Although not called as such, machines performing the role recognizable as artillery have been employed in warfare since antiquity. The first references in the western historical tradition begin at Syracuse in 399 BC and these devices were widely employed by the Roman Legions in Republican times well before the Christian era. Until the introduction of gunpowder into western warfare artillery depended upon mechanical energy to operate and this severely limited the kinetic energy of the projectiles while also requiring the construction of very large apparatus to store sufficient energy. For comparison, a Roman 1st BC century catapult using stones of 6.55 kg fired with a kinetic energy of 16,000 joules, while a mid-19th century 12 pound cannon firing projectiles of 4.1 kg fired the projectile with a kinetic energy of 240,000 joules.
For much of artillery's history during the Middle Ages and the Early modern period, artillery pieces on land were moved with the assistance of horse teams. During the more recent Modern era and in the Post-Modern period the artillery crew has used wheeled or tracked vehicles as a mode of transportation. Artillery used by naval forces has changed significantly also, with missiles replacing guns in surface warfare.
Over the course of military history, projectiles were manufactured from a wide variety of materials, made in a wide variety of shapes, and used different means of inflicting physical damage and casualties to defeat specific types of targets. The engineering designs of the means of delivery have likewise changed significantly over time, and have become some of the most complex technological application today.
In some armies, the weapon of artillery is the projectile, not the piece that fires it. The process of delivering fire onto the target is called gunnery. The actions involved in operating the piece are collectively called "serving the gun" or "detachment" by the gun crew, constituting either direct or indirect artillery fire. The manner in which artillery units or formations are employed is called artillery support, and may at different periods in history refer to weapons designed to be fired from ground, sea, and even air-based weapons platforms.
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... The field-artillery limber assumed its archetypal form – two wheels, an ammunition chest, a pintle hook at the rear, and a central pole with horses harnessed on either side ... The artillery piece had an iron ring (lunette) at the end of the trail ... To move the piece, the lunette was dropped over the pintle hook (which resembles a modern trailer hitch) ...
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