A Chinese text credited the invention of the crossbow to a Mr Ch'in in the seventh century BC. Further evidence of the crossbow is from the famous book 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu which dates from at least 345 BC and is reputed to date from 498 BC.

In Europe, crossbow-type artillery pieces were known to the ancient Greeks; they were used in 397 BC at Syracuse. But with the decline of Rome, the crossbow fell into disuse and reappeared again in Europe only in the tenth century.