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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Slings against Caesar
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Message started by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 22nd, 2009 at 7:09pm

Title: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 22nd, 2009 at 7:09pm
One of the rare defeats which Julius Caesar’s forces suffered during the Gallic Wars - or his entire military career -  was the battle of Atuatuca (or Aduatuca) , an unidentified place somewhere in the Ardennes, in the fall of 54 BC. One legion and a half (between 5.000 and 7.500 legionaries, not counting the auxiliaries, technicians, doctors, administrative staff, slave traders etc.)  under the command of lieutenants (legati) Sabinus and Cotta had been sent by Caesar to spend the winter of 54/53 among the Celto-Germanic tribe of the Eburones. Shortly after building up their winter fortifications, they were persuaded by the Eburone chief Ambiorix to leave their camp and head westward. An hour or so after their departure, Ambiorix and his men attacked them while they were marching through a valley. The legions were not able to break out of the valley, and only few legionaries survived the following battle and massacre.

Instead of giving you a boring summary of the battle in my poor English, I hint at a translation of the Caesar passage in http://classics.mit.edu/Caesar/gallic.5.5.html, (chapters 26-37) or the Latin original on http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/caesar/gall5.shtml#26 (and on many other sites, of course)

Reading the description carefully, I am convinced that the sling played an essential and decisive role in this battle (which, by the way, inflicted the heaviest losses on Roman troops in the whole Gallic War). Although only once mentioned clearly in Caesar’s report of the battle, the sling was, in my opinion, the main weapon of the Eburones once the Romans had been pinned down in the valley.

My questions to our experts of Latin are:

1. Can telum, the Word that Caesar uses for the projectile that the Romans were volleyed with, have the common meaning of “sling projectile” or does it usually comprise other missiles (javelins, arrows, axes etc.)?

2. Does os in chapter 35 really mean “mouth”? I think it would be more appropriate to translate os funda vulneratur as “his face was wounded by a sling” (I found this in some other translations). If poor Cotta had really been hit by a slung stone or something like a Celto-Germanic kind of lead or ceramic glans in the mouth, it seems unlikely that  he would have been able to discuss with his colleague Sabinus afterwards. At least not in spoken language. A sling (projectile) wound in another part of his face was surely bad enough, though.

By the way and for the friends of other primitive weapons, the tragulae mentioned in the passage might have been something similar to the weapons discussed in http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1224247036 If I read it right, then the passage in chapter 35 utrumque femur tragula traicitur says that one “slung” tragula pierced both thighs of Centurion Balventius.

Looking forward to your opinions and
sorry for the extended post


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 22nd, 2009 at 7:49pm
I'll rise to the bait-- telum does not, I think, mean sling stones exclusively, but simply missiles. The running and retreating and running along + showers of missiles is the standard light infantry tactics in the ancient world, described in detail by Xenophon in his Hellenica for the engagement before Lechaion, where Iphikrates' peltasts wiped out a Spartan "mora"-- specifically, the throwing missiles on the unshielded side of any heavy infantry that has sallied out to drive off light armed missile troops. But this kind of game is best played by javelineers (quite difficult to sling while running, I think ?)

"os" should mean mouth, as opposed to "vultus' (face). Antiochos III was also said to have been hit in the mouth with a (sling ?) stone at the Thermopylai (Plut. Cato)

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 24th, 2009 at 7:37am

Quote:
(quite difficult to sling while running, I think ?)

Not really. You're slinging at a masssed rank of enemy - aiming not a major consideration. So a simple helicopter style would work quite well.
Also bear in mind with a sling you've got a ten fold increase i range over a hand thrown javelin.
If you've got a roman legion trapped in a valley. what could be simpler than to stand outside the valley and bombard it from relative safety.

also your account is of greek infantry whereas the romans faced gaels in the ardennes. the sling is known to be a favoured weapon of the gaels and celtic tribes in general - plenty of them found in grave goods.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 24th, 2009 at 12:54pm
I imagine it a bit like this: After the Romans have been trapped in the valley, the Eburones shower them from the flanks of the surrounding mountains, probably also from the cover of the trees, with missiles and stones, for eight (or more) hours. The Romans can neither rest nor eat nor care for their wounded. Once in a while the Eburones provoke an outbreak of a Roman cohort, decimate it with "special units" of either swift spear throwers or slingers and withdraw when they get too close, giving them a stony farewell greeting in the backs when the Romans retreat to the orb. Classical hit and run. When the Eburones see that these tactics and the permanent use of sling projectiles have cut down the number of legionaries sufficiently, they eliminate the Roman officers in a very unsportive way, then go for the final attack and hand-to-hand-combat in which they give them the coup-de-grâce.

