Ancient Slingers

The underrated snipers of ancient times


Origins and principle

The ancient slingers were probably as old as warfare itself. Prehistoric battles would probably have involved weapons and skills already used for hunting, and others improvized for the task. Javelin, spear, mace, and... rock. Throwing a rock could be deadly, no doubt, depending of its size, nature, and strenght of the launcher. But in the end, it's still a short range, low velocity projectile. Throwing the same projectile at larger distances implied a simple mechanic, but a wonder of basic engineering: The "leverage". By using an intermediary and applying the right impulse, led to an artificial demultiplication of human force; Its the base for, basically, industry as a whole. Leverage was used for a wonderful ancient weapon, called atlatl in south america but used also in Africa and Asia under other names. Basically a shaft and propeller, which upon release, artificially augmented the javelin's initial speed. Basically it was a propeller, throwing a projectile. Basic, but efficient to increase both range and velocity. Still, it depended of the arm's movement, and a single one, to operate, so it was not optimum. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it mainly for sport and hunting, as ankule or amentum. There is no clue of their use in battle. But the principle remains valid to this day, it's even the principle for Tank warfare's APFSDS rounds.

And therefore, sometime, somewhere, someone saw that placing an object into a "recipient", like a bag, and slinging it caused the latter to move sideways (centrifugal force). Perhaps a rope failed, or the used just failed to keep one, and the load was projected, fast. We will never know the events that brought our this idea to fruition, but in the end, one started to have the idea of propelling a pebble with ropes, and later leather, or both, making a pouch. A the centrifugal force turned this fairly cheap and simple contraption, into a killing machine. Make no mistake her, also they were underrated, slingers were truly deadly. Given modern reconstitutions by specialists and ancient texts, we have a relatively precise idea of how they were effective, less about their tactical use. But let's put it straight, the sling was perhaps the most cost-effective, deadly range weapon of the ancient times. It was relatively simple to master, more than a bow, required less labor-intensive work to make, its projectiles were basically found everywhere, and likely to never run out of ammunition, and its range and hitting power was unparallel, at least before the introduction of firearm. Only crossbows reached comparable velocities, but the projectile still needed to be manufactured.

The sling as a weapon:


Rather dramatic depiction of David vs. Goliath, or how a slingshot made a king.

The sling was probably only "civilian" in its use, by Neolithic peoples around the Mediterranean, and probably for some time before someone had the idea of using it in battle, probably during the bronze age. Oldest depiction yet was from Çatalhöyük, circa 7,000 BC. Shepherds were those most frequently using it. The range of the projectile and ease of use meant they could dissuade a wolf, fox, lynx or any predatory threatening its herd. As it was finalized, the sling comprised a small cradle, or pouch, in the middle of two lengths of cord. One was held firmly, and the other extremity was held more loosely as it was to be released after the giration of the ensemble reached a sufficient speed. The most famous sling "kill" is find is the Christian old testament: The story of David, first king of judea, and the giant phillistine warrior Goliath. It testifies the use of slings in warfare during this time, probably 5,000 BC at least. The earlist types were probably the simple three strand "pouch" was very simple but the projectile could fall out prematurely. It seems obvious that a leather pouch was soon required. It had a greater contact area but but made release timing less consistent. The best solution was to use two narrow leather bands, the best compromise. The pointy release end of a sling could be supersonic and as a whip, emit a clacking sound, making the sling conspicuous and one one-time use in an ambush, like the arrow, it was best fired up close, as the targeted troops had no time to realize and prepare. Using a pop-ball release end, threaded, was a better solution, both for the user's fingers and discretion (it stayed subsonic). Arrowhead could also be made silent, and therefore keeping an abushing party in a forest hidden for some time, while peppering the enemy.

