The Gastraphetes

by Daniel Russ on April 11, 2012

Gastrpehets or Belly Bow



The Gastraphetes was a type of compound bow used about 400BC by the ancient Greeks and Macedonians. Heron of Alexandria, the great inventor describes it in Belopoeica, and  there exists also a description by the 3rd century BC engineer Ctesibius. The name gives away its western translated moniker: the Belly Bow. Once you locked the string onto the firing frame, your leaned it against something like the ground or a tree and leaned on it, with your belly of pushed until it drew back and pulled the string tight. Then you loaded an arrow into a slotted holding space and all you had to do to fire the Gastraphetes was pull a lever that released the string. It fired regular arrows.





The gastrphetes could propel an arrow through most of the day’s body armor.


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