The Eburones are described as "ignobiles" and "humiles" (c. 28). An insignificant tribe, for a long time suppressed by its neighbours and so probably without a great number of "real" (noble) warriors like  the well-known Celtic sword fighters and cavalrymen. The main body of their male population supposedly consisted of farmers and cattlemen. They cannot have, altogether, mobilised more than a few thousand men, only a small percentage of whom were experienced fighters. All the rest were people they had quickly recruited from the fields or pastures, with  simple and cheap weapons, like staffs and slings, fustibals if you combine these, very dangerous for a packed mass of heavily loaded, weary, hungry, demotivated and badly commanded Roman army in a valley.

There surely must have also been Eburone archers and spearmen and "traguleers" etc. These alone, however, can not have kept the Romans under almost permanent fire (as it seems) for more than eight hours without having been equipped with tons of javelins and arrows (which were neither cheap nor easy to produce). A few thousand slingers or fustibaleers could have used any piece of pebble or rock on the ground or broken ceramics or rotten eggs, things that most of us would not even consider as ammo. As CA said, it was probably not a matter of accuracy. The range and the terrain gave the advantage to the Eburones.

From a strategic and tactical point of view not bad for an unknown horde of barbarians. Okay, they paid the price in the following year when Caesar wiped them from the face of the earth...

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 24th, 2009 at 2:16pm
CA: the point about the parallel from Xenophon is not that they're Greeks, it's just that it's a very similar description of hit and run tactics-- done without slings, but simply with the trusty javelin adn lots of fancy, controlled footwork. With throwing thongs, a javelin reaches 80+ m (German experiments in the C19th). I assume (but never have read anything to this effect) that this kind of battle needs constant ammo resupply. (Am not sure how slings can be known as grave goods ?)

FE: nice description. Note that the Romans do whatever heavies do when faced with skirmishers-- charge, to try to close the gap and cut them down. The Eburones' counter is the normal one-- shoot and scoot, hit and run, etc. Clouds of sling-stones, and, as you say, javelins and arrows and hand thrown stones and anything that flies...-- tela proiciuntur !

The tragula that pins the ROman through both thighs: is this a Celtic heavy javelin, like the gaesum, with big barbed head ? Or a light thong propelled dart ?

The following bit is good to, the great siege of the ROman camp-- with the famous (and problematic) description of the Roman camp being showered with some kind of red hot ceramic sling bullets. Note, though, that the sally by the two centurions figures javelin-work.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 24th, 2009 at 2:42pm
In fact, a good project would be to go through Caesar's Gallic War, and notice how the sling is used (as well as other missile weapons: if I remember correctly, Vercingetorix at Alesia has a "flying brigade"-- like FE's special detachments-- of archers, who get surrounded and cut down by Caesar's specialist German cavalry)

Re. the Eburones vs. Romans battle: I wonder if part of the point isn't to provoke the Roman heavy infantry to sally out--for which you have to come close enough to goad them into responsiveness-- then take off, and then rally to accompany them back to their ranks with showers of missiles, to bleed them. As FA observes, these Celtic communities (esp. the ones on the Rhine border, cf. Helvetii) are pretty sophisticated in their fighting.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 24th, 2009 at 7:27pm
Thearos,
indeed, it would be very interesting to see how the Gallic peoples in general used the sling and other missiles against Rome (or how they should have used them but did not). Wish I had more time for these really important matters instead of a lot of the other stuff we are supposed to do during the day.