During the bronze age and classic era of antiquity, slingers were invariably shepherds pressed into service for a battle. These were civilians, paid by the city-state, as well as archers and rare horsemen from the countryside, added to the hoplitic core, the base of the citizenry not only in ancient Greece, but in all city-states from Iberia to the black sea, the coast of africa to Asia minor. Assyrian and Egyptian armies made a massive use of slingers as part of their standing army, some depicted as well equipped, with sometimes sword, helmets and amour, as archers. However professional slingers were rarer in Greek and Roman culture, although their prominelty appeared as mercenaries, some gaining a fierce reputation (see below). Evidence: Of course, as it was made of perishable materials, none sling was ever found. Acheologists only found al sorts of metal bullets and projectiles. Also, we have depictions engraved on bas-reliefs, possibly paintings, and ancient authors own depictions. Some descoveries led to the description of the "one-time sling", on which the projectile was attached to the rope (like bolas), as shown in the Battle of Fucine Lake in 89 BC.

Sling

The sling was a deadly weapon, certainly to take more seriously than the bow. The projectile was heavier, and the range sometimes greater (lobbed in a high trajectory, a projectile can excess 400 metres or 1,300 ft) as well as the velocity, up to 100 mph (160 km/h). To this speed, a tailored shaped bullet can shatter bones with ease, even if the wearer had some protection. The head being the exposed, weakest and more sensitive part, semi-professional slingers soon learnt to hit it. Even a bronze helmet offered little resistance to an impact at such speed. Just recall that eastern recurved bows of medieval era would achieve up to 225 feet per second (fps) or 150mph, but in the western world in then antiquity, standard straight bows could not expect such speeds. Only medieval crossbow did better arguably, with bolts travelling at 325 - 375 feet per second. Their ancient equivalent, the gastraphetes, was around the same area as the ballista and scorpion, around 300fps achieved around (90 m/s), they were able to pierce through shield and armour, even a linothorax, able to stop arrows. The sling projectile, called the "bullet" relied on percussion shock, concussion.

Bullet

Part of it was directly linked to the projectile itself, after the skills and proficience of the user: Using immediately available projectiles, as any egologist know, would reserve some surprises, as some "rocks" depending on the terrain, could be light and friable, like talc and hornfels and do not much damage than a snowball. Preferred bullet were made of lead, armor-piercing, with an optimized shape and often marked with symbols (see the roman part). They were the best projectiles, but by default, slingers used river pebbles, which had the right shape and weight, with high crystal content, or granit. Size had an impact, and projectiles the size of an egg were the upper limit. There are still practicioners of the art of slinging today, and they came to the same conclusion, part-time slingers such as peasants achieved poor accuracy, of their learnt their trade before the battle. Even after one year of daily, solid practice, hundreds of launches per week, a good slinger could hope hiting a target the size of a watermelon at 20m one of four times. And this was still the level of a child in a sling-culture such as the Balearics. With a lifelong practice, a slinger could hope hitting with consistency a torso-size target at 130 feets. Therefore it made highly unlikely than peasants were pressed into service as levied slingers, as long as shepherds and mercenaries were available. Shepherds indeed were equally skilled because of the daily protection of their flock against predators, hunting for daily sustenance, and the considerable spare time left in this activity, which could be used to increase proficience with the sling.

Apart stones, and metals on the other end, it is possible baked clay bullets were also used as a cheaper alternative, with the advantage of having an inner stone in it for added penetration or an empty space to fill with various liquids, but it's pure speculation as nothing of the later was found (but examples of clay balls). Metallic projectiles however were found with a great variety of shapes, teardrop, pear, round, hemispheric, and conical, perhaps the deadliest of all. For psychological effect, some had holes in it, producing an unstelling whistling sound. Lead was commonplace, as a byproduct result of silver foundry, and cheap, and molds for it was easy to make for mass production. They ranged from 50 to 500 g, and its not unlikely to imagine short volleys using long slings with a large pouch carrying a dozen of small bullets used a bit like modern shrapnells, yet with poor accuracy and velocity, as a last resort defense. Another aspect often overlooks, was their used against clay or terracota walls, and wooden palisades, as they produced plenty of shards after a hit, inside the defensive perimeter. Diodorus Siculus even compared them to catapult stones in their effects; There are also depictions of wounds treated which includes surgery to retire embedded bullets. It is not far-fetch to think they could have been poisoned by simple means, like arrowheads, dipping them in feces or rotten corpses to spread infections, quite useful in sieges.

