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Onager

The Onager (half-ass or Equus hemionus), is an animal of the Equidae family, related to the donkey and horse.

Onagers were used in ancient Sumer to pull chariots, circa 2600 BC.


The name onager was later passed on to a post-classical Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine.

The onager consisted of a frame placed on the ground to which a vertical frame of solid timber was rigidly fixed at its front end; through the vertical frame ran an axle, which had a single stout spoke. On the extremity of the spoke was a cup to receive the projectile.

In action the spoke was forced down, against the tension of twisted ropes or other springs, by a windlass, and then suddenly released. The spoke thus kicked the crosspiece of the vertical frame, and the projectile at its extreme end was shot forward.



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