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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Johnny Shumate's paintings
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Message started by Thearos on Sep 28th, 2009 at 3:28pm

Title: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 28th, 2009 at 3:28pm
Don't know who Shumate is-- saw some of his artwork and his question in various fora. Buthere are his slingers

http://community.imaginefx.com/fxpose/johnny_shumates_portfolio/picture70164.aspx

http://community.imaginefx.com/fxpose/johnny_shumates_portfolio/picture76672.aspx

Knows what a sling looks like (and Xen.'s Anabasis does prove that Rhodians braided their slings). Knows how a sling is gripped ! Two quibbles: the pouches are too big (would you go into battle lugging a large amt of lead ?)-- a cup in the Nishikawa collection (I'll post photo) shows a slinger with a small basket. And the sling bullets are really too big-- they should be the size of your thumb

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by bigkahuna on Sep 29th, 2009 at 1:24am
John happens to be one of the members of this forum. He has posted a number of his pictures here and yes, he does know his slingers.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Sep 29th, 2009 at 1:53am

He might also be carrying some lead casting tools and a multi-bullet mold on campaign. It would make sense to carry this in the same bag to avoid getting everything else (bedroll, eating utensils) covered in lead. You would leave these behind with the rest of the baggage just before battle. Add some stones or clay bullets for hunting birds or rabbits along the way and you will bulk up the bag easily enough.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 29th, 2009 at 4:52am
I see what you mean. Pretty big thing, though bullet moulds: imagine a slab of limestone or a clay, the size of a book. Also, inscriptions on lead bullets seem to hint that they were cast by armies rather than individuals.-- i.e. I'd imagine (but it's just a guess) that the mould, lead pouring ladle, etc, travel with the baggage.  

Myself, I'd imagine a slinger going into battle with a neat small bag with sixty bullets-- not too voluminous; I suspect that for ease of movement, he somtimes holds in in his left hand (rather th an leave it around his body)-- this is shown in the cup now kept in the Kurashiki Ninagawa Museum (got the name wrong earlier).

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Sep 29th, 2009 at 7:46am
I would kill to see that cup!

Okay, maybe not actually kill,  but you get the idea...

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 29th, 2009 at 11:06am
Will post a photo next time I get the occasion. In the meantime, remember that it's not one, but two slabs per mould, since each multi-bullet mould is made of two adjusted halves.


Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Sep 29th, 2009 at 5:24pm
the bags are on the wrong side of the slingers bodies in those pics.
It's actually extremely awkward to reload at speed from the side opposite your sling hand. Whereas holding 2-3 sling stones in your hand while slinging for fast reloading is very easy and feels totally natural.  

As for slingers going into battle - well that would depend entirely on their role. If they were in for a long bambardment then you'd have a wheel barrow or three full of ammo pretty near.

Given that a skilled slinger can easily get off an aimed shot every 5-6 seconds (well i managed it on chesil beach, so those guys must have been able to)
Also given that slingers would have been slinging right up to the point where one side or the other was overrun - even after engagement you'd have continued to target officers and the rear ranks of the enemy.
60 shots = approx 10 minutes of ammo.  Short battle.

A hunter might carry such a small amount of ammo on a days hunt - but a slinger on a battlefield ? It'd have to be a helluva lot more than that.  
Its possible/probable that they had runners to replenish ammo bags.

Any way you cut it - for a battle you'd need a lot more ammo than most people would hang round their necks.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 29th, 2009 at 6:09pm
Yes, but I don't think you go into battle and just fire away at great speed. Likewise, archers didn't go into battle with huge bulging quivers, but a "tactical load". The problem of reloading from "battlefield ammo dumps" is actually unclear to me (at Carrhae, the Parthians bring in camel loads of arrows to keep the archers going).

You're right, in a siege, you want to be close to a basket full of lead. In the field ? If it's two skirmishing lines, it's going to be a pretty leisurely affair, with aimed shots, strung out during an hour or so, perhaps; if against a formed battle line, even more so (I'd imagine). I'd argue (to repeat myself) that tactical situations where you're slinging for dear life are pretty rare (the Balearic guys in hannibal's army do it to some Roman cav. at a river crossing, i think).

