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Technology comes in all forms and intricacies. El Trabuco is a Spanish term originating from Catalan Trabuco catapult. Tra- is Latin (trans) for through while buc mean belly or bulk in Germanic. The full word refers to a contraption used in the middle ages with the hinted design. The Trabuco had a dual purpose at the time, in masonry to crush rocks and in warfare to fire projectiles.

In Brazil, the name later evolved to refer to high-caliber revolvers and shotguns popularly. However, the name’s original meaning still holds. According to, the ancient contraption explains a mechanism of transforming potential energy into Kinetic energy using gravity and the bulkiness of the counterweight. The size of the counterweight determines the velocity of the projectile.

The device originated from China and spread to Europe and the rest of the world. The popularity was fueled by the simplicity and effectiveness of the Trabuco. It was relatively easy to manufacture, use and maintain. The tensile Trabuco and the hybrid Trabuco form the two main variations of the device over the years.

The tensile Trabuco was originally designed to be pulled by humans as the counterweight. The complicated logistics of coordinating a large team of operators made this form of the device rare. At the time, the contraption had impressive capabilities shooting up to four shots per minute. Even by modern heavy artillery standards, this device’s abilities are remarkable based on

When Arabian merchants brought the contraption to the Middle East, a few design upgrades were made to arrive at the hybrid Trabuco. They added weights on the short end of the arm thereby removing the problem of coordination while firing. This modification significantly improved the abilities of the machine from previously hurling a recorded 140 pounds to 400 pounds of rock.

By the thirteenth century on, trabucos had evolved so much that they could hurl rocks of up to a tone. In archaic scenarios, they have been documented throwing horses, human heads and even living prisoners. These machines found their way to Europe during the crusade where they caused mayhem for ages. The invention of gunpowder finally rendered the technology obsolete.