Tactical use

On a battlefield, the slinger was at the vanguard of the main army, at the right distance to run in case the enemy launch its cavalry, to reach fireindly lines, finding cover behind spearmen. This depended on the terrain, climate, and position of both armies. They started to unleash a wall of projectiles on the enemy, not only to soften up the first lines, but also mask the advance and tactica moves of their own army, as when falling the pojectiles obliged enemy soldiers to take cover, loosing sight of the enemey each time. This was also for good psychological effect. During river crossing, they could "clean up" massed soldiers on the other side, due to their superior range, being kept on the other side during the crossing as well as archers; In a pitch battle, they were sent to the wings or rear during the main assault after sirmishing was done, and later support their own thanks to their velocity. They could quickly reinforce a hard-pressed position or team up with cavalry in support. Also, due to their mobility, they were ideal to set up ambushes on rough terrain. Hannibal used them in such a fashion, demultiplying their effect. When Vegetius wrote a tactic manual in 350 AD, he pointed out the use of slingers, citing specficically the Balearic slingers used by Hannibal as the best example of their ideal use, going as far as saying all soldiers should carry a sling and train with it between campaigns.

Legend: The balearic slinger


Splendid depiction of Johnny Shumate of a Greek slinger. Note the lead, tripoint bullet and large pouch, for war.

Of all the mercenary slingers, the Balearics were regarded as the very best slingers, having been trained for early boyhood the hard way to sling. It is said that Balearic mothers did not allow their sons to eat until they had knocked their bread off a wall from a fair distance away, atop a pole mast or rock. Slings they used were made from hair and animal sinew and mercenaries carried three types for use at different ranges. Standing together produced a wave of slingshots able to pierce armour and shattered bones. They were certainly dedalier than archers, as testifies the Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paullu, which took a mortal wound to the head from slingshot during the opening minutes of the catastrophic Battle of Cannae. Then, Balearic slingers were used by the Carthaginians as Hannibal's combined arms tactic also favored by his master, Alexander the Great, which made use of Thracian slingers or local Macedonian/Greek shepherds.

The Baleares are a group of small islands off the coast of eastern spain, three islands which can be reached in a day of navigation with ease, but for which we know little about their neolithic and bronze age populations. Vegetation is poor but higher in the mountains, this is a dry, sunny and rocky place. Mythic tales of populations included shipwrecks and fleeing Trojans, legend has it that these colonists were dwelling in caves and living naked (...). The level of development stayed low, and occasional contacts with the Carthaginians and Greeks. They had little to offer, and tales of deteriorations of their farmlands, perhaps droughts, causing famine and limiting their growth rate. Their communities however learned to deal wit these conditions, and relied mostly on herds. This led to frequent frontier squabbles around rivers (notably in Mallorca, the largest island), the control of pastoral lands. This was evidenced by numerous hittop fortifications scaterred around the land.

Sling was probably used as seen as better than just throwing stones to protect the herd or hunting, and soon probably used them for border wars between communities. When invaders came (likely greeks and phoenicians), they were like quite proficient with the sling. "Balo" meant "to throw" in Greek, which gave its name to the whole archipelago. In the 8h century BC, Punic merchants came and settled, trade and an influx of new technologies and novelties from the Mediterranean helped growing the communities. Villages began to swell into urban centers along the coast. The attractivity of the Phoenician culture had a strong influence on the whole area, and starting with Mallorca, the Phoenician way of life, customs, administrative system, home amenities and clothing, language and alphabet were adopted. In time, the influence of Carthage started to grow on the Baleares, until the islands became subjects of Carthage, having to pay tributaries and send manpower and later troops (the first mercenaries). It is more than probably that the first balearic mercenaries were used by Carthage in the wars to take control of Sicily and Sardinia. Early Balearic mercs were likely jack of all trades, and carried a spear or javelins as well, later dropped when integrated in larger armies and more specialized.