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by jax on Sep 30th, 2009 at 12:54am
CA,

Would you position the bag over your left shoulder,and have it swing under your throwing hand?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Sep 30th, 2009 at 2:25am

I have the bag on my right, with the strap across my left shoulder. The bag is below my waist and behind the hip. Its not in the way of a figure-8 because I stand sideways on for that.

The reload is fast and natural. Grab the pouch with the left hand and the ammo with the right. Bring ammo to pouch, wrap pouch around ammo with left hand and hold it there, take release cord near pouch with right hand and slide through to release knot. I can do a shot every six seconds until the bag is empty.

Big piles of ammo on the ground will kill the one defensive option a slinger has - a speedy getaway.

Although a slingers kit can be heavy you should compare it to the weight of a big hoplon shield and a seven foot spear, plus helmet, breastplate, greaves etc. The hoplites would throw a fit if the slingers had their stuff carried for them while they minced along in sandals and tunic, picking flowers for each other. When you consider the huge volumes of food and water that need to be consumed by an army on the march, you can bet all available draught animals were hauling bread, not lead.






Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Sep 30th, 2009 at 6:31am

Quote:
If it's two skirmishing lines, it's going to be a pretty leisurely affair, with aimed shots, strung out during an hour or so, perhaps; if against a formed battle line,


You're thinking fantasy war, the clean academic stuff that never actually happened and not practical life and death, crap your pants blood and guts.
As a slinger you would not - primarily - be a sniper - which is the role you are describing thearos. Your main job would be to get as much lead/stone into the air in as fast a time as possible.
Which was also an archers job (but with arrows - obviously lol).

Even if you don't injure anyone directly the noise of a slingstone passing near is sufficient to distract most and the chance that one will hit you will also effect you.
If you've got slingers the only thing that makes practical sense is to sling as hard and as fast and for as long as it's possible to do.

You saying that at agincourt each archer only had one quiver a piece ?

And yep jax the bag would be on my right. Why would it swing - you think these people were too stupid to tie the bottom round their waists, or to their thighs ? Please, for every trick I can think of to help me - they'd have had a dozen.
Plus an efficient battlefield slnging rythm tends to be smooth and minimises things like bags swinging around.
Most of my slinging is done with dog leads loped loosely round my shoulders - never yet caused me any problems.

I have stood 250 yards downwind of just one accomplished slinger. The noise of just one sling missile hitting near you is very scary and surprisingly loud - any commander worth his salt would want as much noise, distraction and injury to his enemies as possible.


Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:53am
The passage I've quoted in another thread (re Manlius Vulso's campaign against the Galatians) shows lead and stones being organized centrally. I suppose they're carted by the army, but perhaps they were carried by slingers, once distributed into individual loads. Generally, ancient armies on the march have stuff carted along for them.

(While we're at it: the ancient Greek shield during the Classical period is called "aspis", hoplon means weapon or instrument; it only later means "shield". "Hoplite" means "kitted out man". Ta hopla means heavy infantry).

C-A: the model I'm thinking about is ammo consumption in WWII, or even black powder warfare: people just don't go "full automatic" all the time (they would have no ammo left). Mad minutes sometimes, yes; usually, lots of lulls and pauses, and lots of people just not shooting. Most people in battle are pretty stressed out, as S. L. A. Marshall argues; or, if that's too passé, the tactical advice of Lionel Wigram is worth mulling over:

http://mr-home.staff.shef.ac.uk/hobbies/Wignam.txt


I also speculated on how slingers fought in an earlier thread, "how to employ slingers"-- if you're keeping up a steady stream of harassing fire, or if you're duelling skirmishing lines, you're taking your time, not slinging away for dear life (which might happen in certain situations, for instance "mad minutes' for driving back a sally during a siege, or keeping defenders' heads down during an assault--both situations where ammo supply is not a problem).

