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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
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Message started by vrod on Oct 1st, 2020 at 11:39pm

Title: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by vrod on Oct 1st, 2020 at 11:39pm
So technically "best" is subjective. But I wanted to know where the most feared, highly regarded slingers came from. I've heard a lot of the Balearic slingers, greek slingers, slingers from Rhodes, and so on. I've asked other history forums but none had too much knowledge on this topic so I figured I'd ask here. I've seen many articles say Balearic Slingers were the best but I want to see what you guys think.

Also, whatever group it is that was the best, what did their sling look like?

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Sarosh on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 3:16am
that's like asking in 2000 years which team played the best football today. PR will play a bigger role than actual skill.

Benjamites: (they used aimbot)

Quote:
the Benjamites, mentioned in the Book of Judges, could “sling stones at a an hair-breadth and not miss.


Achaeans:(greater accuracy , distance ,power than balearics)

Quote:
Livy (38.29.3-8, tr. Evan T. Sage) refers to the inhabitants of three Greek cities on the northern coast of the Peloponnesus as expert slingers:

“A hundred slingers were recruited from Aegium and Patrae and Dymae. These peoples were trained from boyhood, in accordance with a tradition of the race, in hurling with a sling at the open sea the round stones which, mingled with sand, generally strew the coasts. In consequence they use this weapon at longer range, with greater accuracy, and with more powerful effect than the Balearic slinger. Moreover, the sling is not composed of a single strap, like those of the Baleares and other peoples, but the bullet-carrier is triple, strengthened with numerous seams, that the missile may not fly out at random, from the pliancy of the strap at the moment of discharge, but seated firmly while being whirled, may be shot out as if from a bow-string. Having been trained to shoot through rings of moderate circumference from long distances, they would wound not merely the heads of their enemies but any part of the face at which they might have aimed. These slings prevented the Sameans from making sallies so frequently or so boldly, to such an extent that they begged the Achaeans to withdraw for a while and in quiet to watch them fighting with the Roman outguards.”


Balears: (massive stones, armour breakers, persistent training and tradition)

Quote:
DIODORUS SICULUS, Book XIX.109. wrote:
“The Battle of Eknomos, Sicily, 311 B.C.But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing number were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Balearic Islands and numbered at least a thousand. By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina, contribute a great deal toward victory in battle, since from childhood they practice constantly with the sling. In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them.Their equipment for fighting consists of three slings, and of these they keep one around the head, another around the belly, and the third in the hands. In the business of war they hurl much larger stones than do any other slingers, and with such force that the missile seems to have been shot, as it were, from a catapult; consequently, in their assaults upon walled cities, they strike the defenders on the battlements and disable them, and in pitched battles they crush both shields and helmets and every kind of protective armour. And they are so accurate in their aim that in the majority of cases they never miss the target before them. The reason for this is the continual practice which they get from childhood, in that their mothers compel them, while still young boys, to use the sling continually; for there is set up before them as a target a piece of bread fastened to a stake, and the novice is not permitted to eat until he has hit the bread, whereupon he takes it from his mother with her permission and devours it.”


Rhodians: (effective against persians, great range )

Quote:
XENOPHON, Anabasis book 3 section
[33.3.17] For the latter have only a short range because the stones that are used in them are as large as the hand can hold; the Rhodians, however, are versed also in the art of slinging leaden bullets.
[3.4.15] But when the Rhodian slingers and the bowmen, posted at intervals here and there, sent back an answering volley, and not a man among them missed his mark (for even if he had been very eager to do so, it would not have been easy),1 then Tissaphernes withdrew out of range with all speed, and the other battalions followed his example.


Andean slinger: (critical hits and KOs)

Quote:
During the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in the 15th century, an observer recorded that an Andean slinger could shatter Spanish swords or kill a horse in a single hit (Kormann, 1973; Wise, 1980)


The invention of the sling is attributed by Pliny to the Phoenicians, by Vegetius to the Baleares, (who were Phoenician colonists,) and by Strabo to the Aetolians.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Sarosh on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 3:31am
also I'm pretty sure sling played a huge role in warfare of the bronze age collapse but I haven't read about this period.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by NooneOfConsequence on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 12:33pm
since nobody has mentioned it yet... shepherds are another contender for the group of "best" slingers.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by IronGoober on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 6:06pm
Great summation of some historical references. I'll add this one...