I think it is precisely because of the tactics you mentioned that Caesar criticized Sabinus' and Cottas decision to go into orb formation in this special case. Had there been no projectiles raining down on on the helpless legionaries all the time and perhaps provocations from light-footed warriors, it might have been a good formation to recover from the shock, regroup forces and counter-attack. The way it happened though, the Romans played the painful part of the sitting duck game, and the men soon lost, as Caesar said, all hope to ever get out.

It seems strange to me that Caesar does not say a word any more about the auxiliary Iberian cavalry units which, had they been disposable during the real battle, might have quickly overrun Eburone "stinging" detachments and maybe even certain slingers' key positions on the hillsides. Did they desert the field? Were they neutralised right at the beginning of the fight? Did the horses get crazy because of the bombardment? We'll probably never know.

And, yes, the "Cicero" chapter is very interesting, too, especially from our point of view as slingers and addicts of ancient missiles. I must say that I, in the few weeks that I have spent slinging and roaming about this site, I have learned a lot of absolutely new things and got a much deeper understanding for many aspects in "ancient" military history thanks to the fascinating articles and discussions found here.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 24th, 2009 at 7:56pm
The archers at Alesia: Caesar, Gallic Wars, 7.80 (archers and light armed mixed with cavalry-- when the Germans drive off the cavalry, the Gauls' light armed stay on the field-- cut off, then cut down).

About the Eburones' victory: can it be that they shoot missiles for 8 hours straight ? I wonder if it's not more structured than that-- e.g. relays of shooters, close up "provokers" with javelins, fast pursuit teams to harry the "cohortes" when they fall back, ammo carriers to keep the rain of *tela*. After all, the Roman legion isn't going anywhere very fast. Of course, these sort of roles can emerge during the battle field, as formations shake into place and position-- and after the first few reverses, when Caesar tells us that legionaries did make contact with Eburones who stood their ground, and got cut down.

Two signs of discipline: the Eburones don't run out and pillage the Roman baggage train; they're very good at falling back, because of light equipment, and *training*

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 25th, 2009 at 7:41am
Very good points. Yes, it seems more probable that the Eburones used some kind of "mixed" tactics, according to the situation and the Roman (re)actions. One more hint at what you said about their discipline and training.

I wonder how they learned this. After having been tributaries to the Atuatuci for a couple of years at least, they cannot have had great fighting experience. Maybe some raids across the Rhine to the Germanic peoples on the other side or quarrels with other "insignificant" tribes in the Ardennes, not more. My theory is that Ambiorix did some kind of secret manoeuvres / exercises with them before the battle in order to get the parts of his army coordinated. He must have been a very interesting person. A traitor from the Roman perspective, of course, lying his tongue away, forgetting all the thankfulness he owed to them. As a strategist... remarkable at least.


Quote:
The tragula that pins the ROman through both thighs: is this a Celtic heavy javelin, like the gaesum, with big barbed head ? Or a light thong propelled dart ?


Frankly: I don't know but I suppose it was the light version. On the internet I haven't found any information about it; actually, the first hints were in the other discussion in this forum which I have mentioned above. I had learned about the fact that it was a javelin thrown "by a thong" by the comments in a German Bellum Gallicum edition/translation where it was also described as a typical Gallic weapon, and I found more or less the same definition in Latin-German dictionaries. For a long time I could not really figure how this throwing could have been done until I saw a documentary some years ago on the original Olympic games where they showed one re-enacting Greek (!) throwing a spear with a thong that had been wrapped around the shaft before and gives it a rotating ("drilling") motion throughout the flight. I could then imagine its devastating effects on targets like Centurion Balventius.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 25th, 2009 at 7:56am

Quote:
Am not sure how slings can be known as grave goods ?

Simply because they are often found in graves.
Ancient gaels and celts were buried with many of their treasured possessions and often this included slings :-)

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by David Morningstar on Mar 25th, 2009 at 8:48am
This is news to me! Do you have any pics or descriptions of surviving Celt etc slings?

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by wanderer on Mar 25th, 2009 at 9:00am
This is a fascinating discussion.

On the matter of the weapon and the centurion: I get the impression that specific mentions of such details may, depending on the writer, be in the manner of expressing something exceptional about the event. Given the choice of the two weapons, I would have thought such injuries from a heavy javelin were quite commonly seen, but to have come as a surprise from a lighter and perhaps less familiar weapon?