Ancient images of slingers (rare are they are) don't show people going into the fight with huge backpacks and sacks of stones and bullets, but the neat "tactical" packs I'm imagining for the "sling fight" (and which I think Shumate should have given his slingers). Will post a pic. later, but  there are, of course, the slingers on Trajan's column.  



Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 30th, 2009 at 8:01am
The point must be ammo discipline. In Aitolia in 427, the Athenian archers run out of ammo, and the Athenian force gets routed by javelin-throwing Aitolians. I note that the Athenian commander was killed-- perhaps his men lose control and shoot all their ammo.

If being shot at with one stone is very scary, then a slow steady stream of angry buzzing bullets and projectiles is enough to unnerve and provoke reaction (whether a withdrawal or a charge)-- without incurring huge ammo expenditure. The British army (but in fact most WWI long rifle armed troops too) had a tradition of long ranged aimed rifle fire-- fairly rapid, but not spraying ammo at high speed. That, too, is how I imagine slingers fighting: aimed fire, deliberate shots, pauses.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Sep 30th, 2009 at 8:08am

Quote:
Ancient images of slingers (rare are they are) don't show people going into the fight with huge backpacks and sacks of stones and bullets, but the neat "tactical" packs I'm imagining for the "sling fight" (and which I think Shumate should have given his slingers). Will post a pic. later, but  there are, of course, the slingers on Trajan's column.  


Right - pictures of 'wheelbarrow men' (for want of a better term for ammo haulers ;-) are not romantic.
Bear in mind that ancient illustrations are not the equivalent of contemporary war photographers. They were - for the most part - purely decorative. Realism didn;t get much of a look in.

And a wwII analogy for ancient warfare is just wrong lol
Mostly wars weren't fought between entrenched armies.
Plus the armies involved were considerably smaller so logistics would have been very different.

And as far as warfare goes logistics determines 90% of what you can and can't do.

But the side who could put themost sling ammo in the air for the longest period of time - would ahve stood a better chance of coming out on top.

I like the agincourt analogy. 3000 bowmen versus 20,000 men at arms.
Logistics determined the outcome. We didn't run out of arrows before they ran out of bodies. Had it been the other way round - we'd have lost.

In a battle where muscle power rules (ie: nothing remotel;y resembling contemporary warfare) the side who has missile superiority will always hold the upper hand. And for that you need slingers slinging hard and fast for long periods of time.

Each individual slinger will only carry the ammo he is comfortable with. But there would undoubtably have been provision made to 'reload' the ammo bags.
I'm not a professional slinger - but  I could easily sling non-stop for several hours.  
If that's what your slingers can do - why would you as a commander - then limit yourself to only using them sporadically.
Simple you wouldn't.
Every enemy you put down with a long range attack is one less to close and risk harming your own troops.  

have a butchers at sun tzus The Art Of War. It's pretty basic tactics.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 30th, 2009 at 10:06am
Yes, ancient images of warfare are idealized and ideologized. But they do bear some resemblance to reality; N. Sekunda's books make this point-- for instance, in the 510s BC or the 460s BC, different equipment suddenly appears. Wheelbarrow men on the battlefield perfectly possible; I argue that the guys in the shooting line have tactical packs, not backpacks with lead. Yes ? That's more or less what you're saying, and that's what I'm arguing: not  big lumps of ammo into combat. Anyway, Xen. Anab. 5.2.12-14 for the "leather bags" of the slingers, fill of stones.

Modern warfare analogy: not WWII (where the range of firefights seems to drop to 300 m), but the "golden age of the rifle", say Boer War to WWI, the age of aimed rifle fire. That's the analogy I'm thinking about-- and you could return to your arguments "Why don't they blast away all the time" ? Because the tactical culture demands aimed fire as more effective.

To repeat myself: I'm sure that e.g. during a siege, there are crisis points when people sling away in mad minutes. In the field ? Say Thuc. 6.69.2, in 415, two lines of lights meet: archers, slingers, javelin-men. They fight an inconclusive engagement, then the main show starts (heavy infantry clobber fest)-- this, says Thuc., is how battles usually take place. Do they just line up and fire oodles of ammo at each other, then done ? Or is it a more deliberate, directed sort of fight, with small bodies of men sniping, aimed shots, sometimes massed volleys, moving back and forth, a loose firing line trying to provoke the other side into loosing off all their ammo, sallies and threats, trying to bully the line out of the way, until stalemate is reached and each line has drawn off the other's sting ?