"Observations by Bunkerah on its use in New Caledonia revealed that natives could knock down three out of five fruit bats at 60 yards, using a river-bed stone with a sling. The Hawaiian slingstone was biconical, was 2.65 inches long and weighed 4.73 ounces, a little less than abaseball. The natives shaped it by rolling it between flat stones with motion to right and left as well as back and forth. Using a sling made from pandanus leaf, a skillful warrior hurled a stone so that it revolved on its axis like a rifle bullet."

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1299262416/1#1

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Curious Aardvark on Oct 5th, 2020 at 12:53pm
Well we know that the romans trained and had their own slingers in the legions.

But they still employed balearic slingers as mercenaries - something you would not do if they weren't seriously good, as you were already paying legionnaires with slings. 

And nobody spends money they don't need to.

Then you've got the micronesians.
The slingers on guam held the spanish fleet off for 3 years with slings against firearms.
That's pretty bloody impressive.

Can't recall if the history mentioned it - but i suspect it was a siege like situation and the spanish simply wore the chamorros down with blockades, rather than with force of arms.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Sarosh on Oct 6th, 2020 at 12:12pm
@ vrod

to spice things up you can make this post a poll so people will vote what culture they think had the best slingers.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Kick on Oct 6th, 2020 at 12:54pm

Sarosh wrote on Oct 6th, 2020 at 12:12pm:
@ vrod

to spice things up you can make this post a poll so people will vote what culture they think had the best slingers.

Playing with fire Sarosh :D

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Curious Aardvark on Oct 11th, 2020 at 1:18pm
Poll added

'groups' like shepherds and fishermen - are present in ALL cultures and would have made up the core of most societies slingers..
So not an actual useable category.

Let me know if I missed any or commited an unpardonable sin by lumping sworn enemies together :-)

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Sarosh on Oct 11th, 2020 at 2:10pm

Curious Aardvark wrote on Oct 11th, 2020 at 1:18pm:
Let me know if I missed any or commited an unpardonable sin by lumping sworn enemies together



you forgot benjamites and I would put the greeks in rhodians and achaeans and the andeans and tibetians apart

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Slyngorm on Oct 12th, 2020 at 4:14pm

Sarosh wrote on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 3:16am:
In consequence they use this weapon at longer range, with greater accuracy, and with more powerful effect than the Balearic slinger.


I find it extremely interesting that someone in ancient times compared slingers from two different cultures.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by NooneOfConsequence on Oct 12th, 2020 at 9:59pm
I don’t know that there were that many Tibetan fishermen CA.

+1 on the Benjamites Sarosh! They win on accuracy by a hair.  There’s not a lot of information about whether that was a one-time thing or if it spanned multiple generations, but those 700 lefties should make the list for sure.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by TOMBELAINE on Oct 13th, 2020 at 9:59am
I am agree with Slyngorm. It is interesting.
Greeks are better than Balearic slingers about accuracy and distance and sling. For Tite-live !
I vote for Greeks  :-? but obviously, I don't know if Tite-Live said the truth :-/

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Slyngorm on Oct 13th, 2020 at 11:38am

Sarosh wrote on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 3:16am:
  In the business of war they hurl much larger stones than do any other slingers   


I was recently told by a local Balearic that Carthago used slingers from Menorca while Rome used Mallorcan slingers. Either Balearic slingers as a whole specialized in using larger stones, or did just those from Menorca.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by vrod on Oct 13th, 2020 at 5:01pm

Sarosh wrote on Oct 2nd, 2020 at 3:16am:
that's like asking in 2000 years which team played the best football today. PR will play a bigger role than actual skill.

Benjamites: (they used aimbot)

Quote:
the Benjamites, mentioned in the Book of Judges, could “sling stones at a an hair-breadth and not miss.


