was exposed to Greek culture and technology through their ally Syracuse. They then adopted new machines to their siege train such as the covered ram etc and heavy ballista.
  3. The Carthaginian army had altogether more advanced Hellenised siege technology at their disposal. Through years of fighting with the Sicilian Greeks they had developed and taken ideas from over two centuries of warfare.

If you need more information try reading JF Lazenby's book on the First Punic War, and Osprey publication Ancient Siege Warfare. (Both sources informed this answer).

  • Thanks for your answer, I edited it for format and to provide links to your sources. Please edit this again if that edit muddied up your answer. Thanks for joining in with us @ History.SE. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 16:33
  • No worries mate, glad to contribute. The formatting was a good idea, it was a rather large chunk of text.
    – user27201
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 23:42

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