We don't know, of course-- no very detailed after action reports of what happened during ancient battle.


Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Sep 30th, 2009 at 11:30am
My guess is that a very important purpose of your slingers is to prevent the enemies slingers from getting into range of your main infantry and cavalry before they are formed up and you are ready to advance.

What you see is two loosely organised groups fighting a ranged battle against each other, testing each other and seeing if they can break through and get into range of the enemies main force. This would go on until the main show is ready to start.

Once one or both of the armies advances the skirmish intensifies as the area between shrinks. Once the main forces come into range they can be hit by slingers and archers, but at the same time these slingers and archers need to hold their ground against the enemies slingers and archers. If one sides skirmishers can sweep the other sides skirmishers off the battlefield then they have won a huge advantage for their side: an uncontested javelin volley into the main enemy ranks. Javelins are the big prize at the end of the skirmish battle. That only happens at the end because they are very short ranged compared to sling bullets and arrows.

Once the javelins are thrown it is time for the light troops to get the heck out of the way of the heavy infantry and hang back, keeping the enemy skirmishers away from your flanks and trying not to get flattened by cavalry. If the enemy line breaks anywhere your heavies need to keep their own line organised so light troops should rain death on the fleeing enemy and stop them from regrouping. Your cavalry will hopefully finish the job if they havent gone galloping off in their own private war with the enemy cavalry, which often happens.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Sep 30th, 2009 at 11:46am

Quote:
Do they just line up and fire oodles of ammo at each other, then done ? Or is it a more deliberate, directed sort of fight, with small bodies of men sniping, aimed shots, sometimes massed volleys, moving back and forth, a loose firing line trying to provoke the other side into loosing off all their ammo, sallies and threats, trying to bully the line out of the way, until stalemate is reached and each line has drawn off the other's sting ?  


I'll buy that, to a certain extent :-)
But you just can't draw an analogy between slings and pretty much any other projectile weapon.

The way I usually put it is: most projectile weapons are 'idiot' weapons. So called because any idiot can use one with reasonable success after a very short practice spell.
Classic examples of 'idiot' weapons would be: guns, crossbows, bow and arrow (to a certain extent). Any weapon that can be sighted and easily aimed.

Conversely slings are NOT idiot weapons. It takes years of practice to develop sling accuracy to the point where you can compare it to even a novice bowman or rifleman.

So while any army would certainly possess a small number of slingers as snipers. The majority would be broad section slingers. Capable of getting a missile a certain distance and within a pretty broad target area.
In a way this cuts down their effectiveness as tactical fighters - but given their ability to put a lot of mass into the air for long periods of time I think they would be used far more for a debilitating and suppressing bombardment rather than surgical strikes.

The average roman legionnaire would have been a bombardment slinger with a few small units - like the balearic slingers of old - who would have been your specialist 'shooters'.


Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Sep 30th, 2009 at 12:02pm
It's Livy (using Polybios) who describes how the Achaians practised slinging on beaches-- shooting through *rings*. (He also says they could hit whichever *part of the face they aimed for, which I frankly find incredible). But imagine being able to sling through a ring, without touching the sides, at, say, 60 paces-- I'd imagine you'd still be able to get close to a human sized target at a good range. So yes, certain people are specialists.

Shumate: make the pouches a bit smaller, will you ?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Sep 30th, 2009 at 1:05pm

With respect to slinger skill, the skills are there if you have the coin to buy them. Rhodes was not small. The Acarnanians and Achaeans could put big numbers into the field. The Balearic islands provided two thousand slingers to Hannibal. In Xenophon's Anabasis, he can find 200 Rhodian slingers in his phalanxes and these men are good enough to hold off the Persian archers.