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by David Morningstar on Mar 25th, 2009 at 10:34am
http://www.celticclans.org/projects/slings.html

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 25th, 2009 at 10:42am
C-A: I too, would be interested in references to slings in Celtic graves (I have a feeling that, for one thing, being made of organic matter, leather or fibre, they wouldn't last).


The only sling I know from the ancient world is referred to in one of the articles on this site (Thom Richardson)-- the woven sling from Egypt, ca. 800 BC, found by Flinders Petrie and now in the Univ College London museum.

It is true that sling bullets have been found in ancient tombs (Aigilia / Cerigotto / Antikythera: C. Foss, Journal of Hellenic Studies / Archaeological Reports, 1975), also an example quoted by T. Rihll-- but they might be from people's bodies...

Celtic slings: the best evidence is the huge number of sling stones found in "ammo dumps" in various British hillforts, Maiden Castle being the best known (20,000+ ones in a single depot). BTW, these were not just any stones, but carefully calibrated big round things, and brought in from a river bed, I think about 5 km from the hillfort.

For what it's worth.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 25th, 2009 at 11:42am
F-e: note, in the account of the siege that follows (Eburones, Nervii), that the Gauls build siegeworks: they have Roman prisoners to teach them Roman style tactics !

But I would say that the Eburones might have learned this sort of fighting, or the basics, during cattle raiding and 'anti cattle raiding' with their Germanic neighbours ? You mention their cattle, and the following book shows Caesar inviting Germans to come in and raid the Eburones while they're busy fighting the Romans...

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 25th, 2009 at 5:29pm
Really impressive siegeworks even, if Caesar did not exaggerate the dimensions a bit - but why should he?

Cattle raids, that's what it may have been. And mutual abduction of women, probably. Caesar himself sees these Celto-Germanic ("Belgian") tribes as the least civilized in all of Gaul as they live farther away from the blessings of the Mediterranean world and closer to the Germans than the "proper" Celts in Gaul. At least they were not completely uncapable to learn a lesson or two - and teach them back to the Romans.

At least in some parts of the region formerly known as Eburonia there still lives a tradition for the celebration of the beginning of May. It (symbolically) includes  "buying" or "paying ransom" for a girl. Furthermore, the unmarried men put up a large decorated maypole in the center of their own village, protect it at night and/or go out to try to cut down the poles of other villages without being beaten up by the guards. This "training" which, needless to say, is accompanied by intensive consumption of beer, goes way back, everybody there is sure. Eburone heritage still alive? Guess I'm drifting too far off now... :o

Oh yes,the slingstones at Maiden Castle; I had forgotten about them. I'm not sure if there is any archaeological proof of the sling in the Gallia omnis divisa in partes tres, or in its Belgian part at least - in spite of written records like Caesar which give testimony of its use. But I'll try to have a look.

At least with some older archaeological sites - that means sites that were excavated before the 1960s or before Korfmann's famous sling article - there may be the problem that archaeologists then did not recognise slingstones as such but took them for round pebbles lying around (if they did not have perfect spherical shape or had been arranged in orderly heaps). You don't see what you don't know.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 28th, 2009 at 10:18am

Quote:
(I have a feeling that, for one thing, being made of organic matter, leather or fibre, they wouldn't last).

Hmm, well given that cloth from mummies is generally in good nick and that many leather artifacts have been found from roman times and before - you're not really thinking clearly on that point. It does -of course - depend on conditions.
But a number of slings have certainly been found in ireland.


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by David Morningstar on Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:20am
I have done a pretty good net trawl for Irish/Celtic slings and found no reference to surviving artefacts.



Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 28th, 2009 at 12:09pm
A quick reaction. Cloth from mummies (and generally organic matter) survives in Egypt (also Syria, Israel), because of the peculiar conditions there (dry, hot). Roman leather from Windisch / Vindonissa (army camp in Switzerland) survived because of peculiar conditions there (anaerobic and acid soil); the same applies for the wooden tablets from Vindolanda. Leather etc also survives in bogs. Wood survives under water But generally, organic matter doesn't fare terribly well-- the *survival* of cloth, papyrus, etc, is what's surprising.

