General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Parthians

Message started by TechStuf on Apr 19th, 2004 at 12:30am

Title: Parthians
Post by TechStuf on Apr 19th, 2004 at 12:30am
I was blown away recently upon learning of the ancient empire of Parthia.....I have yet to ascertain whether or not they used the sling, but their culture was widespread and of great importance in their time!  It is amazing that so little is known of them today considering they were contemporaries of Rome. (what am I saying, it is precisely this fact that probably relegated them to the cobwebbed corners of history).....I can definitely see 'movie potential' here if even a 1/4 of what I have read about them is true.   Modern archers today still reference the act of shooting the bow from horseback towards the rear at a closely pursuing enemy as the 'Parthian Shot'!    The Parthians used it to great effect by sending a small cavalry contingent against the Romans to lure them to attack and then appear to turn and run in panic, only to let the Romans gain on them and turn in unison to shoot their pursuers in the chest  while their main cavalry swarmed in from flanking positions!   One particular battle saw Rome's worst defeat against a contemporary rival with over 70,000 of Rome's forces lost.  The Parthian empire survived for 500 years with the minting of coinage uninterrupted.   It is said that the Parthians could not have formed such an empire, much less maintained it without their specific breed of horse,  you guessed it,  the Parthian horse.  It dominated the battlefield with much the same advantage that a modern battletank has over the automobile.   Only, get this,  their 'battletank' not only dwarfed the 'car'......but was faster with more endurance!   It is recorded by her enemies that Parthian warriors entered battle covered head to foot in a type of chainmail as were their horses!   They took sling and arrow hits and kept on coming and were so feared by even the Romans that the Romans sued for peace on many occasions to avoid battle.   That truly would be something to see.   So little is known by the public at large of such an interesting culture, and it is only recently that Parthia has begun to be recognized by many mainstream historians as the influential empire it was.    I highly recommend the following book to any among us who actively study ancient cultures:

Parthia : The Forgotten Ancient Superpower And Its Role In Biblical History -  by Steven M. Collins

Eye opening stuff... ;)

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Johnny on Apr 19th, 2004 at 11:15am
I think the term "Parthian shot" was changed over time to "Parting shot". The correct term is "Parthian shot". The Romans had to adapt and re-armour their cavalry  in order to deal with the Parthian cataphracts(heavily armored cavalry). Where can I order this book?

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by TechStuf on Apr 19th, 2004 at 2:02pm
Hi Johnny,  the book is available at:

A scholarly work with all references cited.  

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Johnny on Apr 19th, 2004 at 2:09pm
Thanks Tech
I'll look at the site.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by srgs9 on Apr 19th, 2004 at 2:51pm
I always wondered where that saying came from.  On a Parthian shot(couldnt help it) I'll try and find the book as well.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Mithras on Apr 25th, 2004 at 7:28am
Yes, the Parthians certainly had slingers. Their infantry was en masse and second rate levy peasants (literally spear carriers) with some mercenary skirmishers from the mountains such as Daylamite archers, Armenian javelinmen and slingers ... lots of slingers!

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by english on Apr 25th, 2004 at 8:52am
I knew about the Parthian archers, but had no idea about any slingers they might have had.  I know that the Battle of Carrhae is a famous battle between Romans and Parthians, famous because of the number of arrows that were brought in in stacks on the backs of camels.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Teg on Sep 6th, 2017 at 3:56pm
By change I stumbled over the following: (in German, bottom of the page)

Bargustuwān-warān (parthian-persian heavy armored cavalry) shall have been partially equipped with slings and matching stones. The original source cited in the wikipedia article is: 

Theodor Nöldeke: Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sasaniden. Aus der arabischen Chronik des Tabari. Übersetzt und mit ausführlichen Erläuterungen und Ergänzungen versehen. Brill, Leiden 1879, S. 248 f. (Nachdruck. ebenda 1973, ISBN 90-04-03624-5).

which I have not checked for details.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Morphy on Sep 7th, 2017 at 2:52pm
So this article is saying the heavy calvary was equipped with slings?

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Teg on Sep 7th, 2017 at 3:26pm
Basically yes. It lists all the equipment and states in the end: "a few were carrying also a lasso (mp. kamand) or a sling together with the corresponding stones."

For more details I fear you'll have to learn either german or arabic to check either the cited source or the "cronics of tabari", from which the german source seems to have the information.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Teg on Sep 7th, 2017 at 3:30pm
I have to be a bit more precise: The list of equipment and the sentence about the sling refers to "persian sassanidian clibanarii"

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Morphy on Sep 7th, 2017 at 9:16pm
So assuming they belong to the Cataphracts, thats an interesting idea. Heavy Calvary would have been one of the most expensive troops of that time. To combine that with slings which would be a peasants weapon shows the difference in cultural mindset between them and the English/French of later times.

I imagine thats not a horrible idea idea though. Every horseman but the front line could potentially take his sling out and barrage the enemy from close range. Thats an interesting visual compared to what we usually see in Western movies with heavily armored horsemen.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Teg on Sep 10th, 2017 at 11:43am
I really wonder how and with which tactis such a weapon would be used from horseback in a dense formation. Two bows and arrows are also listed in the equipment. So "skirmishing" seems to have been also an option.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by funditor on Jul 11th, 2018 at 2:30pm
I managed to read some of the original, and actually here I think the term Schlinge refers more to a kind of leather lasso than to a sling for shooting. They passed by Infantry or other cavalry out of reach of the close range weapons, and caught the with the lasso dragging them for some time, then having them incapacitated taken as prisoner or killed... Mounted slingers would be cool, but not in this literature source to my interpretation...

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Teg on Jul 12th, 2018 at 3:35am

funditor wrote on Jul 11th, 2018 at 2:30pm:
I managed to read some of the original

Do you mean the book by Nöldeke?

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by funditor on Jul 12th, 2018 at 5:26am
Yes, the book by Nöldeke. He mentions twice in the book (249, 280) that the sling they used is more similar in shape and functionality to a "lazo", used to throw it over other people, and this was used as a weapon in the Iranian highlands, already mentioned in Herod., 7. 85.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by Curious Aardvark on Jul 13th, 2018 at 7:22am
sounds almost like a bolas.

Title: Re: Parthians
Post by funditor on Jul 14th, 2018 at 8:29am
As he used the termini Schlinge and Lazo, I rather suggest that slme kind of loop is involved, like the Cowboy Lasso, wher you can drag the captured individual Forum » Powered by YaBB 2.5.2!
YaBB Forum Software © 2000-2019. All Rights Reserved.