In other cases there will have been 'barn door' slingers - Persian armies used vast levies of subjugated populations as slingers, but these were for short ranged heavy bombardment (Anabasis again). Pompey deployed large numbers of archers and slingers but they were crushed by Julius Caesars forces after Pompeys cavalry routed.

At this point its worth pimping this link again:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=z1kbyWNJIt0C&lpg=PA56&ots=xLtZt2kgra&dq=pompey%20slingers&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q=stone%20throwers%20and%20slingers%20in%20ancient%20greek%20warfare&f=false

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by TN.Frank on Sep 30th, 2009 at 1:21pm
So, just like in the American Revolution you had groups of people armed with muskets for volley fire and groups armed with rifles for accurate fire.  Less skilled slingers would be used for volley fire where they'd just saturate the air with projectiles and hope that some would hit their mark while certain groups who were highly skilled would be able to "snipe" certain targets at a greater distance.  ;)

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 1st, 2009 at 4:57am
I wouldn't mind slinging like an Iranian hillsman levy in the Achaimenid army-- at a guess, I'd be able to send a stone 150m or so with tactical accuracy, and much better than that at say 30 or even 60 m.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Oct 1st, 2009 at 6:19am
Accurate slinging isn't difficult ...
just takes a decade or so of daily practice :-)

Now staff slings on the other hand - definitely 'idiot' weapons.

Mate I meet up with on dog walks had a go with the hoopoo last night.
every throw straight out to about 100 yards.
Hell his dog even brought a couple of tghe stones back (something bilbo never does lol)

The more I see people use a staff sling for the first time the more I seriously wonder why they don't figure more in the historical texts.
It's a bit odd.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Aussie on Oct 1st, 2009 at 7:24am
Guys,

Interesting and lively discussion; enjoyable and informative reading. If you have more info re the staff sling as a field weapon please say. I wonder how good you can get with it? It sure looks like you get good return on training time investment.

In the siege of Sancerre the slings were known as "Sancerre Arquebusses", indicating a comparison with firearms even in the minds of people at the time. Could these have been staff slings?

Keep it coming.

Aussie

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by xxkid123 on Oct 1st, 2009 at 4:00pm
perhaps with a staff sling it would be easier to throw combustibles. plus back then staff slings where a probably a cheap alternative to sending huge arrows out of crossbows, rather they just had a person willing throw chunks of rock

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 6:38am
well, probably. But I;m saying that staff slings have almost no learning curve.

I just don't see why they were not more widely used.
A company of staff slingers could have been trained up inside a couple of days.
Get the right length sling and staff and you're talking 150-200 yards range, always goes forwards, mostly goes dead straight.

It just strikes me as odd that hand slings - requiring much longer training periods and higher skill levels seem to have been the norm.

Our ancestors weren't idiots, so why weren't staff slings more common ?
Or were they so common that people just never bother mentioning them.
it's odd.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 7:42am

Decent plate armour makes long range sling bombardment ineffective. You would get a lot of noise and a lot of dents and bruises, but nothing worse than you would see in a rough game of rugby.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Lycurgus on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 8:08am

David Morningstar wrote on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 7:42am:
Decent plate armour makes long range sling bombardment ineffective. You would get a lot of noise and a lot of dents and bruises, but nothing worse than you would see in a rough game of rugby.


It does disrupt formations though.
I was speaking to a chap who did an experiment by throwing bean bags at a group of people (albeit not trained warriors) armed with helmets and shields.
What he found was that the people close to where the bags were hitting bunched close together for protection, too close together to let them effectively wield a weapon, and the others shied away from where the projectiles were landing thereby leaving gaps in the shield wall. So bombarding a close formed unit prior to a clash of sheild walls could be an effective tactic.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 8:58am

My view of skirmishing troops on the classical battlefield is not unlike that of air power circa 1940. Archers and slingers are the equivalent of fighter aircraft, trying to gain control of the middle of the battlefield so that their javelin throwers (equivalent to bombers) can dish out the serious damage to the opposing side. If you get the chance you can go 'strafing' and hurt the enemies main force directly but you need to have won 'air superiority' first before you can do that.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 11:29am
As promised. E. Simon, The Kurashiki Ninagawa Museum (1982), no. 34. Cup wth painting by Makron. Ca. 490 BC. Outside> banqueting scene. Inside: slinger.