C-A: can you give an example of these Irish slings you mention ? Best would be a precise reference to an excavation report; a reference to a book or synthetic article (where references to primary finds can be found) will do. But a statement such as "have certainly be found" needs substantiating. (Otherwise, I can say "the Loch Ness Monster has certainly been seen").

As I said earlier: the literature (e.g. Thom Richardson, article reproduced on this site) mentions ONE surviving sling, from Egypt, for the ancient world (with an intricately woven pouch and braided cords). Out of how many million slings made, braided, assembled, etc. ? But examples from Western Europe would be welcome: I very much doubt that any were found in graves, but could imagine leather slings surviving in bogs (like the leather lace around the neck of the Celtic prince found, strangled, in peat: Lindow Man), or in the Siberian toundra, or in a glacier. But we need precise examples !

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by David Morningstar on Mar 28th, 2009 at 1:04pm

Thearos wrote on Mar 28th, 2009 at 12:09pm:
As I said earlier: the literature (e.g. Thom Richardson, article reproduced on this site) mentions ONE surviving sling, from Egypt, for the ancient world (with an intricately woven pouch and braided cords).


Then I can increase your knowledge of ancient slings by 200%!

There is another one from Egypt in Manchester Museum which I have seen and photographed, we have a thread on it here: http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1140984986/46#46

Also there was one found in Nevada:


Quote:
http://www.pipeline.com/~jburdine/index.html

I found an article (American Antiquity vol.18, No. 2 October 1952 "A Prehistoric Sling from Lovelock Cave, Nevada; Heizer and Johnson) from University of Nv. In Reno that covered a sling  fragment found in Lovelock cave, Nevada on the partially mummified body of a 6 y/o male dating from about 272-792 B.C. It was made from Apocynum cannabinum, aka Indian hemp.


[EDIT]

Another sling! From King Tut, no less. http://slinging.org/wiki/index.php?title=Famous_Historical_Slings

I will do a bit on the Wiki about the other Lahun sling once that part of the museum reopens in April.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 28th, 2009 at 1:09pm
My understanding is becase they have not been positively identified as slings, slingbadger is more up on this than I am, based on his work to get the Southampton artifact reclassified.

There are a couple of leather artifacts that have been discovered in Dublin, that may have been slings or maybe not, All that were found was what could possibly be sling pouches.

Here is a private e-mail Badger sent to me when I was collecting information for a class on slinging for a local SCA function

"3 slings have been found from the Fishamble street site in Dublin Ireland. They are currently housed at the national Museum of Ireland in Dublin. They have a distinctive, elongated diamond shape. Dating shows that they are from c. 920-1060 AD. The Museum ID# are E180:7033 E190:6006 E190:7007

Very similar styles have been found in other sites throughout the British Isles In Glouchester, one with decorative holes was associated with a 4th cent. dig. 8 pouches of this design, with slits, have been found at 16-22 Coppergate, in Jorvik (York) These date from the 10-13th cent.

Quita Mold (yes, thats her name) Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo Scandinavian and medieval York York Archeological Trust.
My repro sling on this is 6 inches (15.24 cm) long by 2 wide (5.08 cm). I am not sure if those are the proper measurements, as the pictures had no scale. There are 4 slits on it,      "      

Going into my Class notes, here is a small portion of what I have

Now another sling design that could have been used is the Cortaillod (La Tene) sling although we only have one picture and a few paragraphs of text on it when it was first discovered. It dates from around (900 BC/BCE)

This is the oldest known european sling. It was excavated at the Cortaillod site near Lake Neuchatel in modern Switzerland around 1875. Unfortuanately this is all we know about this particular sling. The photo above is the only known evidence of it existing.

The actual text reads as follows:
“The cup or what is called the strap, of a sling made of platted flax cords, was found here,and is drawn on the lower part of plate CXXXVIII. This unique specimen will be described in the chapter devoted to the manufactures of flax and bast.”

Once you go to that particulr chapter the text continues;
“Fig. 2 represents one side of what is called the strap of a sling. It was made by plaiting flax cords togather. A portion of the string to which it was attached is shown on the right of the figure (1)”

     Footnote 1 yields;
     “"Qui fundis ex lino vel setis factis (has enim dicunt esse[?] meliores) contorto circa caput brachio dirigunt saxa-Vegitus De Re Militari Lib iii cap 14-[Tr.]”


