Ancient Sling - GS01

Ancient Sling

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The sling is a weapon both ancient and simple. Though crude, its power is not to be dismissed, for the sling is the weapon that slew Goliath. Though tall, powerful and well armoured, the champion Goliath was laid low by a simple sling stone to the brow from the comparatively diminutive David. Even if you believe the tale to be mere allegory, this demonstration of the sling is wholly accurate. Even armored foes could fall to some sling shot.

A definitively true retelling of David and Goliath echoes down in history during Caesar’s Civil War. When Caesar’s Legions faced the 64 charging war elephants of Pompey’s ally, the Numidian King Juba, Caesar’s slingers showered the trumpeting elephants with leaden sling shot, frightening the leading animals and killing some of the mahouts. In a panic to escape and beyond control, the elephants turned tail, stampeding their bulk through Juba’s own army.

The sling was particularly useful when defending a fortification - over 40,000 sling bullets have been found at Maiden Castle in England. When the Romans besieged Masada, they had to endure a persistent shower of sling bullets from the Israelites.

The sling was a common weapon in the ancient world, used by almost all cultures and was common even in Mesoamerica. It can often be underestimated by its simplicity among nobler weapons but modern tests give credence to historical sources that stress its lethality and range. A well thrown sling with leaden shot could launch a bullet 400 meters. Unlike a bow which can only fire carefully crafted arrows, a sling can, in a pinch, throw simple stones from the ground. A variety of ammunition was used through the ages in slings - the better examples being smooth river stones and standardized bullets of hardened clay.

Ideally, weighted lead shot was used by the Greeks and Romans. These heavy metal bullets were called ‘’glandes plumbeae’’ - ‘’leaden acorns’’ by the Romans. When thrown from the sling, these bullets were nearly impossible to see in flight, and did terrible damage to foes, even breaking bone beneath armor. Shot was often marked or cast with slogans and symbols, such as a lightning bolt, scorpion, or sarcastic phrases such as ‘’catch!’’, ‘’take this!’’, ‘’ouch!’’ and even ‘’For Pompey’s Backside!’’. Perhaps some slingers sought to mark their kills after battle by identifying their shot lodged in the slain. A particularly novel use of clay shot is documented by Caesar, whereby the clay shot was heated to high temperature and launched into settlements to set thatched roofs afire.

The best slingers of the ancient world came from the Balearic Islands near Spain, where several contemporary sources attest to the practice of mothers forbidding children to eat until they struck their supper with a stone! Although rarely used by the medieval period, the sling makes a brief modern resurgence during the Spanish Civil War, where it was used to lob grenades over city buildings and onto adjacent streets.

This sling is made of leather with braided organic hemp cord. It comes with written instructions on how to do three different sling casts.

Overall Length: 27''
Weight: 1.2 oz

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