A Thracian slinger


Soon, the reputation of slingers from the island grew to immense proportion, to the level of their skills. They became in high demand, not only by the Carthaginians, but soon, by the Greeks that fought them as well. It reached such levels that the Balearic youth soon enroled in mass, leaving the island for better opportunities abroad. However, according to historians, these mercenaies refused to bring back gold and silver at home with them, when they retired at a later age. Instead they spent all on women and goods such as wine, and better equipments (possibly a leather cap, or even an helmet, a sword, a shield, a tailored pouch, etc... In time they became more professional and started to specialize, as well as take some indosyncracies of the various cultures they met. Around 300 BC they were certainly aong the most renown mercenaries of the ancient world, their reputation going as far as the fringes of the Hellenistic Empire, to India or the steppes of Scythia. After the Romans took gradual control over the Mediterranean, the Balearic slingers went on as auxiliaries wth the same success. Their simple sling started to be more sophisticated, with various lenght, pouch or release mechanisms, as were the projectiles, shaped lead bullets for deadly results: A 100 kph over more than 250 m, a lead bullet had enough momentum to crush an helmet, pierce an armor and shatter bones.

The most skilled slingers could hope to even reach 400 m, yet in pure ballistic way, so with reduced accuracy, but out-ranging archers with a much heavier projectile. Diodorus Soculus also taks about the staff sling as being invented by Balearic slingers to achieve better ranges. They used to carry their sling around their head, waist or arms during transport, when having different lenght slings. For added protection, apart their tunic, they could have worn a leather armor, helmet and wooden roundshield, strapped to the back when marching and deposed when using the sling to keep balance. With their sword and buckler-type shield, they formed a valuable close melee infantry, for the most experienced of them. As for accuracy at shorter ranges, down to 50-70m, Livy told greek slingers were proficient enough to target parts of the enemy's head, like the head, mouth, jaw, or forehead. It is likely the same for Balearics. These were used also against the Carthaginans in north africa during the mercenary wars, and later in Spain under Hamilcar Barca, also with great results in this rugged landscape. When Hannibal decided to attack Rome he has about at least 1400 balearic slingers under his command. however he sent some in Africa, and it's not sure half of the remaining one still around when he crossed the Alps into Italy, although they were signalled in all his subsequent battles until Cannae, at Ticinius, Trebia, and Trasimene. They were used in Africa too, present at Zama. Afterwards, and before the third Punic war and complete elimination of Carthage, the Romans were quick to enlist baleraic slingers into their own wars in many fronts. Caesar mentioned using these during the Gallic wars for example, and it is likely they were also used during the social and then civil war. They remained in service throughout the Imperial era, probably called Balearicii fundata. But we lost their trace as they became regular auxiliaries and no longer mercenaries in the late imperial era.

Video

Greek Sphendonetai

Thracian sphendonetai Picture: Thracian sphendonetai. Example of a Pelopponesian slinger, with its typical konos cap.

The common greek and hellenistic era slinger was used all around the Mediterranean basin. Outside professionals mercenaries, they were mostly levied shpeherds from the countryside, although some could choose to stay close to an army for whatever reason, as most shphered without herd to keep would choose; These were skills much in demand. Coming from a low social rank, the slinger was poory equipped as a warrior. The wearer had no body protection, helmet, shield, nor close melee weapon, but only what he could find on the battlefield (and his utility sknife). Therefore a slinger who served for long in any army would get his hands on a better equipment, but ip to a point. Indeed, slingers tactically needed to be vey mobile, for a simple reason. In a conventional field battle, with two armies facing each others, slingers were deployed forward of the lines, as archers and perhaps javelineers. Their role, as for each "psiloi" was two-sided: Soften the enemy just by knocking out enemy troops, and provoking an attack, especially when the army had the advantage in defence, either because of terrain, composition or tactics. They were known for their overhand technique. At short range especially, a single rotation was sufficient to hit a target at 30-40m, velocity was traded for accuracy and a faster learning curve, allowing peasants, not shepherds, to learn the trade quickly.