Then there are the various Vindolandia artifacts where we have at least one sling pouch, possibly two, that were found near the roman fort in Northern Britian


Marc Adkins




David Morningstar wrote on Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:20am:
I have done a pretty good net trawl for Irish/Celtic slings and found no reference to surviving artefacts.


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 28th, 2009 at 1:24pm
Both of the Lahun slings are questionable due to dating issues, Yes they were found in Lahun Egypt, but there is the possibility that they are of later manufacture than what they are classiifed as. It was discussed in a thread on this forum. Both of these slings may actually be Roman era........

Both of them do bear some resemblance to the Cortaillod sling though and these were dated to 900 BC/BCE but ther has been no actual carbon dating of these artifacts :(

The Lovelock sling artifacts have been carbon dated and dates from 1222 BC/BCE

As I said earlier: the literature (e.g. Thom Richardson, article reproduced on this site) mentions ONE surviving sling, from Egypt, for the ancient world (with an intricately woven pouch and braided cords). Out of how many million slings made, braided, assembled, etc. ? But examples from Western Europe would be welcome: I very much doubt that any were found in graves, but could imagine leather slings surviving in bogs (like the leather lace around the neck of the Celtic prince found, strangled, in peat: Lindow Man), or in the Siberian toundra, or in a glacier. But we need precise examples ![/quote]

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 28th, 2009 at 3:26pm
Wow. I stand corrected.

So the Flinders Petrie Museum sling and the Manchester sling were found in the same place (they look v. similar). The Irish finds are Mediaeval leather.

What's the reference where the La Tene sling is from ? The lake has produced some wooden artifacts (including an ancient dugout, I think)-- and it might still be in the local museum (Neuchatel).




Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:28pm
Yeah to the best of my knowledge both the Petrie and the Manchester sling were discovered in the same place.

It was discussed in length here

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1140984986;start=all

Only thing I have found on the Cortaillod sling is a few 19th century references to it. I had to really dig in order to get a 19th century drawing of what it is supposed to look like.

There was a very brief discussion of it here
http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1222969771

It probably is gathering dust if it hasn't rotted away in the Neuchatel museaum. I would love to see a photograph of it.

I found the information in the following books

The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland and Other parts of Europe Volumes I & II by Dr. Ferdinand Keller 1878

Marc Adkins



Thearos wrote on Mar 28th, 2009 at 3:26pm:
Wow. I stand corrected.

So the Flinders Petrie Museum sling and the Manchester sling were found in the same place (they look v. similar). The Irish finds are Mediaeval leather.

What's the reference where the La Tene sling is from ? The lake has produced some wooden artifacts (including an ancient dugout, I think)-- and it might still be in the local museum (Neuchatel).


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 30th, 2009 at 7:42am
Cortaillod is the subject of a series of monographs (Cortaillod-Est). One is on L'Homme et la pierre, man and stone-- and published a few possible slingstones, which F. Keller also mentions in an 1856 list of sites. No reference to the sling in any of these recent monographs, however.

I haven't looked at the book by Keller you quote, but by its date, the find must date to the years of "harvesting" of such lakeside sites by fishermen, to sell antiquities. The recent excavations have revealed wood, "a piece of string" (i.e. twisted fibre skein), and even basketwork.

Date: labe bronze age, 1010-850 BC.

For what it's worth

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by curious_aardvark on Mar 30th, 2009 at 8:02am
thanks guys - I knew they'd been found just couldn't remember how  I knew :-)

There was definitely a thread about irish grave goods and slings - but buggered if I could track it down :-(
Ah - that's right, there was a quote from one of the celtic legends stating that a chieftain was buried with his slings.
Definitely a thread on the forum somewhere.

As far as leather surviving goes - there was an excavation of  aroman rubbish dump in london in the last few years (saw it on a telly program) and they found components of a leather water wheel as well as various other leather goods !
Leather is very tough and can survive in a variety of different conditions for a long time.
 

