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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Mexican Sling
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Message started by Asturian on Mar 13th, 2008 at 6:53pm

Title: Mexican Sling
Post by Asturian on Mar 13th, 2008 at 6:53pm
in my search of how to do a Tematlatl ( ancient Mexicans' sling) i have found that the old warriors of México used to heat the stones in a fire for a reasonable time so that they would do more damage upon contact on enemy because you may know, not all indigenous warriors had a cotton armor so even if the stone didn't kill the enemy instantly, i would incarnate easilier into the opponent's skin or at least leave a nasty burn. Im not sure about the source of this info, but it seems as a good idea  ;)

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by Camo-sling on Mar 14th, 2008 at 2:30am
I searched Tematlatl on google and found a link to the Aztecs on wikipedia.
Their society looks impressive apart from the fact that they sacrificed their people to their Gods by cutting out their heart. That sounds just a little bit disturbing.  :-?

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_warfare#Equipment)

Can you tell me a little bit about this maguey fiber please? Is it rare to find and is it plant fiber bassed?

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by MammotHunter on Mar 14th, 2008 at 5:57am

Asturian wrote on Mar 13th, 2008 at 6:53pm:
in my search of how to do a Tematlatl ( ancient Mexicans' sling)  not all indigenous warriors had a cotton armor so even if the stone didn't kill the enemy instantly, i would incarnate easilier into the opponent's skin or at least leave a nasty burn.


LOL, mate, I hope you mean, incinerate! Incarnate means, "to invest with physical, especially human form, or to make comprehensible or understandable." Incinerate means "to cause to burn." Though, thinking about it, clothing taking human form in your skin would be pretty horrific...

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by wanderer on Mar 14th, 2008 at 7:19am
The use of heated stones sounds pretty nasty. It just also seems it would be rather awkward in practice except in circumstances such as sieges.

I can recall mention of their use with the sling from other places as well, although in both cases the historic reference was to do with using them to set fire to thatched roofs.

I can't remember the details (someone else here probably does, and I really ought to go look for it ;)) but the Conquistadors were involved in a siege during which the Inca (I think) slingers set fire to roofs. Also, such missiles were reported in conflicts between the Romans and Ancient Britons, again in setting fire to thatched roofs.

Maguey is from the Agave plant - I've never been sure how specific to species the term really is. Wikipedia has articles on this, but I havn't checked through it. It's definitely not rare, which is good for lovers of tequila ;).


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 14th, 2008 at 7:45am
so is the agave fibre naturally heat/fire resistant or would the sling have been treated to avoid it's own combustion.

And how hot would a rock need to be to actually set fire to something ?
Wouldn't the rapid transition through the air prior to impact cool it down to the point where it might cause burns but not actually set fire to stuff.

Or did they coat the stones with pitch and set fire to it first ?
which definitely would work but would give even more problems with the sling.

Interesting one this.


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by MammotHunter on Mar 14th, 2008 at 9:27am

wanderer wrote on Mar 14th, 2008 at 7:19am:
The use of heated stones sounds pretty nasty. It just also seems it would be rather awkward in practice except in circumstances such as sieges.

I can recall mention of their use with the sling from other places as well, although in both cases the historic reference was to do with using them to set fire to thatched roofs.

I can't remember the details (someone else here probably does, and I really ought to go look for it ;)) but the Conquistadors were involved in a siege during which the Inca (I think) slingers set fire to roofs. Also, such missiles were reported in conflicts between the Romans and Ancient Britons, again in setting fire to thatched roofs.

Maguey is from the Agave plant - I've never been sure how specific to species the term really is. Wikipedia has articles on this, but I havn't checked through it. It's definitely not rare, which is good for lovers of tequila ;).