Some comment: the slinger has nice long sling. He wears a chiton, on top some sort of jack or padded vest (perhaps the "spolas"), and a cloak. On his left arm, a pouch with big round stones. He fights against archers. He has two javelins, with throwing thongs (the same arrangement, sling + 2 javelins, appears on C4th coins of the Ainianes-- easy to find, I think, or used to be in the numismatic www sites, but coinarchives.com has gone paying).

The inscription: HO PAIS KALOS (standard homo-erotic inscription), and LA, perhaps invocation to the stone, perhaps abbreviation of LA(BE), take that.
MakronCup.jpg (21 KB | )

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 11:33am
Bigger
Makron2.jpg (70 KB | )

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by TN.Frank on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 11:39am
You can't fold up a staff sling and stick it in your pocket and it'd be hard to carry more then a couple of em'. With a "standard" sling you can carry quite a few of em' and they're compact. That's probably why there were more of em' then the staff slings.  Just a thought. ::)

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by xxkid123 on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 3:47pm
well it's easier to cut down a stick and notch it and later tie on some twisted rope then to make a sling for hand use

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 5:02pm
Pray note on p. 2 two photographs of a cup dating ca. 490 BC, and showing a slinger with a small "man purse". Among the doubtless fascinating discussion of the staff sling, this picture risks being lost-- it makes my point that Shumate's big deep pouch is probably not right.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 6:51pm
That is the best depiction of a classical slinger I have yet seen. Again, the ammo is hung on the left arm as in Trajans column. Absolutely not the way I would have expected it, but we have to go with what we see. Thearos, thanks.

[EDIT] I am not seeing the throwing thongs on the javelins...?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 6:56pm
Good, innit ? Glad you like it. The thongs are there, but in red paint, difficult to see on the crap pics I posted. Any comments on slinging style ?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 4:41am
I reckon he's been posed to fit within the confines of the plate but apart from that its a very familiar Greek pose.

From my own experiences throwing biconical sling bullets in front of the high speed camera, I would say that he will not be throwing with the Greek style as we usually do it. That style, with its horizontal spin and overarm throw, will not give reliable point-first pouch orientations for release:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDTO1VYoMXw

A tiny tweak, which fits with the pictures we have of the cords alongside the head, is to angle the plane of rotation slightly so that the pouch is released at about shoulder height after a sidearm throw. This will always deliver a projectile point first with rifled spin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdOIn5j2jR4

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 5:21am
V. interesting on how to throw lead bullets-- a whole art. But the cup here must show a man throwing round stones-- that's what he seems to have in his bag, and the date, 490, is nearly a century before the earliest reference to lead bullets (Xenophon, of course). It's true there are a few lead bullets found in C5th arch. contexts (I know of 2), but they might be anomalies (i.e, mistakes by excavators or in their records).

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 6:04am
Ah yes, he is slinging round stones. Any idea what the oldest clay biconical bullet is? Hamoukar bullets are teardrop shaped, and waaaaay older.

I have found this: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=NPBj5TIZA44C&lpg=PA80&ots=ZNuYjU5-UN&dq=clay%20sling%20bullet&pg=PA80#v=onepage&q=clay%20sling%20bullet&f=false

And also this, which has some experimental archaeology on p 166 that I have never heard of before:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=P_Ixuott4doC&lpg=PA165&ots=bvDvGeF2MC&dq=clay%20sling%20bullet&pg=PA166#v=onepage&q=clay%20sling%20bullet&f=false

[EDIT]

Wow, that second link is placing clay biconical bullets at 4000 BC! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubaid_period

So the biconical shape seems to be well established in the middle east long before the Greeks get going. Casting them out of lead would be a no-brainer, whenever it becomes cheap enough. For the Egyptians, this seems to have been around 500 BC http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/weapons/missiles.htm

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 7:12am
clay stuff, early enough.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 9:59am
looks like artistic license.
Just totally impractical to hold your stones like that - and like david says the stance had been modified to fit the cup/coin/plate.

