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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Slings in North America
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Message started by xxkid123 on Jan 15th, 2012 at 6:48pm

Title: Slings in North America
Post by xxkid123 on Jan 15th, 2012 at 6:48pm
As a library volunteer i'm often shelving and cleaning books so that i come into contact with many books. I found a book on Chumash tribes in California. Being me i flipped over the the hunting and fishing section in search of slings. I found a short one sentence statement about slings used in Chumash tribes. I forget the title of the book, and I can't find the book on Google books either. It was a pamphlet/ small paper bound book designed as an aid to student in the California Education system to provide more detailed information on individual tribes in California (the standards don't cover much).

The statement said only "slingshots could kill birds and small animals". The only reason i thought this was somewhat interesting was that disproves a statement before that stated in North America slings may have been introduced to the Native Americans by the Europeans (i.g. the Apache). However, the Pamphlet was based on Pre-European contact culture.

Just found out the link i was referring to, http://slinging.org/index.php?page=the-chumash-sling---paul-campbell. it supports parts of  the article that the Chumash had native slingers. However, based on the pamphlet it was probably a toy to the Chumash as compared to their bows. Based on the article it was used for war?  

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by Masiakasaurus on Jan 15th, 2012 at 7:20pm
A lot of what we think we know of pre-Columbian America is inference based on what was observed after European Contact. There's credible evidence to suggest that the "Plains Indians" were actually Eastern tribes that migrated west after the first settlers from Europe arrived and had only lived on the great plains for one or two generations. A statement about the sling being used in pre-Columbian America needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It could still have been imported from Europe and have had enough time to become a part of the culture that no one at the time of that pamphlet's writing remembered a time when the sling wasn't used.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by bigkahuna on Jan 15th, 2012 at 10:29pm
From what I know of North American Tribes, I think the sling was too widely disseminated throughout North America to have been picked up from Europeans. It also appears in the earliest European journals. Much too early to have been something just picked up.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by wanderer on Jan 16th, 2012 at 2:09am
I think there is little doubt that slings were known and used in North America in pre-Columbian times. That's not to say it might not have been re-introduced to some of the tribes later.

If you believe occupation of North and South America came via Asia, then the occupiers certainly brought slings with them then. We know for certain that they were in use everywhere else along that line but in North America in preColumbian times.

The Lovelock Cave (North American Southwest) sling may be the oldest extant in the world, I seem to remember it dates before the preserved Egyptian examples by a substantial margin. Long before Columbus, or the Vikings, or anyone else came from Europe.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by David Morningstar on Jan 16th, 2012 at 4:47am

From our own wiki:

The oldest sling from the New World was uncovered in Lovelock Cave, Nevada. The sling was found next to partially mummified body of a 6 year old male and was originally dated to about 272-792 B.C. These dates have since been revised, due to more accurate carbon dating methods, and now place the sling around 1222 B.C. It was woven from Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum).

http://slinging.org/wiki/index.php?title=Famous_Historical_Slings

However, the Egyptian Kahun sling in Manchester, UK is older at 1800 BC.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by wanderer on Jan 16th, 2012 at 12:07pm

David Morningstar wrote on Jan 16th, 2012 at 4:47am:
From our own wiki:

The oldest sling from the New World was uncovered in Lovelock Cave, Nevada. The sling was found next to partially mummified body of a 6 year old male and was originally dated to about 272-792 B.C. These dates have since been revised, due to more accurate carbon dating methods, and now place the sling around 1222 B.C. It was woven from Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum).

http://slinging.org/wiki/index.php?title=Famous_Historical_Slings

However, the Egyptian Kahun sling in Manchester, UK is older at 1800 BC.

Thanks for the correction. I remember comparing my notes when the Lovelock sling was redated and coming to the conclusion that it was the oldest anywhere - apparently not :).

At any rate, slings were around in the New World a long time before Columbus.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by timann on Jan 17th, 2012 at 2:03pm
I seem to remember from the old Icelandc Norse sagas that Leiv Ericson and the gang met natives with slings when they reached America some 500 years before Columbus.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by xxkid123 on Jan 17th, 2012 at 5:06pm
It was a short statement that showed the author hadn't taken much effort to research up on it. I felt that it was only worth posting because it negated some statement i heard before and thought it was worth showing. Good to know that you guys agree and I'm not just jumping to strange conclusions ;D


I did forget about the Lovelock cave sling which greatly out dates Columbus.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by thabaill on Jan 17th, 2012 at 6:30pm
There are accounts about the use of the sling by the indians when they fought against the Spaniards. So I think that the first settlers carry slings with them when they crossed the Bering Strait from Asia.


Quote:
When Columbus discovered America

When the Spanish began colonizing America would meet again with the sling, now managed, among other weapons, with great skill by the natives. Since Cortes, when he enters the city of Mexico and makes Moztezuma prisoner has to endure harassment by the sling well of the long and dreadful darts thrown with "tiraderas" (atlatl).
In fact, Moztezuna, who had been disowned by his people because of their weakness to the Spanish, dies sling a stone thrown from a distance, and he sank half of the temple.

But it will Pizarro, in his brilliant conquest of Peru, which will have the opportunity to appreciate the importance that the Incas were in a sling, his weapon of choice in the fight from a distance. Huayna Capac the Inca king, according to a written tradition, went to war on a litter from red to sling projectile fired his gold.
In general, all used the Andean sling and rich in references to the chroniclers of the conquest of their effectiveness in the hands of the Indians. One of these writers relates to sling a stone could kill a horse and break into two long and robust Spanish swords.

http://perso.wanadoo.es/hondero/temas.htm


You can see North American slings here

http://perso.wanadoo.es/hondero/sling34.html

Greetings.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by Masiakasaurus on Jan 17th, 2012 at 7:41pm
Slings are definitely known to have existed in South America prior to contact with Europeans, but we really don't know all that much about North American usage. Did the descendants of the tribe which produced the Lovelock sling still live in that same area at the time of European colonization? Did any other tribes use slings? Did North American slinging develop from a preexisting Siberian tradition, was it reintroduced by European contact or was the sling independently invented in South American and spread north along with the maize trade? How about a combination of any of those origins?