Common tactical use

Therefore it was rare that an army of the time did not possessed its own "psiloi" and the opening phase of a battle was generally an exchange of vanguards. Slingers needed to be agile and fast enough to avoid being caught by a projectile if that was possible. The second reason was the intervention of cavalry, as light unprotected infantry far ahead of friendly lines was atempting target. In that case also, slingers needed to be fast. Heavy armour would go aginst this principle. Therefore, Greek and Roman slingers, as well as those of the Celts and other "barbarians" were most oftern lightly equipped to keep velocity. The Greek slingers "sphendonetai" ("sphendone" meant sling) played about the same role as archers in an opening battle, and had to withdraw quickly behind their lines as the battle progressed, of if their ran out of ammunition, which was true for javelineers and archers, but not necessarily for slingers, probably the last to leave the "no-man's land" between armies. In wartime, by default or another protection, it is likely slingers coukd have use a small shield, at least to deflect an incoming projectile, if spotted. The shield was light, with wood, leather and felt, but this combination could sometimes stop an arrow, javelin, or bullet. Army greek slingers would probably also wear an helmet if they had the chance, as slingers generally target the head. If anything, their use also had psychological effect, harassing and annoying well protected and armoured enemy soldiers. Ancient authors reported the use of singers in many occasions. One of the most famous was made by Alexander the great, known to best use its different units, a master of combined arms which will inspired a century later Hannibal. He indeed employed his Sphendonetai at the battle of Gaugamela to harass the Persian heavy cavalry. The goal was to provoke them to give fight, and he cut them off from the rest of the Persian army, charging them with the Hetairoi.

Kentrosphendone



The Kestrosphendone: Polybius "dart-slinger". A late Hellenitic invention describe by the famous author of "histories", and Livy on the Roman side, repotred their use in 168 BC. by Macedonians ff King Perseus during the Third Macedonian war, against Roman legionaries. Poliybius depiction is confusing, but it appeared that a kestros (dart) was thrown by slings, longer and stronger than uusual, rather than bullets. Experimental reconstructions based on the available information gave good results but the level of skills needed were superior, an in any case this weapon disappeared, whereas the dart was still used by the Romans as the plumbata (see later). The weapon disappeared from history, as well as the one-time string to a slingstone made of lead. The advantage of the dart was to stabilized itself in flight, increasing accuracy and lowering the air braking effect of a free-rotating projectile, as it was the case usually. The range too, was important, up to 200 meters, and the heavy point was armor-piercing.

Rhodian slingers

The Rhodians became famous for their immense statue, their fleet and... their mercenary slingers during the antiquity. They were as reputed as were the baleares, but perhaps not as skilled, and were used by the Hellenistic powers of the Diadochi era quite extensively. Like the Balearic islanders, they were lilely shepherds, naturally skilled with a sling in a comparatively rocky place. Part of the "Psiloi" at the vanguard with archers and javelineers, and Rhodian slingers appear very early, alongside the Cretan archers during the march of the ten thousand. The Greeks were continuously bombarded by the Persians and only retaliated when the Rhodians stepped up. Their superior range drive Persian archers away, allowing to form the main square, and continue marching.

The 'Sphendonetai Rhodioi' were well equipped, with a shield, sword, knife, and sometimes an armored in padded linen 'half-cuirass' while their sling was made of leather as well as hemp and flaxen cord. They made significant contribution to the Greek and hellenistic Armies tactics and were still mentioned used by the Romans, but past the civil war and Imperial era, their use became sketchy. They were still recoignised being able of sniping and killing cavalry and especially general's bodyguards.