The anecdote was from "1491" by Charles Mann,  and was referring to the Spanish Conquest of the Inkan people, specifically, the siege of the city, Qusco. "On page 84, he includes a section of the most feared Inkan weapon, the sling.
"Experts could hurl a stone, the Spanish adventurer Alonso Enriquez de Guzman wrote, 'with such force that it will kill a horse...I have seen a stone, thus hurled from a sling, break a sword in two pieces when held in a man's hand at a distance of 30 paces.' Later he goes on to describe what is so far, my favourite passsage of the book.  
"In a frightening innovation, the Inka heated stones in campfires unitl they were red hot, and wrapped them in pitched-soaked cotton, and hurled them at their targets. The cotton caught fire in midair. In a sudden onslaught, the sky would rain burning missiles. During a counterattack in May 1536, an Inka army used these missiles to burn Spanish occupied Qosqo (Cusco) to the ground. Unable to step outside, the conquistadors cowered in shelters beneath a relentless, weeks-long barrage of flaming stone."
It's a really great book, and would be even without this information, and has been an eye-opening read into the true story of pre-columbian american societies. Even I, who commonly attributes great success to pre-columbian people on their own merits, have been surprised numerous times by the true picture of their accomplishments.

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by wanderer on Mar 14th, 2008 at 9:29am

Curious Aardvark wrote on Mar 14th, 2008 at 7:45am:
so is the agave fibre naturally heat/fire resistant or would the sling have been treated to avoid it's own combustion.

And how hot would a rock need to be to actually set fire to something ?
Wouldn't the rapid transition through the air prior to impact cool it down to the point where it might cause burns but not actually set fire to stuff.

Or did they coat the stones with pitch and set fire to it first ?
which definitely would work but would give even more problems with the sling.

Interesting one this.

Sisal is one of the agave fibers, and not much different I think from true Maguey.

Ignition temperature of paper, which isn't I suppose much different from straw, is 451F (at least according to Bradbury!) or about 233C.

They may have set fire to pitch, or something like that, but I think that the technique may have been simpler, but also rather cleverer :D.

If you heat the stone for some reasonable amount of time to maybe (300C?) then you can take it out, let it cool for a brief time, and the temperature of the outside will fall while the temperature of the inside remains very close to the  value it had in the fire. You could then transfer it to an ordinary sling, and throw it. The air will cool the outside further, but when the projectile drops into thatch it's being very well insulated. As a result, the outside of the stone will get hotter again as the heat continues to flow from it's center, and so could easily rise high enough to reach the ignition point for thatch, even if you sling it from a flammable sling. Because of this process, it might take a significant time after the stone lands for the thatch to catch fire. I think one of the descriptions of slingers using this technique referred to the puzzlement of the victims as to why their roofs were bursting in to flame - perhaps this was the reason.

For this all to work you need a material with fairly high heat capacity but poor(ish) thermal conduction. Stones and clay fits the bill a lot better than lead.

I think they might also have helped insulate the sling by perhaps wrapping the stone in a leaf, which would then fly off as they threw it.

Hmm... lots of cooking analogies here. I have an image of people slinging hot baked potatoes - could be nasty on bare flesh :(

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by wanderer on Mar 14th, 2008 at 9:38am
Mammothunter,

You beat me to the reply. I hadn't read the '1491' book, but it sounds like it has more detail than I remember reading - I had even forgotten that Cuzco was involved. It also disagrees with my speculations in the previous post about their method. However I'll leave those as a testament to how wide of the mark speculation can be.

Anyway, maybe the method I proposed was used in Britain. ;D

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 16th, 2008 at 9:57am

Quote:
In a frightening innovation, the Inka heated stones in campfires unitl they were red hot, and wrapped them in pitched-soaked cotton


Now that makes sense. Insulate the stone so the the air just adds oxygen to the ignitable wrappings.
Nice stuff.
So - next question, who wants to try it and video it ?

I reckon someone who has alot of campfires might give it a go - slingbadger ? ;-)

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by wanderer on Mar 16th, 2008 at 11:33am
Some years ago lobohunter did describe heating some bolts up and slinging them at his fence. Maybe he'd be up to do that again with some video technology.

That was in response to a question from a British archaeologist about setting fire to things with slings during Roman times.

It's interesting that such 'improvements' appear in perhaps slightly different details in different parts of the world. People have always had an interest in making nasty weapons even nastier!

There was also the interesting point in Asturian's post that this appears to have been described in use as an 'anti-personnel' tactic, which I had not seen before.


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by Ethan on Mar 16th, 2008 at 11:03pm
I may be able to give it a go... The hardest bit would be finding some stones this time of year... I'll see if I can get my brother to do some taping.
Obviously not tomorrow, because it's St. Patrick's Day... But maybe Tuesday. I'll see.

Sounds like a fun experiment though... I don't have pitch. What would be equivalent? Kerosene comes to mind, but that's awful risky...  :-?

