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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
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Message started by Mithras on Apr 30th, 2004 at 4:21pm

Title: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Mithras on Apr 30th, 2004 at 4:21pm
How about this use of the sling as an espionage tool in Appian's The Foreign Wars, recounting Rome's invasion of Greece (and here, the city of  Athens) under Sulla:

[31] Two Athenian slaves in the Pirĉus -- either because they favored the Romans or were looking out for their own safety in an emergency -- wrote down everything that took place there, enclosed their writing in leaden balls, and threw them over to the Romans with slings. As this was done continually it came to the knowledge of Sulla, who gave his attention to the missives and found one which said, "To-morrow the infantry will make a sally in front upon your workers, and the cavalry will attack the Roman army on both flanks." Sulla placed an adequate force in ambush and when the enemy dashed out with the thought that their movement would completely surprise him he gave them a greater surprise with his concealed force, killing many and driving the rest into the sea. This was the end of that enterprise.

Is that cool - or what??

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Hobb on Apr 30th, 2004 at 5:58pm
The sling as ancient spy-tech.  Awesome!  "And this, Mr. Bond, is a centipetal missive transference device.  Don't swing it about, James, it's not a toy!"

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Johnny on Apr 30th, 2004 at 6:47pm
Mithras
That is some great information! I'll have to look up Appian at my local library!
Johnny

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Douglas on May 4th, 2004 at 1:25pm
Maybe it's just me, but finding a specific sling-stone after its been thrown has always been a chancy affair for me...

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Johnny on May 4th, 2004 at 1:33pm
Maybe they thought it was a fortune cookie with the little note thingy hanging out.
Johnny

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Chris on May 4th, 2004 at 4:17pm
Another projectile type to add to the list: message.

Chris

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by siguy on May 8th, 2006 at 7:45pm
i think that this was disscussed in another topic somewhere pretty recently.  we discussed clay balls which would break open on impact as another possible chamber.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Willeke on May 9th, 2006 at 2:01am
I know it was discussed recently, that is one of the reasons I did move this thread to this part of the forum.

Willeke

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Leeds_Lobber on May 10th, 2006 at 5:30am
yes, it was discussed.

The spies must have been in contact with Lucius Cornelius Sulla before the siege bit, as like you say, who would be picking up sling bullets and reading the messages scratched in unless they knew to look for them?

Pat Stoddart
Mithridates Eupator Fanboy.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by lobohunter on May 10th, 2006 at 11:07am
It seem to me that the spies would have a target zone.
And receivers would know the pick up area. It still seem like there would be a fair chance of the messages following into the wrong hands

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by slingbadger on May 11th, 2006 at 12:43pm
Nahnahnah!  Someone would simply catch it! ;)

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by CanDo on May 15th, 2006 at 5:05pm

wrote on May 10th, 2006 at 11:07am:
It seem to me that the spies would have a target zone.
And receivers would know the pick up area. It still seem like there would be a fair chance of the messages following into the wrong hands



Encryption :)
I once spent about a week just thinking about making encryptions, and so came up with a system. It involved many changes with many shifting tables, randomly generated keys, many more randomly generated tables. The message cycled through hundreds of times. Even the file which was the 'key' needed to be processed over and over to become useful. All in all the whole thing was extraordinarily convuluted. My friend then made it in Java. Even though the TI-83 could only give "ERR: OVERFLOW", I don't suppose it would have taken more than 30 sec for the NSA :P    Well, that was fun.

For that time period, I'm sure that simple old "wrap around the broom handle" would have been adequate encryption.




Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by siguy on May 15th, 2006 at 5:37pm
wrap around the broom handle?  i am unfamiliar with this type of encryption.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by CanDo on May 15th, 2006 at 5:43pm
Alright so,
You have a long strip of paper or something else to write on. You then wrap it in a spiral around a cylinder and write your message across horizontally. When you take the paper off, there are gaps in between the letters. Fill those in with more letters.


If I seriously had to get a message to someone via sling though, I'd have pre established code words. It's very simple and effective.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Taiki on May 15th, 2006 at 6:34pm
codes can be broken and words that are placed out of context are very suspicious the easyest way of doing this is make up a language with a friend and use it that way...

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by siguy on May 15th, 2006 at 6:55pm
i made up a completely random code once, using the japanese figure symbol inserts in wordperfect.  noone would ever be able to figure that one out, especially because one of the characters shares two letters in the english alphabet.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by Taiki on May 15th, 2006 at 8:42pm
those are easy to break... give it to a person who speaks the language and hell figure it out in no time because if one thinks logically the egyptian alphabet is Extremely complicated and nobody had ever seen it... people speak it these days and that language has been dead for at least 1000 years

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by CanDo on May 15th, 2006 at 10:52pm
yeah, a monoalphabetic cipher can be broken with great ease..... It may be difficult if you are only sending one word, but if you were to send even a long sentence it wouldn't take much to figure out.

P.S. If you're really interested in this, try this site for the basics.
http://www.umich.edu/~umich/fm-34-40-2/

Edit again:
The final program that we came up with didn't work with letters, it actually functioned on the byte level. Much more secure, and you could encrypt anything.

Title: Re: Sling Spies in the Mithradaitic Wars
Post by slingbadger on May 16th, 2006 at 10:58am
The broomhandle code is called "Skytale", and dates back to the Greeks. At the time, it was an uncrackable code. You needed to have two dowels the same size to read the message. Both sides would have multi sizes of dowels to keep people guessing.
 PS. I use this all te time, when I do quests with my Scouts. It drives them totally up the wall.  

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