His starting balance is all wrong.
I suspect the artist had never actually seen a slinger in battle and just had a model (non-slinger) strike an interesting pose.
As common back then as it is today. Ever wonder why so many classical paintings with lots of figures show them all with very similiar features ?
One model used for them all.

Now I know historians like to put a lot of weight in decorative illustrations - but surely somewhere along the line you need to apply a little common sense, practical knowlege and physical reenactment ?

Just try this.
Grab a sling, and attempt to strike the pose in the picture (yes I just did).
It's doable but it puts your weight in a finishing position not a starting position, and as for the arm positions. About the only sensible thing you can do from such a pose is a simple straight arm overarm trebuchet style throw.
A bit like one slingbadger is fond of (accuracy is a bit hit and miss - fortunately  he managed to miss us lol) but without any of the power as the starting position is just so awful.

So given that the pose is utter nonsense - why should any weight be placed in how the sling pouch is being precariously balanced ?
Or for that matter it's size or contents ?

This is a serious question as a tremendous amount of 'knowlege' seems to be derived form pictures like this one.
Is the lack of skills on the part of historians responsible for really screwing up a large number of historical 'facts' ?

It's like reading a Dan brown book. If you don't know anything about the technical aspects of the book - it's a cracking good read.
If - on the other hand you know something about them - the books are complete and utter nonsense. Take the book angels and demons, as just one example. If you know even a tiny amount about wireless networking you know for a fact that the antimatter could have been pinpointed to within a few yards in about 20 minutes - max.

So is a lack of weapons knowlege/experience seriously skewing the way that historians report ancient weapons usage based on decorative and unpractical illustrations ?
Discuss :-)
(try the pose first - then vote)

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 10:51am

What is odd about the way he's holding the sling (apart from his plate-constrained stance)? Its ready for a perfectly normal Greek throw.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:00am
Two remarks-- no, make that three.

Yep, it's a picture. But it has to look right. I suspect ancient Greeks-- the man who made this, the men who drank out of the cup-- had some idea of what a sling and a slinger looked like.

Re-enactment is not useful. M. Mauss, the anthropologist, observed that French soldiers and English soldiers in WWI couldn't work with each other's tools-- it's a question of what you've been taught to be. Very rare the people who've learned how to sling from childhood now-- no argument from "my body can't do it, so it can't be done"

When I use a long sling and I'm preparing for the shot (I suppose I sling Greek style--  it goes above my head round three times, then release), I adopt something of this position. Next will be lifting left hand to eye hight, then rotations.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:05am
Yep, I can do it that way. FWIW.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:25am

Thearos wrote on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:00am:
I suppose I sling Greek style--  it goes above my head round three times, then release


What we are calling Greek style (with no historical reference, we just made it up) is done with no windup rotations. Multiple rotations above the head would be a Helicopter.

Greek: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc_rAly4oLY

Helicopter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GXkmT7eJFo

Your three rotations are probably spot on:

http://virgil.classicauthors.net/Aeneid/Aeneid30.html

[Mezentius] when he spied from far, the Tuscan king
Laid by the lance, and took him to the sling,
Thrice whirl`d the thong around his head, and threw:
The heated lead half melted as it flew;
It pierc`d his hollow temples and his brain;
The youth came tumbling down, and spurn`d the plain.

Or:

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilAeneidIX.htm

Mezentius, dropping his spears, whirled a whistling sling
on its tight thong, three times round his head, and split
his adversary’s forehead open in the middle, with
the now-molten lead, stretching him full length in the deep sand.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:46am
I'm ashamed to admit that's where I got the idea of the three rotations.

