A zamburak, (in Persian: زمبورک), was a specialized form of mobile artillery from the early modern era. The operator of a zamburak is known as a zamburakchi. The weapon was used by the Gunpowder Empires, especially the Persian empires of the Safavids and Afsharids, due to the ruggedness of the Iranian plateau, which made transportation of heavy cannons problematic.
The zamburak became a deadly weapon in the eighteenth century. The Afghans used it to deadly effect in the Battle of Gulnabad, routing a numerically superior Persian army. The zamburak was also used successfully in the Naderian Wars, when the Persian Shah and military genius Nader Shah utilized a zamburak corps in conjunction with a regular artillery corps of conventional cannon to devastating effect in numerous battles such as at Mihmandust, Yeghevard, and Karnal.
Probably developed by Egyptian warriors who originally mounted large crossbows on camels, the zumbooruck was rapidly adopted by Arab, Afghan, Mughal and especially Persian Safavid armies up until the 19th and 20th century India. Zumboorucks were one of the royal guard units in the 19th-century Persian army. A Persian zumbooruck regiment would be accompanied by musicians with huge camel-mounted drums, in order to create even more noise and impress the enemy. Zumboorucks were used against the invading British in the Anglo-Afghan Wars and in the Anglo-Sikh Wars.
A zumbooruck consisted of a soldier on a camel with a mounted swivel gun (a small falconet), which was hinged on a metal fork-rest protruding from the saddle of the animal. In order to fire the cannon, the camel would be put on its knees. The name may be derived from Arabic zambūr, hornet (possibly in reference to the sound earlier camel-mounted crossbows made). The mobility of the camel combined with the flexibility and heavy firepower of the swivel gun made for an intimidating military unit, although the accuracy and range of the cannon was rather low. The light cannon was also not particularly useful against heavy fortifications.
The Dzungars used camel mounted miniature cannons in battle. Gunpowder weapons like guns and cannons were deployed by the Qing and the Dzungars at the same time against each other.
A later development (after 1850) would see Gatling guns mounted on camels as well.
- Biblomania: Free Online Literature and Study Guides
- Hobson-Jobson[permanent dead link]
- digital.library.upenn.edu/women/sheil/persia/185.jpeg an image
- Answers.com entry (citing 1913 Webster's Dictionary)
- Thefreedictionary.com entry