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by winkleried on Mar 21st, 2008 at 1:46am
I think there was either an article on the homepage or maybe i was a general discussion thread about how to make your own pitch, might be something to look into, Otherwise try Roofing Tar,

Marc Adkins


Ethan wrote on Mar 16th, 2008 at 11:03pm:
I may be able to give it a go... The hardest bit would be finding some stones this time of year... I'll see if I can get my brother to do some taping.
Obviously not tomorrow, because it's St. Patrick's Day... But maybe Tuesday. I'll see.

Sounds like a fun experiment though... I don't have pitch. What would be equivalent? Kerosene comes to mind, but that's awful risky...  :-?


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 22nd, 2008 at 12:21pm
yeah you really need something a bit more viscous than kerosene.
It needs to be seriously flammable but at the same not prone to giving off volatile vapours (cos that's where the slinger gets his fingers burnt)

Roofing tar is probably the only thing available in the shops. ooh ooh (lightbulb over the head moment).
Just use that gel stuff that's used for lighting bbqs.
That's pretty viscous and would soak into cloth easily enough.
In fact any of the gelled fuels you can buy now for camping cookers should do the trick. They burn well but don't give off dangerous vapours and they are viscous enough to do the trick :-)


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by Ethan on Mar 24th, 2008 at 9:23pm
OK, Sterno? I think I'll give it a go tomorrow... I think I've got some sterno sitting around somewhere. I'll just make a simple sling (no point in risking a nice one!) and let fly.

I doubt it'll be quite the same, but it'll be fun!  ;D

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by Ethan on Mar 25th, 2008 at 10:03pm
OK, the official opinion is that Sterno sucks. It didn't even stay lit through my windup (which was very short.)

In the foggy future, I might try the same thing with pitch. Anyone else could give it a go as well... C_A. perhaps you could test that BBQ stuff?

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by slingbadger on Mar 26th, 2008 at 11:27am
Ethan, you could make a type of pitch from beeswax and pine sap. ( I know you have enough of that in Maine)
You could dip the cloth in that. It's very good for fires.
I think the reason Sterno did not work is that it's mostly alcohol, which has a low burning temp, plus can be put out with the slightest breeze

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by wanderer on Mar 26th, 2008 at 12:12pm
Ethan,

Did you heat the stones? If the stone is hot enough the incendiary materials should reignite if there is the right mix of volatiles in the pitch.


Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 26th, 2008 at 1:02pm
yep I think you've not quite grasped the sequence of events that's supposed to work ethan.
You heat the rock till it's red hot. Then you wrap it in colth and soak that in the flammable substance or wrap it with presoaked cloth - I'd get hold of those heatproof kevlar gloves for this - they sell them in most cookware shops now.
It's not supposed to ignite untill you sling it - sounds like you are lighting it first.
Also if you read some of the earlier posts the missile might not ignite even then it might need further insulating to bring the heat of the rock back up - like while embedded in a flat roof.
If you were to sling it into a straw bale - that might work as a suitable substitute for a thatch roof.

If I can work out a way to do it safely I'll maybe give it a go in june. I could heat the rock in the bbq :-)

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by slingbadger on Mar 26th, 2008 at 6:44pm
Also,( I'm sure yuo heard this in Scouts, but I'll nag you anyway) make sure that the stones that you use areDRY. If you heat a stone that is moist in anyway, it will explode. I've had enough of this happen to me.

Title: Re: Mexican Sling
Post by Ethan on Mar 27th, 2008 at 11:17pm

Curious Aardvark wrote on Mar 26th, 2008 at 1:02pm:
yep I think you've not quite grasped the sequence of events that's supposed to work ethan.
You heat the rock till it's red hot.

Bit of a problem with this - I didn't have a fire. I can see about setting this up early next week... With a real fire, some dry stones, and probably burlap would be good? Obviously, I'll wear gloves and such. Badger, what's the procedure on the pitch stuff?



slingbadger wrote on Mar 26th, 2008 at 6:44pm:
Also,( I'm sure yuo heard this in Scouts, but I'll nag you anyway) make sure that the stones that you use areDRY. If you heat a stone that is moist in anyway, it will explode. I've had enough of this happen to me.


Heard?! Done!!  ;)

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