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by thabaill on Jan 21st, 2012 at 8:16am
Hi

Here where you can read "Indios Norteamerica" (what means North American Indians" :D ) if you click you can see many North American slings.

http://perso.wanadoo.es/hondero/museo.htm

Where you can read "Honda indígena de México" ("Native sling from Mexico"). As far as I know Mexico is part of North America and only the Southernmost belongs to Central America)

What I don't know is if they are originally from the North American Natives or if the Indians saw it from the fist European settlers. I think the first option far more likely.

Greetings.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 21st, 2012 at 4:32pm
I think it's entirely possible the first inhabitants of the Americas brought slings with them. I saw a brief article somewhere on the www stating they may have been used in conjunction with spearthrowers to bring dow such large game as wooly mammoth. As I see it. thrown stones were THE first form of projectile weapon, and primitive men had enough smarts to figure out that if they somehow increased arm length, they could generate more force and range.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 10th, 2012 at 11:06pm
As prehistoric evidence goes, the Lovelock cave find is the only indisputable evidence we have, but some clay balls in California sites have been interpreted as sling projectiles. Means, writing in 1919, referenced these sites but I haven't been able to find original site descriptions of the clay objects.

However, I have been looking a lot into the ethnographic record and it is pretty convincing to me. Firstly, the geographic scope of the sling's use seems to have been very broad. Though most of my research hits have been along the pacific coast or in the Southwest, I have references to sling use among the Cherokee and various Inuit groups. Secondly, slings seem to have been adapted to a wide variety of tasks, including small-game and waterfowl hunting, warfare, ritualized combats, defending crops from pest species and as toys (naturally enough, everyone agrees you have to start young). If slings were introduced at contact, it seems unlikely that they would have been so quickly and readily adapted to new purposes - especially since European contact brought better technology (namely guns). In fact, the ethnographies I've been through thus far mostly talk about declining sling use as European goods become more common. Several ethnographers outright state that the sling "is an aboriginal weapon" or something to that effect.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by kentuckythrower on Feb 10th, 2012 at 11:30pm
Do you have a date on that Lovelock sling?

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 11th, 2012 at 12:11am
The radiocarbon date for the lowest layer is 2482+-260 years BP, but the child's burial (at least in the 1952 Heizer article) is not directly dated. They only state that the sling is definitely no older than this, and "probably somewhat younger". Using AMS 14C dating it may be possible to date either the bones or the sling directly, but as these are from a burial context it runs directly into NAGPRA so I think improvement on this dating is unlikely.

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by RDY on Feb 11th, 2012 at 3:54am
I'm going to leak over from my New Book topic and engage in some more shameless self promotion. I think you will find that our book, Slings & Slingstones, The Forgotten Weapons of Oceania and the Americas, just published (finally) by the Kent State University Press, addresses many of the questions posed here. It is currently a featured book at, and can be purchased at, www.kentstateuniversitypress.com , also available thru other online vendors like Amazon and B&N, who are offering it at a lower price.  

I do want to say a couple things. Lovelock Cave was not quite the only site which yielded pre-Columbian slings in N. America. Slings were also recovered from nearby Humboldt Cave, Nevada. These dated younger than the Lovelock sling, to ca. 2000 years ago (YA). Also, it appears that the oldest, surviving, slings in the world, RC dated to more than 4000 YA, were recovered from Peruvian Preceramic sites. The simple reference for this info. is, "see our book". But other than that, a ref. for Humboldt Cave is: The Archaeology of Humboldt Cave, Churchill County, Nevada, 1956, by Robert F. Heizer and Alex D. Krieger. Refs for Peruvian Preceramic slings are: The Preceramic Excavations at Huaca Prieta Chicama Valley, Peru, 1985, by Junius B. Bird and John Hyslop; Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization, 1992, by Richard L. Burger; A Preceramic Settlement on the Central Coast of Peru, Asia, Unit 1, 1963, by Frederick Engel.                            

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by David Morningstar on Feb 11th, 2012 at 8:46am

I'm tempted, but for £28 it needs to be good....

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by RDY on Feb 11th, 2012 at 1:41pm
Obviously I think it's "good" and worth the money. But we'll just have to see what unbiased readers think as it gets read and the critics start to weigh in. That said, I wish it had been priced lower, but I'm afraid that decision was out of our (the authors) hands. I don't know how much you've hunted around online, but you might find some lower prices, or wait around a little more and some vendors will probably start discounting a bit -- like Amazon and B & N in the U.S. already have. You might also suggest to local libraries, museums, institutions of higher learning, that they acquire it and then just check it out or read it there.        

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 11th, 2012 at 6:31pm
I didn't know about the Humbolt Cave find, thanks for providing this info!

Title: Re: Slings in North America
Post by timothy42b on Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:29am
I have always had a mental image of a stable native American population, slowly disrupted by the movement of Europeans west, but not rapidly changing otherwise.

However, some recent reading suggests a large indigenous population (in the range of 20 million) particularly in the central Mississippi and plains area.  Contact with the Europeans and the Old World diseases killed 95% of them.  

That must have left a considerable vaccuum for Eastern tribes to expand into, and maybe it confuses the evidence for local use of slings and bows.  

I'm speculating, don't really know anything about this, but it is fascinating.  

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