Achaeans:(greater accuracy , distance ,power than balearics)
[quote]Livy (38.29.3-8, tr. Evan T. Sage) refers to the inhabitants of three Greek cities on the northern coast of the Peloponnesus as expert slingers:

“A hundred slingers were recruited from Aegium and Patrae and Dymae. These peoples were trained from boyhood, in accordance with a tradition of the race, in hurling with a sling at the open sea the round stones which, mingled with sand, generally strew the coasts. In consequence they use this weapon at longer range, with greater accuracy, and with more powerful effect than the Balearic slinger. Moreover, the sling is not composed of a single strap, like those of the Baleares and other peoples, but the bullet-carrier is triple, strengthened with numerous seams, that the missile may not fly out at random, from the pliancy of the strap at the moment of discharge, but seated firmly while being whirled, may be shot out as if from a bow-string. Having been trained to shoot through rings of moderate circumference from long distances, they would wound not merely the heads of their enemies but any part of the face at which they might have aimed. These slings prevented the Sameans from making sallies so frequently or so boldly, to such an extent that they begged the Achaeans to withdraw for a while and in quiet to watch them fighting with the Roman outguards.”


Balears: (massive stones, armour breakers, persistent training and tradition)

Quote:
DIODORUS SICULUS, Book XIX.109. wrote:
“The Battle of Eknomos, Sicily, 311 B.C.But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing number were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Balearic Islands and numbered at least a thousand. By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina, contribute a great deal toward victory in battle, since from childhood they practice constantly with the sling. In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them.Their equipment for fighting consists of three slings, and of these they keep one around the head, another around the belly, and the third in the hands. In the business of war they hurl much larger stones than do any other slingers, and with such force that the missile seems to have been shot, as it were, from a catapult; consequently, in their assaults upon walled cities, they strike the defenders on the battlements and disable them, and in pitched battles they crush both shields and helmets and every kind of protective armour. And they are so accurate in their aim that in the majority of cases they never miss the target before them. The reason for this is the continual practice which they get from childhood, in that their mothers compel them, while still young boys, to use the sling continually; for there is set up before them as a target a piece of bread fastened to a stake, and the novice is not permitted to eat until he has hit the bread, whereupon he takes it from his mother with her permission and devours it.”


Rhodians: (effective against persians, great range )

Quote:
XENOPHON, Anabasis book 3 section
[33.3.17] For the latter have only a short range because the stones that are used in them are as large as the hand can hold; the Rhodians, however, are versed also in the art of slinging leaden bullets.
[3.4.15] But when the Rhodian slingers and the bowmen, posted at intervals here and there, sent back an answering volley, and not a man among them missed his mark (for even if he had been very eager to do so, it would not have been easy),1 then Tissaphernes withdrew out of range with all speed, and the other battalions followed his example.


Andean slinger: (critical hits and KOs)

Quote:
During the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in the 15th century, an observer recorded that an Andean slinger could shatter Spanish swords or kill a horse in a single hit (Kormann, 1973; Wise, 1980)


The invention of the sling is attributed by Pliny to the Phoenicians, by Vegetius to the Baleares, (who were Phoenician colonists,) and by Strabo to the Aetolians.[/quote]

So would you say those are the top slingers then? And do any of those groups of people still use a sling like the people from Mallorca in the Balearic Islands or no?

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Sarosh on Oct 14th, 2020 at 2:44am

vrod wrote on Oct 13th, 2020 at 5:01pm:
So would you say those are the top slingers then? And do any of those groups of people still use a sling like the people from Mallorca in the Balearic Islands or no?


As I said
Quote:
that's like asking in 2000 years which team played the best football today. PR will play a bigger role than actual skill.
those are the cultures with the best marketing/public relations of the time that got to be written in books.
I believe stone age and bronze age had a lot of slinger-raider cultures we just dont have writtings.

