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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> The Sling in War
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Message started by Alex.Ost on Jan 19th, 2017 at 12:54pm

Title: The Sling in War
Post by Alex.Ost on Jan 19th, 2017 at 12:54pm
Hey folks

Ever since i started to sling myself (and after playing Rome 2) i wondered how Slings were used in Battles. I can easily imagine how they were used in small skirmishes sure, but in a big Battle?
For example:
Im not very comfortable if someone is standing in a distance of 3 meters from my right Arm when im slinging in fear of me screwing up completely and somehow hurling the Stone purely sideways into the Person or even just whacking them with my Sling because they might just stand too close   ::)
(This of course hasnt happened yet - im not that bad at slinging)

Where they used in files like depicted in Rome 2 and how you would deploy Archers? its the first obvious Thought, but i cant imagine that. Slinging above or between a line of guys before you? Hell no. Heads would be hit. Also you need much more space to operate your Sling than a Bow.
Single file is possible but not exactly sensible. Stretching your Slingers over the whole front is probably not what they did.
But how were they deployed? Maybe in smaller groups who just loosely form a blob?

Do you have any idea or maybe even a source wich tells us about it?

If you havent played Rome 2 you can check out how the Slingers deploy there and why i dont think thats very accurate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ek8VRcKLTQ
At 1.49 you can see them slinging in close up. They are standing so thight they would punch each other! I like that they are using smallish Shield however. Thats something i want to try out too.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Bill Skinner on Jan 20th, 2017 at 12:21pm
Slings were used in large battles, usually on the flanks of the large bodies or out in front as a screening/scouting force.

They would normally move out in front of the infantry formation and attack the other sides infantry if they could but usually ended up engaging the other side's light troops out in front of their troops.  As the main bodies closed, the slingers would move out of the way and off to the flanks and continue to bombard the other side's forces.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by kicktheotter on Jan 20th, 2017 at 12:53pm
Well I think it would depend on the particular army. Roman, Greek, Celtic, Israelite, Aztec... I would imagine they all had their own tactics.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by slingbadger on Jan 21st, 2017 at 6:35am
They could also be deployed in front with archers to help break up front lines. Think about waves of stones/glandes and arrows coming down on you.
  They were used from high places, showering ammo down on the enemy.   

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by WojtekimbieR on Jan 22nd, 2017 at 6:04am
I can relate to your discomfort. I'd been shooting a bow for two years by myself before joining an archery club. It felt extremely awkward to have other people standing right next to you when shooting. It took a few weeks to get used to but the discomfort did go away.
It makes me think experienced sling 'units' could form up quite tightly if they had to, instead of being stretched very wide, without hitting one another.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by slingbadger on Jan 22nd, 2017 at 6:50am
In the case of the Romans at least, they drilled using the same throwing style. This way they acted as a unit, and everyone knew what the person next to them was doing. Very effective.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Thearos on Jan 22nd, 2017 at 1:24pm
Might I mention an earlier discussion here

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1239494170

and also a discussion of "point-blank" slinging
http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1271543402/4#4

and a discussion by Fundibularius
http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1237763355/4#4

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Parmenion on Feb 12th, 2017 at 3:55pm

Bill Skinner wrote on Jan 20th, 2017 at 12:21pm:
They would normally move out in front of the infantry formation and attack

probably something like this or similar

the way i imagine it is:
a mingled mob of peltasts(slingers,archers,javelineers) and anyone who is ready and finds a chance does a little run up towards the enemy throwing or releasing and then returns in the mob to reload and makes space for the other one who's ready to throw.
of course archer needn't to get out of the mob...

from the book i ve read about Alexander the great ,
they didnt seem to distinguish slingers from archers or javelineers

also a question i want to add:
where did they kept the stones?
i have a sling bag which can hold 40-60 stones but it is a big burden to sling with it hanging, can't run or sling with a stride and it messes the sychronisation.
walking with it requires the occupation of one hand otherwise it swings around and hits my knees and hips

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Thearos on Feb 19th, 2017 at 1:24pm
I know of two painted images in vases (one C6th, one C5th) that show slingers with bags held on the left arm. It's doable.

