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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Assyrian slingers, British Museum
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Message started by David Morningstar on Nov 21st, 2010 at 7:17pm

Title: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by David Morningstar on Nov 21st, 2010 at 7:17pm

I saw these guys yesterday...  8-)







The caption underneath the panels reads "Assyrian slingers in action, about 700-692 BC From Nineveh, South-West Palace"





The ammo is big, three fingerwidths across and a bit squarish. It looks to have been made from square blocks of stone with their corners knocked off and generally rounded. Serious ammo by anyones standards.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Aussie on Nov 21st, 2010 at 9:56pm
Fascinating! I wonder how accurate the portrayal is, ie. could they really stand so close to each other and did they really grip the slings so short with several inches of release cord out past the fist. I assume the coordination, with all of them in exactly the same position, is artistic licence. This engraving shows more detail, pictures often seem to show the sling as if it was only a single cord; such a sling would be impossible to release.

Cute how they included the replica sling next to the slingstones in the last photo. But with commercially made twisted rope for the cords?

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by David Morningstar on Nov 22nd, 2010 at 5:11am
The cord trailing out below the hand has a definite taper to it. I reckon it has to be a cracker. A couple of hundred slings cracking simultaneously would be a very impressive battlefield noise!

At Edinburgh Paleo Skills Weekend I was in a speed shootout with two archers. I was in the middle with an archer two long paces away on each side of me. Using the Vertical Greek style it was plenty of room.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by nemo on Nov 22nd, 2010 at 6:25pm
I agree, a group of slinger all cracking their slings at once would give a very impressive noice, especially if they fired at a regular pace instead of individually.

I think how close the slingers look is just the art of the time. most artists back then werent the best at showing 3d, and as you said, the smaller details.
Having said that though, I do reckon, depending on your style, slingers could stand reasonably close together. Doing a figure 8 lob throw, I would need much more than a metre either side and perhaps 2m front and back of me. Im sure they would have had more room, but for just basic lobbing slinging (which is what most of warfare probably was), you dont need that much room I dont think.

Nemo

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Thearos on Nov 23rd, 2010 at 3:33pm
What's the ancient sling next to the ammo ? As Aussie said, modern cordage, OK. But is this an ancient woven pouch ?

Part of the ongoing "how many slings survive from antiquity" theme

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by David Morningstar on Nov 23rd, 2010 at 4:04pm
The whole sling is modern.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Thearos on Nov 23rd, 2010 at 5:50pm
Oh, too bad. How's it made ?

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by WirocuDurotrigon on Dec 8th, 2010 at 11:29am

David Morningstar wrote on Nov 22nd, 2010 at 5:11am:
The cord trailing out below the hand has a definite taper to it. I reckon it has to be a cracker. A couple of hundred slings cracking simultaneously would be a very impressive battlefield noise!


Sorry, what? :P

That is what strikes me - the actually very small sling and that excess trailing cord. Better accuracy (maybe) but limited range and power - heck, just throw it! ;D

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Masiakasaurus on Dec 8th, 2010 at 12:37pm

WirocuDurotrigon wrote on Dec 8th, 2010 at 11:29am:

David Morningstar wrote on Nov 22nd, 2010 at 5:11am:
The cord trailing out below the hand has a definite taper to it. I reckon it has to be a cracker. A couple of hundred slings cracking simultaneously would be a very impressive battlefield noise!


Sorry, what? :P

The fall and cracker are the tapered part at the end of a whip and the widened tip respectively, which help the whip make its cracking sound. In slinging we call a tapered release cord a cracker because it has the same effect.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by curious_aardvark on Dec 13th, 2010 at 11:49am
Given the size and weight of the ammo. I'm guessing what they have there is staff sling ammo.
Plus the length of the slings depicted is most likely more for artistic licence that realism.

For repetitive barrage slinging with large rocks you'd either use a fairly long sling (so the sling does the work) or use  astaff sling.

The sling in the display case looks like it's been made to the same size as those on the tablet.
So - personally - i'd say not very realistic.

I do like the idea of pistol shot slings though.

That noise followed by the angry bee swarm noise of a sling stone apporaching would put the wind up even the bravest soldier.
And with moulded sling bullets you don't see them coming just hear them (And I do know that from first hand experience :-)

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Thearos on Dec 13th, 2010 at 7:09pm
I don't think there's any evidence for staff slings before the Roman empire. These seem the "fist-sized stones' which near eastern slingers like to throw. Remembering some of Rockman's vids, i'd say-- 200 gr per stone ? More ? Slingable by hand, no ?

Anyway you must be right that the relief shows the slings too short for real warslings.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 21st, 2012 at 5:04pm
I think the bas relief is attempting to show masses of slingers and using quite a bit of "artistic license" in the depeiction. There's every reason to believe the slinger's were spaced further apart, but the sculptor didn't have the roon to do it. Looking at it from this angle, we need to realize what's being depicted is a mass of slingers working in unison.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by kentuckythrower on Feb 11th, 2012 at 12:21am
In the thrird picture down, do I detect what could be piles of slingstones at the feet of the slingers? If so, it seems to indicate these fellows intended on staying in place. Perhaps the relief depicts a battle in which the Assyrians were defending a fixed location.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by David Morningstar on Feb 12th, 2012 at 1:22am

They were attacking a fixed location, the city of Lachish.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by kentuckythrower on Feb 12th, 2012 at 7:26am
I just thought it was interseting they weren't carrying their bullets, but rather had them piled on the ground at their feet. This is really interesting since I had never noticed this detail before.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Bill Skinner on Feb 13th, 2012 at 9:15pm
It also looks like they are carrying a reload in their off hand.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by jlasud on Mar 13th, 2012 at 3:31am
It instantly help me realize just how trained they must have been. It busts the image of individual slingers just slinging randomly,instead they probably were trained to sling with uniform moves like take rock from the ground,one in the sling,one in the other hand,one slinging style,perhaps fig 8,reload the sling with the rock in the not slinging hand( this saves time with not having to bend down after 2 shots) also the stone in the other hand may act as a small counterweight. They were probably slinging all at once.With a fig 8 or a similar style they could all sling within a second or two.Imagine the enemy standing and suddenly hundreds of child fists size stones raining down within 1-2 seconds. 5-10 seconds later another shower...

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by kentuckythrower on Mar 14th, 2012 at 9:17am
There are times when I wish I had a time machine at my disposal. I'd bet a dime to your dollar watching a mass of slingers in action had to be an impressive sight.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by jlasud on Mar 14th, 2012 at 2:24pm
we'd probably thank god,we don't have to experience that (again)..well some people still experience war in another form,different scenery,same energies.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by kentuckythrower on Mar 30th, 2012 at 5:07am
Believe me...it hasn't changed too much besides the weaponry.

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by jlasud on Mar 31st, 2012 at 7:51am
Yep,that's what i meant with the same energies..same pain,same hate,same suffering  :-[

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by Bazookabot on Apr 1st, 2012 at 6:44pm
That is some impressive ammo. Imagine how much chiseling work it would have taken to equip an army with those.
(Most ancient art is highly stylized, so I don't think the depiction was intended to be overly realistic.)

Title: Re: Assyrian slingers, British Museum
Post by David Morningstar on Apr 2nd, 2012 at 12:09pm

The ammo on display looks crudely made, rock split into cubes and then having the corners chiselled off until it is roughly round. Much less work than an arrow and hits a heck of a lot harder.

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