I don't know about Tibetians and Andeans, but from the rest only Balearics seem to have kept the tradition. Didn't the balearics revived it recently?(question to anyone who knows)
Guam revived it recently(?) I don't know the details

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Kick on Oct 14th, 2020 at 11:35am
Tibetans still sling. The Amdocraft ones are made by Tibetan shepherds that still use them everyday.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Thearos on Oct 15th, 2020 at 12:45am
There are various ethnic groups in the "Classical" (anc Med) world mentioned as slingers: Baleares (attested from C4th to C1st BCE), Rhodians (only attested once, in 400 BCE), Achaians (attested C2nd BCE), Akarnanians (429 BCE). The most famous and consistently celebrated are the Baleares. But it's like a very widespread skill in the ancient world (notably for hunting and herding).

I think the pre-Columbian populations (Aztecs, Incas) were also famous slingers, with a tradition that continues until now.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Slyngorm on Oct 16th, 2020 at 12:15pm

Sarosh wrote on Oct 14th, 2020 at 2:44am:
the cultures with the best marketing/public relations of the time that got to be written in books.

And for that reason I think it the best to take note of the skills of slinging cultures when their unique abilities are compared to other slinging cultures. Say, anyone could write that Greek slingers could hit an ant at a distance of 2000000 kilometres with a rock the size of a mountain. Instead I find highlighting the specific skills of a certain culture compared to another a much better indication of the actual skill set of that culture. Also I find it unlikely that any slinging culture was objectively better than any other.

PR still played a role for certain but it makes at least a little more sense.



Thearos wrote on Oct 15th, 2020 at 12:45am:
There are various ethnic groups in the "Classical" (anc Med) world mentioned as slingers: Baleares (attested from C4th to C1st BCE), Rhodians (only attested once, in 400 BCE), Achaians (attested C2nd BCE), Akarnanians (429 BCE). The most famous and consistently celebrated are the Baleares. But it's like a very widespread skill in the ancient world (notably for hunting and herding).


Sarosh wrote on Oct 14th, 2020 at 2:44am:
I believe stone age and bronze age had a lot of slinger-raider cultures we just dont have writtings.


I think that slinging existed in almost all cultures but it was often looked down upon as a peasants weapon (for obvious reasons) so for example the Romans didn't care too much to train slingers to a professional level.

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Thearos on Oct 17th, 2020 at 4:12pm
The best evidence for Rome is in the late treatise from Vegetius, mentioning how legionaries were trained in stone throwing by hand and with a sling. Slinging also occasionally turns up in the training regimens of citizen militas in Hellenistic cities (say ca. 200 BCE). But true it's not very highly regarded.
Lecuyer_Slinger.jpg (88 KB | 6 )

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Slyngorm on Oct 19th, 2020 at 4:14pm
According to this wiki page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercenaries_of_the_ancient_Iberian_Peninsula

Balerian slingers were utilized by the Romans as late as the 4th century. That is the same time that Vegetius lived. If Balearians were in no short supply I wonder for what reason they began training their own. 
Also does anyone know when slinging died out on the islands?

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Thearos on Oct 25th, 2020 at 9:42pm
I don't think that's correct, namely I don't think there is any evidence for Balearic slingers used after Caesar's time. There were no slinger units in the imperial army, so if Baleares served it was a regular infantry. (See e.g. Cheesman, The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army, 1915, 131-2). The wiki page is inaccurate (and loosely phrased).

In any case, slinging still continues as a living tradition in the Balearic islands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dhHR_gGBi8




Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Curious Aardvark on Oct 28th, 2020 at 12:50pm
I remember that carpark :-)
Slung there a couple times.

That scrubland, just behind the targets is an actual footpath, and occasionally people appear and wander across the kill line.

The compund on the left is some sort of rubbish/recycling centre - not sure what they make of the occasional stone that crosses the fence :whistle:

Title: Re: Who were the "best slingers" of the ancient times.
Post by Kick on Oct 28th, 2020 at 3:31pm
Most people hated slinging there. Sun in your eyes, slinging uphill which pretty much no-one was used to, then it got freezing cold once the sun went down. I did terrible there. I think I hit the target ONCE. Much better in the centre of Palma.

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