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The Gastraphetes (literally "belly-shooter"), a killing machine with devastating firepower, was an Ancient Greek Crossbow and the forerunner of the medieval crossbow. It was the Long-Range weapon of Alexander the Great.


The Gastraphetes consisted of a noticeably large composite bow attached to a long wooden stick ending in a U-shaped end, used when spanning & firing the bow.


  • 48 yards
  • 10 lbs
  • Wood & Iron Bow
  • Iron bolt


The Greek crossbows appeared in the 4th century BC.

The Gastraphetes was loaded by pressing the stomach against the concavity at the end of the weapon, thus pushing an elaborate slide to the ground, & the weapon was positioned from the belly of the user when aiming (hence the name belly-bow). Though heavy, the weapon was powerful & accurate enough to pierce most armor of the day and offered greater range than any weapon of it's time except siege weapons. Like all crossbows, it was slow to reload.

Alexander the Great was known for using them in his wars & battles, most notably in the Siege of Tyre.

The sliding mechanism was replaced by torsion; which could exert similar pull strength with a lighter detachable mechanism.

Uses in the Show:[]

The gastraphetes was tested on foot and could not match the speed or the accuracy of Attila the Hun's composite bow. After this test, the hosts gave the edge to the composite bow. The Gastraphetes was Alexander the Great's second-least effective weapon in front of the Ballista, and only got 52 kills out of 1000 battles.