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1240586300/6#6

The guy seems to be seating the stone in photo 1 (top of the page)-- perhaps that's what the man in the Makron cup is meant to be doing ?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Aussie on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 10:24pm
Really the poll question is redundant as a historian is always on a quest for truth so any lack of background knowledge, be it weapons or anything else, will hamper that quest.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 4th, 2009 at 4:29am
Depends what the historian's a historian of-- if it's a historian works e.g. on political discourse, or land tenure patterns, or the construction of gender, she doesn't necessarily need to know about military hardware.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by curious_aardvark on Oct 4th, 2009 at 6:34am
true - but making assumptions about weapons use based purely on decorative illustrations just has to be a bit dodgy.

what's wrong with the illustration. Okay the arm position is way off, fine we'll put that down to artistic licence. #
But he also has the wrong leg bent his weight is forward, it should be on his back leg.
Okay we'll put that down to artistic licence too.

His sling pouch is hanging loose on an arm that's about to drop. Just completely impractical. Artistic licence ?

So what we've got - knowlege wise is that the person drawing the picture had heard of slinging, but did not know what a 'working' slinger actually looks like.    

Slinging is a good example of historians drawing incorrect conclusions - as it's near enough a dead art.

And lets be honest here basing your greek style throw on a passage that indicates lead bullets melting because they were slung so hard - possibly - just possibly - not the most truthful or accurate description I've read :-)

Possibly the three rotations is correct - but given the obvious fiction of the rest of the passage, how can you give creedence to one part of an account when the rest is obvious nonsense ?

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by David Morningstar on Oct 4th, 2009 at 7:30am

Curious Aardvark wrote on Oct 4th, 2009 at 6:34am:
true - but making assumptions about weapons use based purely on decorative illustrations just has to be a bit dodgy.

what's wrong with the illustration. Okay the arm position is way off, fine we'll put that down to artistic licence. #
But he also has the wrong leg bent his weight is forward, it should be on his back leg.
Okay we'll put that down to artistic licence too.

His sling pouch is hanging loose on an arm that's about to drop. Just completely impractical. Artistic licence ?

So what we've got - knowlege wise is that the person drawing the picture had heard of slinging, but did not know what a 'working' slinger actually looks like.    

Slinging is a good example of historians drawing incorrect conclusions - as it's near enough a dead art.

And lets be honest here basing your greek style throw on a passage that indicates lead bullets melting because they were slung so hard - possibly - just possibly - not the most truthful or accurate description I've read :-)

Possibly the three rotations is correct - but given the obvious fiction of the rest of the passage, how can you give creedence to one part of an account when the rest is obvious nonsense ?


I'm not taking anything from the guys stance because he is clearly fitted into the circular outline of the vessel. Look at the angles of the soles of his feet, for example. This doesnt invalidate the whole picture, we just need to be careful about what we take from it, test it by experiment, compare it to other pictures and text descriptions that we have. Then, maybe, we can speak with some confidence about how it was done.

Anyway, to say that a collection of very different city states that lasted for 500 years all used the same slinging style is a nonsense. You insist you sling the exactly same way as nwmanitou and you blatantly dont :-p

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 4th, 2009 at 1:17pm
Vegetius also says "most people spin three times, but far better is to spin only once", vel sim. So three spins sounds right to me.

Lead melting in the air was, for the ancients, a scientific, observable fact. It's been speculated that it's because sling bullets when picked up were hot-- from impact ? But the three turns also seem to have been common knowledge.

I go 1, 2, 3, throw. Actually, that makes it 4 turns. Hmm.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 4th, 2009 at 1:25pm
I must say, the arms seem very good to me. The right hand, with the fingers pointing up and thumb forward, seems particularly accurate. The left hand is fine, especially if he's fitting and tensing as he prepares for the shot (next, he can swing upwards, or lift the tensed cords in aiming position, left hand in front, right arm behind his head.

Legs are also good. especially weight on right, back leg, exactly like the Balearic slinger preparing for his shot (which I hastily posted in another thread, apologies).

I agree the bag's odd.

Title: Re: Johnny Shumate's paintings
Post by Thearos on Oct 4th, 2009 at 1:34pm
Just to make sure all's clear: the man is preparing to shoot towards our right, yes ? His weight is on his right, back leg, Arrows are coming at him from the right. He's not going to do a "trebuchet" (nice expression) towards our left, but is about to aim towards our right, his front, and perform a helicopter style release.

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