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 30th, 2009 at 11:41am
The sling was first published by Ferdinand Keller in his "Pfahlbauten-Funfter Bericht", with illustration pl. 15, no. 4. I haven't seen this (it's in Antiquaries Soc. of Zurich journal), but saw the summary by Paul Vouga in a Swiss journal-- he speaks of a sling made of hemp (and pretty ragged too, by his description).

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 30th, 2009 at 5:48pm
Conclusion: Fundibularius is certainly right to say the Eburones used the sling (perhaps even principally, but certainly in combination with other missile weapons) to harry and outfight and wipe out the Roman legion and a half; the evidence is circumstantial, literary, and archaeological (in the form of sling projectiles; among the handful of archaeologically attested slings, none seem to come from the relevant period, Iron Age France).

What kinds of sling were used by Celtic, or Germano-celtic populations of ca. 54 BC ?  Roman-era finds suggest leather straps and cup, as do mediaeval British and Irish finds; the Cortaillod sling (in the right area, but nearly a millenium earlier, and belonging to a different culture altogether) suggests the possibility woven vegetal fibre.

How's that for a summary ?

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:45pm
Like I posted my source was saying flax, so lets shake hands here and leave it at it was a vegtable fiber :)

Marc Adkins


Thearos wrote on Mar 30th, 2009 at 11:41am:
The sling was first published by Ferdinand Keller in his "Pfahlbauten-Funfter Bericht", with illustration pl. 15, no. 4. I haven't seen this (it's in Antiquaries Soc. of Zurich journal), but saw the summary by Paul Vouga in a Swiss journal-- he speaks of a sling made of hemp (and pretty ragged too, by his description).


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:54pm
I have been trying over the last few years to see if there was any sort of Cyber presence on a rumored early sling found in switzerland. Yes it's the Cortaillod sling.

I even ran a few JSTOR searches looking for it. But that was back when I worked for a institution that had access to it. course it would have helped to have known the name of the sling...............

for the record it has only been in the last six months or so that I have found anything at all on it and started the Cortaillod Sling thred in this subsection of the forum. So any and all knowledge on this early sling could be found a whole lot easier.

yeah the text did date to the early findings of the site and was filled with plates of drawings of all the artifacts they harvested from it.

Marc Adkins



Thearos wrote on Mar 30th, 2009 at 7:42am:
Cortaillod is the subject of a series of monographs (Cortaillod-Est). One is on L'Homme et la pierre, man and stone-- and published a few possible slingstones, which F. Keller also mentions in an 1856 list of sites. No reference to the sling in any of these recent monographs, however.

I haven't looked at the book by Keller you quote, but by its date, the find must date to the years of "harvesting" of such lakeside sites by fishermen, to sell antiquities. The recent excavations have revealed wood, "a piece of string" (i.e. twisted fibre skein), and even basketwork.

Date: labe bronze age, 1010-850 BC.

For what it's worth


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:56pm
C_A could that particular thread be the "Annuals of Tigernach"originally posted by Sling badger???????

Marc Adkin



Curious Aardvark wrote on Mar 30th, 2009 at 8:02am:
thanks guys - I knew they'd been found just couldn't remember how  I knew :-)

There was definitely a thread about irish grave goods and slings - but buggered if I could track it down :-(
Ah - that's right, there was a quote from one of the celtic legends stating that a chieftain was buried with his slings.
Definitely a thread on the forum somewhere.

As far as leather surviving goes - there was an excavation of  aroman rubbish dump in london in the last few years (saw it on a telly program) and they found components of a leather water wheel as well as various other leather goods !
Leather is very tough and can survive in a variety of different conditions for a long time.
 


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by winkleried on Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:58pm
In short diffrent varieties of slings were used by diffrent groups, not to much diffrent than today :)

Marc Adkins


Thearos wrote on Mar 30th, 2009 at 5:48pm:
Conclusion: Fundibularius is certainly right to say the Eburones used the sling (perhaps even principally, but certainly in combination with other missile weapons) to harry and outfight and wipe out the Roman legion and a half; the evidence is circumstantial, literary, and archaeological (in the form of sling projectiles; among the handful of archaeologically attested slings, none seem to come from the relevant period, Iron Age France).