Roman Funditore

funditore The simplicity of the weapon makes wonder to historians, if slingers were not a part of the levied militia called to defend Rome in the early period (pre-Marian). The lowest class of Leves, which fought "ad pugnam" (with their bare hands) could have also thrown stones or used whatever available at hand, a club, fork, staff, to defend themselves. Roman slingers generally belonged to foreign nations. But among the Romans, local slingers were men drawn from the fifth class of the census of Servius. They were formed into a body attached to the levis armatura or part of the lightly armed troops. Not regarded as regular troops, they were posted last among supernumeraries, trumpets and music (Livy I, 43) and carried neither defensive nor offensive weapon, except for their sling ("funda"), mostly used to disturb and provoke the enemy, in whatever place of the battlefield they were placed (Sallian, Jug 99; Val. Max. II, 7, § 9 and 15). The difference between the accensi, the funditores and ferentarii, which Vegetius distinguishes (Mil. I, 20), consisted, it seems, in that the former only used the hands to throw their stones, while the second employed a slingshot for this purpose; and that the last, who were of a higher rank than the other two, probably had other weapons than the slingshot.

However Rome recoignised the usefulness of slingers early on, and hires them as auxiliaries, and the first 'funditores', Latin for 'slingers', were recruited to supplement Legions on campaign as early as in the Punic Wars, 3rd century BC. They also hired mercenaries from the Balearic islands, were children were supposed to 'sling for their dinners'. In the eastern Mediterranean, there was no shortage of islands to supply the Roman Army, and Cretans were also skilled skirmishers, notably slingers (as well as archers), or Rhodes. Imperial Rome's almost constant wars in the east also pressed local skirmishers into the fight. Their equipment varied over time. Mercenaries and early auxilia came with their own "tools", but in the imperial era, better organization within the Roman army had slingers equipped with helmets, better pouch and spare slings, and lead bullets made by the local workshop, much more efficient. Also in the Imperial era, the use of a staff sling and flechette (dart) allowed slingers to throw deadlier projectiles "missiles" at larger range. They followed the army at all times and became part of the typical triple layer of skirmishers of the Roman army, with javelineers and archers.



Let's notice that there was in the Roman army a manual catapult thrower using the "funda", a loop made of linen or horse hair (Veg. Mil. 2,23; 3,14; Sil. Pun. 1,314f.) to catapulted small rocks or lead balls (Liv. 38,20,1; Tac. Ann. 13,39,3). They were mainly used on the wings to start the battle, or cover the retreat and in the defence of a besieged city (Veg. Mil. 1,16; 4,22). The funditores, were lightly armed soldiers originally part of a Roman legion (Liv. 1,43,7; Veg. Mil. 1,20; 2,2;).

One unit of Funditores was listed in the Notitia Dignitatum in the Eastern Empire, and in the western as well. Vegetius recommended using slingers during siege battles as a personal advice and tactical advice, as did Maurikios, but the latter argued that each legionary should carry a sling, which did not took much space. They seems to have been replaced completely by the Plumbatarii, but the Romans used them quite late. Against fritigern's Goth seemingly, according to this citation:
3. quo malo praeter spem Gothi perculsi et concito quam considerato civium adsultu perterriti steterunt inmobiles, laceratique ad ultimum detestatione atque conviciis et temptati missilium iactibus raris ad defectionem erupere confessam, et caesis plurimis, quos impetus deceperat petulantior, aversisque residuis et telorum varietate confixis, habitu iam Romano cadaveribus spoliatis armati, viso propius Fritigerno iunxerunt semet ut morigeri socii urbemque clausam obsidionalibus aerumnis urgebant. in qua difficultate diutius positi, passim et promiscue ruebant, eminensque aliquorum audacia peribat inulta, multique sagittis et rotatis per fundas lapidibus interibant. meaning "...and many died because of arrows and the slinged stones, fired by the slingers." (Ammnianus).

