Ancient Engineering SeriesMANGONEL.com
Ballistic Technologies of Antiquity


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The Onager Manuscript

Downloadable E-book in PDF format.


Brian Lapham has been researching the Onagers for over ten years. He has taken all that research, and the
practical experience of building several working models that have actually been used in mock-combat at
SCA wars, and written an outstanding manuscript about the Onager. How it works, How it was developed,
What other historians have to say about it, and most importantly, how to build your own.

This work is all original and includes details like setting your goals, a parts list, what tools and materials
you'll need, names and definitions of all the parts, how the parts work together and how to build them,
preparing to shoot, aiming, firing and the SCA rules for catapult combat!

Bob Carbo, captain of Team Onager and Onager Online says:

"Brian's Onager manual is very good! It has clear directions, lists of materials, it explains well how to
construct an Onager, and it's filled with helpful photos - not to mention a little background info on the
Onager. Anyone building an onager for the first time would do well to read this first. "

Bob should know, he's got more trophies from pumpkin hurling competitions than anyone I know!

By special arrangement, we are able to offer this manuscript in electronic PDF format at a great low price.

Containing more than 28 pages with over 20 photos and illustrations, the manuscript gives details about
the design, construction and operation of the Onager.

About the Author:
Brian Lapham, or as he is known in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Lord Doughal Stewart, hails from
the Kingdom and Barony of Atenveldt or, Phoenix, Arizona; where he has been building catapults since
1994. He has been awarded numerous times by his colleagues for the performance and detail of his
catapults. Brian's catapults have fought at over a dozen SCA war events, including the Estrella and Great
Western Wars. Doughal Stewart is his 3rd Crusade era Scottish persona.

Brian has worn many hats in recent years; as a resort audiovisual technician, a television news
photographer, and most recently as an urban farmer. Brian is an ordained minister of the Universal Life
Church.
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Interesting Notes

What is a Mangonel?


The term "mangonel" literlally means "engine of war." It is a ballistic device, usually some type of artillery. In other words, a catapult. But "catapult" is a more general word that includes a broad range of things that use mechanical means to shoot a projectile, including slingshots and aircraft carrier launch systems. So a mangonel is a unique type of catapult.

The word Mangonel derives from the ancient Greek word "Manganon", literally meaning "engine of war". The Romans called it a Manganum. In pre-medieval French the word Manganum was changed to Manganeau, and the English changed that to Mangonel in the 1300s.

The history gets a little sketchy in the middle ages, but some historians believe that "mangonel" was shortened to the word "gonnel" about the same time that cannons were being developed, and later still, "gonnel" was shortened to "gun." And to this day, in the military a gun is strictly big artillery. (Rifles and pistols are referred to as "weapons", NOT "guns".)

The three most common types of ancient mangonels are the Greek Ballista, The Roman Onager, and the Trebuchet.

In France, the word Mangonel is used for a Trebuchet that uses a fixed counterweight for power. (The other kind of trebuchet, the hanging counterweight type, is called a "Trebuchet". Go figure!)

The English use the term Mangonel and Onager interchangeably for the Roman single-arm torsion machine.

The Greek catapult, probably the first machine to be called a mangonel, was also known as the Ballista and is where we get the word "ballistic".