Here's the cup ca. 480-460 BCE (the Makron cup, which I discussed elsewhere on the forum).
Makron2_003.jpg (70 KB | 98 )

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Thearos on Feb 19th, 2017 at 1:30pm
This is a black figure cup ca. 550 BCE
Slinger_ca_550_001.jpeg (30 KB | 90 )

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Parmenion on Feb 19th, 2017 at 4:20pm
i hang the bag on my waist so i can collect stones without loading the spine and having to bend with the weight on the shoulders.
the bag is around 7-9 kg
i empty it on the ground beside me before slinging.

a 7 kg bag on the bicep while slinging to kill will be a good workout :P
in the pictures they probably used less stones or lighter.
but in battle i believe 60 stones is a must.... so what i'm saying is that they probably had people carrying the stones to the frontline or they laid them on the ground once they where in position to sling.



Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Thearos on Feb 19th, 2017 at 7:09pm
Yes. I think the bag thing is a tactical load, e.g. 20 stones times 120g= for fighting in the line.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Mark-Harrop on Mar 4th, 2017 at 5:31am
Assyrian slingers were clearly in rank and file behind the archers using an overhand throw, which is a necessity in a formation.


Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by yonderstone on Mar 5th, 2017 at 2:50pm
Why is an overhand throw a necessity? Wouldn't an underhand throw work just as well?

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Mark-Harrop on Mar 6th, 2017 at 11:51am

yonderstone wrote on Mar 5th, 2017 at 2:50pm:
Why is an overhand throw a necessity? Wouldn't an underhand throw work just as well?


Not if you have to throw over the heads of the archers.


Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Parmenion on Mar 6th, 2017 at 3:15pm
Note the stones between ranks and in hands....

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Morphy on Mar 7th, 2017 at 7:37am
Interesting that the Assyrians show the slings in mid throw but the Roman or Greek (?) shows them holding the pouch in front of them in that very strange position. Is this position really what they used? Is the Greek throw that we all assume starts in that position really their throw or was it just the accepted way artists would depict a slinger at that time?

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Parmenion on Mar 7th, 2017 at 8:25am
i don't know how much we should base our ideas on ancient artistic depictions but look at the slings :
Greeks depict the two cords while the Assyrians depict one cord
could it be differences in sling types/ grips (wide vs narrow) / artistic preference?

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Morphy on Mar 7th, 2017 at 1:31pm
I agree. I'm more inclined to believe the Assyrian right off because their depiction shows them in formation , and the slings are quite short. Which may be logical considering you are swinging them near other people's heads. Maybe they weighed the benefit of tighter packed formation and increased shot speed over looser packed formation, slower reload but longer range.  All of that makes sense to me and you can make an argument for both.

Maybe the Greek position and hanging the ammo bag on the arm all makes perfect sense. The Greeks and Romans were well known for refined military tactics, so it's very possible they came up with something that offered an advantage. Unfortunately I really can't say what that would be based on those pictures. 

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Jaegoor on Mar 21st, 2017 at 4:51pm
Bilder wie auf der Trajan Säule sind schlichtweg nicht möglich . Und auch nicht sinnvoll. Wir haben es mehrfach versucht. Sie tragen ihre Steine nicht in einem Mantel . Und in der selben Hand noch einen Schild. Das funktioniert nicht.

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Jaegoor on Mar 22nd, 2017 at 7:04pm
Head Shot
582095b9344138bb1be95f5fad15f87f.jpg (38 KB | 65 )

Title: Re: The Sling in War
Post by Huaraca on Apr 6th, 2017 at 10:54am
Jaegoor, that is a great illustration!  Looks like a portrayal of the Philistine champion Goliath from the Bible.  Any ideas of where the painting is located? I can't read the Latin, but a higher resolution image might be helpful.

Of course one of the most prolific sling-using-armies was that of the Inca empire, and pre-Incaic civilizations too.  Protective padding of cotton and wool fabric as armor, clubs and spears for close range use, and the sling as the principal ranged weapon.  There are stories from the siege of Cuzco where red-hot sling stones were wrapped in pitch-soaked cloth.  This bundle would immediately begin to smoke and smolder, and then it would be slung, which would cause it to burst into flame due to the oxygen rushing in from the velocity of the hurl.  Such missiles were used to burn the thatched roofs and encampments of enemies, in this case, Spaniards and their allies in the capital.

In modern-day riots and insurrections, the vast majority of missiles are hand thrown... Nonetheless, with tear gas cannisters, baton rounds, and various counter-protesters thrown in, particularly in places where the sling remains in use, the sling turns up every now and then, although the sling shot seems much more common.

These dated images of the mob violence in Tahrir Square, Cairo show the extemporized protective headgear and shields--even pavises-- primarily to protect against hand-thrown stones.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/8301665/Protesters-improvise-helmets-and-shields-to-protect-against-stones-in-Cairo-Egypt.html?image=4


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