Authored By Staff Writer (Updated: 3/2/2011): The sambuca was a siege weapon of the ancient world capitalizing on basic leverage principles. The system featured a wheeled base with a tunnel-like apparatus on top. The tunnel was hinged on the short end. Ground troops could access the open long end of the tunnel via a ladder. The operators of the sambuca would then load stones of greater weight to the shorter end, to which large holding baskets were placed. This would act as a counterweight and force the long end (the end with the troops in waiting) upwards.
The entire system could be wheeled against the enemy fortification's walls or over moats so its occupants inside the tunnel could storm on in. Protection was provided by animal hide, which could deflect enemy arrows and fire. In practical terms, the sambuca was an ingenious design capitalizing on fundamental principles and allowing invading armies an advantage under fire.
The sambuca was also known as the “harp”.