Fustibalus: Or "staff sling", one of many variant of the sling. It's basically combining the lever effect with a sling to achieve greater velocities than the one-move overhand throw. It is still unknown if it was pioneered by the Greeks, the the Romans used it as reported by ancient authors. During the medieval era it was known as a fustibale (French). It consisted of a staff with a short sling at the end. One cord of the sling was attached to the stave while the other looped abd could slide off for release. Staff slings used at best the lever effect. The longer was the staff, the better the effect. The staff sling was reputed to have the same or superior range to the standard sling, but like the latter, accuracy needed skills and practice. It would aslo fire heavier missiles and was well suited for sieges, with very steep trajectories to pass above walls while the the staff could receuive a spearpoint and be used in close combat if needed. It could to throw heavier projectiles on a greater arc but will less terminal velocity (but gravity). Staff slings were maintained at least until the gunpowder age, used as grenade launchers, and in fixed or mounted forms for ship-to-ship combat, throwing incendiaries. The last known use of slings was during the Spanish Civil war in 1936-39, when in urban combat, belligerents used it to throw grenades over the roofs an through windows on the other side of streets. Late Empire funditore (by Johnny Shumate)

Jewish slingers

There is also a strong pastolarlist culture among the ancient Palestinian tribes and in general peoples of the near middle east, now Lebanon and southern Syria. The sling became soon the ranged weapon of choice as showed by the David vs. Goliath mythical fight to secure the indpendence of the Jewish state from the Phillistines. The tribe of Benjamin had 700 picked men, every one being a slinger "to a hairbreadth and would not miss" (Jg 20:15, 16). Targums said that the Cherethites and the Pelethites among David’s warriors were adept slingers also and slingmen were still an important part of King Uzziah’s force. (2Ch 26:13, 14). Sennacherib also employed a corps of slingers in the Assyrian army as shown in monuments. The Egyptians, Syrians, Persians, Sicilians, had slinger divisions, Rhodians but aso Jewish. Josephus related Jewish slingers prowesses against Roman forces (XVII, 259 (x, 2), The Jewish War, II, 422, 423 (xvii, 5); IV, 14, 15 (i, 3). This tradition was carried out through the existence of the state and until the Egyptian conquest and later Persian conquest, up to the fall of Persia and Diadochi era. The seleucids at first hired them, but they also had to deal with many revolts, where slingers became commonplace. Most famous among them were the Maccabees (Makabim), rebels which formed eventually the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, supported by the Romans during the civil war until Judaea became a Roman province. The latter had to deal with rebellions where "zealots" were particularly actve. In fact the early imperial wars in Judaea, signalled with archers during the Great Revolt, first Jewish–Roman War of 66–73 AD.

Other uses


Medieval slingers

Although a bit off-topic, the sling left so many rememberance as a fiesome weapon of war that it was never really dropped of armies of early medieval ear, up to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, as gunpowder arrived and condemned its use. It was popular in medieval spain, as well as the staff sling. But it was also used by the Sassanid armies and Islamic armies as well. Slingers were widespread in Medieval Europe, cited in the 8th century in Charlemagne's foot soldiers (staff slings) with brought wagon loads of staff slings and lead balls on campaign. Ottonian kings also the used them, depicted participating in the siege of Jerusalem and in records from Edward I of England in the 14th century, used during the siege of Stirling castle. 16th cent. Spanish Conquistadores met them in meso-america as both Inca and Aztecs also used them with proficiency. They are described in many drawings, paintings and bas reliefs. As in the west they were raised among shepherds, taking care of sheeps and llamas. The Tēmātlatl was a sling made from maguey fiber. The Aztecs used oval shaped rocks or hand molded clay balls, filled with obsidian flakes or pebbles as projectiles. These slings typically had a long cradle, thin and with a long slit. Andean slings had contrasting colours of wool, with complex braids and fine workmanship shown. Ceremonial slings were large but non-functional, still used to this day, in parts of the Andes dances and in mock battles. Llamas also moved away from the sound of a stone landing. Bernal Diaz del Castillo described the the hail of stones so furious that even well armored Spanish soldiers were wounded and in 1491's New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, historian Charles C. Mann quoted a conquistador saying a slingshot "could break a sword in two pieces" and "kill a horse". But these were 2.2 metres (86 in) long and weighting 410 grams (14.4 oz).

Sources/Read More

The ancient slinger by Edward C. Echols, J.Hopkins Univ.
Roman slingers on scientificamerican.com
Video about accuracy
on wikipedia










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