What kinds of sling were used by Celtic, or Germano-celtic populations of ca. 54 BC ?  Roman-era finds suggest leather straps and cup, as do mediaeval British and Irish finds; the Cortaillod sling (in the right area, but nearly a millenium earlier, and belonging to a different culture altogether) suggests the possibility woven vegetal fibre.

How's that for a summary ?


Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by jax on Mar 30th, 2009 at 11:52pm
Hey  guys,

 Chiming in late.Check out this show.


http://www.history.com/content/warriors/episode-guide

 They don't have the Barbarians episode listed yet,but this link goes to the episode player.


http://www.history.com/video.do?name=warriors&bclrid=fullepisodes

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius Eifliensis on Mar 31st, 2009 at 7:07am

Quote:
Conclusion: Fundibularius is certainly right to say the Eburones used the sling (perhaps even principally, but certainly in combination with other missile weapons) to harry and outfight and wipe out the Roman legion and a half; the evidence is circumstantial, literary, and archaeological (in the form of sling projectiles; among the handful of archaeologically attested slings, none seem to come from the relevant period, Iron Age France).  

What kinds of sling were used by Celtic, or Germano-celtic populations of ca. 54 BC ?  Roman-era finds suggest leather straps and cup, as do mediaeval British and Irish finds; the Cortaillod sling (in the right area, but nearly a millenium earlier, and belonging to a different culture altogether) suggests the possibility woven vegetal fibre.  

How's that for a summary ?  
Back to top    


Thearos,
sorry, I haven't had the time to check the site lately. I agree with the summary.

Let me add wool as a possible material for Celtic slings. Or other animal (or maybe even human) hair. Just hypothetically, as it is always "in reach" for herdsmen. Or for warriors who like to cut off their enemies' heads.

If we want to be sure about the (continental) Celtic or German sling, however, we'll have to hope for a lucky find from the period in the alpine ice, or in bogs or under water or in a hermetically sealed grave or something similar. It might not be very probable, but who of us, in the 1980s, would have guessed that we would once look into Oetzi the Iceman's face and examine his well-preserved neolithic weapons and tools?

If I remember well, there is a link somewhere on this site to slings depicted on Trajan's column. If any, then for now, in time and space, these could be the "closest" types of "Barbarian" slings to those used in the Gallic Wars - although there are almost 200 years and 2000 km between the events in Gaul and in Dacia.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Mar 31st, 2009 at 7:38pm
How about a Balearic slinger from Hannibal's army, preserved like Otzi in a glacier, and revealed by global warming induced thaw ?

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius on Apr 1st, 2009 at 5:10am
That would be great. With a bag full of notes written by Hannibal himself: "My dear wife, soon our travelling circus will reach the realms of Italy and do a few shows in some of its famous cities as a sign of our goodwill and of the everlasting peace between our peoples..."

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Apr 1st, 2009 at 5:15pm
"In Cannae, three tent show. I hope we can do Rome ! If you can make it in Rome, you can make it anywhere. Tough crowd, though"

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius on Apr 2nd, 2009 at 12:12pm
"Surely they'll like the wild ruminants from the north. Buffalo Bal, that's how they're gonna call me."

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Apr 2nd, 2009 at 5:41pm
Ich verbeuge mich

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Fundibularius on Apr 4th, 2009 at 6:38am
Bitte, zuviel der Ehre.

You surely know this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnidejoch Chances for finding an original sling are not too bad, I guess. It just has to be recognised as such.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Apr 4th, 2009 at 6:11pm
Wow-- didn't know this one. A yew bow taken by a tourist !

You know Manfred Korfmann's thesis (Schleuder und Bogen)-- sling and bow were, at least in the near east, mutually exclusive. I don't know if this is right-- especially in the west...



Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by slingbadger on Apr 5th, 2009 at 5:25am
Thearos, do you know anywhere that has that Korfmann thesis in English? I have been drooling to read it for years, but I haven't been able to find a translation.

Title: Re: Slings against Caesar
Post by Thearos on Apr 5th, 2009 at 6:38am
I read it recently-- it's qyute sort. I think there's an abstract in English; and the gist of it is summarised in his Scientific American article of October 1973

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