Welcome, Guest. Please Login
SLINGING.ORG
 
Home Help Search Login


Pages: 1 2 
Send Topic Print
Sling mysteries (Read 7989 times)
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Sling mysteries
Feb 5th, 2012 at 9:48am
 
Hey gang. My son has a project at school where he's to do a presentation on some aspect of ancient Greek society, culture, military science, etc... Well, he's decided to do a presentation on the use of the sling in the ancient Greek armies. We're going to make a few different kinds of slings. We planned on doing a split-pocket baeleric style, a leather pouch style and a woven pouch style. We will make some clay bullets and cast some lead glands using a very primitive method.

As I researched this issue, I ran across the reconstruction of the Etruscan sling and the comments by Livy comparing the Achaean sling (3 braids) to the Baeleric (1 braid). I understand that there is a lot of uncertainty about this topic and just what Livy was saying. What I took from it is that the modern split pouch sling of the Baelerics may not be the same type they used in ancient times. It's my opinion that it still could be but there's room to doubt. Some have mused that the reconstructed Etruscan sling could be similar or influenced by the Achaean. It's difficult to say that it's the same, at least a braided version would be different.

I have seen on this site and elsewhere some instructions on braiding the Etruscan sling. Has anyone experimented with a three thong/braid sling like Livy describes was used by the Achaens? If you're familiar with the passage, how do you interpret it? Are we taking about three leather thongs braided up the cord then split for the pouch, the latter being reinforced in some manner? That seems like the cords would be very heavy. Was the pouch net-like? Maybe woven?

I'm interested in your point of view so my son can share thoughts on this matter with his class. I would also love to see any speculative reconstructions.

Lastly, if the ancient Baeleric sling was a one-piece operation, has anyone tried this? I've brain-tained goat hide and it seems like it, or brain-tanned deer, would be useable for such a sling. I don't think veggie tanned would work. If you've tried this, how does it work?

May it be blessed,
Todd
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
xxkid123
Past Moderator
*
Offline


Hallo, ich heiße kartoffel

Posts: 4807
new to california
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #1 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 2:14pm
 
I have never heard that passage, and so I've always assumed slings were made from braided fibers for the Balearics, and "well twisted wool" for the Archaens. In terms of using braided leather as a sling cord; I feel like it would be too stretchy. I haven't ever had enough leather on hand to braid with, but from what I've seen it would be far inferior to natural cordage and wool. Cordage is water resistant and extremely flexible. Also, most leather sling's i've seen in history are all one piece non braided constructions. 

Here's a common design I see
...
Normally if the sling is being braided, and it used in a society where leather is common, the pouch is made from leather, and the cords are made from twisted or braided sinew.

Perhaps there was a mistake in the translation where Livy meant to say the cords where braided, and leather was added on to reinforce the pouch? No offense to the translator of course. I don't speak greek so I can't comment on this in too much depth.

Either way, good luck with you and your son's project.
Back to top
 

There's no break, there's no end, just a-living on;&&Wide awake, with a smile, going on and on.
xxkid123 tanma101  
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #2 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 3:43pm
 
It's from a passage from him History of Rome, BOOK XXXVIII. XXIX. 2-9. It referes to the Achaeans. Here are a few different translations I've found on-line:

"recorded One hundred slingers were brought from iEgium Patne and Dymae These men according to the customary practice of that nation were exercised from their childhood in throwing with a sling into the open sea the round pebbles with which mixed with sand the shores were generally strewn therefore they cast weapons of that sort to a greater distance with surer aim and more powerful effect than even the Balea rian slingers Besides their sling does not consist merely of a single strap like the Balearic and that of other nations but the thong of the sling is three fold and made firm by several seams that the bullet may not by the yielding of the strap in the act of throwing be let fly at random but after sticking fast while whirled about it may be discharged as if sent from the string of a bow Being accustomed to drive their bullets through circular marks of small circumference placed at a great distance they not only hit the enemy's heads but any part of their face that they aimed at These slings checked the Saniaeans from sallying either so frequently or so boldly insomuch that they would sometimes from the walls beseech the Achaeans to retire for a while and be quiet spectators of their fight with the Roman guards Same supported a siege of four months "

Here's another:

"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 bowstring."

My understanding is that there is some uncertainty as to what Livy is referring to when he mentions "sed triplex scutale" (where something is triple). Some believe the "scutale" is the pouch while other believe it could be one of the thongs. It's interseting that one translation suggests that a projectile might fly out prematurely or haphazardly due to the "pliancy" of the strap/thong", but here the word it not scutale.  It would seem that the Achaeans had a well developed pocket or at least rather different from other cultures. The strange part is that this haphazard flight "from the pliancy of the strap" occurred "at the moment of discharge".  So, is the flight problem describe by Livy in other slings due to 1) not having a defined pocket or 2) the pliancy of the strap/thong that the Achaeans did not have?  Livy uses the scutale word when discussing the cestrosphendone and it doesn't have a pouch.

I suppose that he could always be referring to the pouch, first in general when he indicates that it is triple but then specifically regarding the nature of the thongs making up the pouch. So, the Achaean pouch is triple and because it is stengthened with numerous seams, the thongs of the pouch are not so pliant that they allow the projectile to escape as with the slings of the Baleares and elsewhere.

If the pouch is made up of three thongs, if that is what triple means, then what could "strengthened by numerous seams" mean? Could be a net like arrangement with the three thongs tied together with strings of fiber? Could it be that the three thongs are the skeleton of the pouch and the "numerous seams" refers to a simple weaving with plant fiber? Puzzling to me.

Well, I look forward to ideas anyone has. Thanks.

Todd

Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
Thearos
Interfector Viris Spurii
*****
Offline


Take that

Posts: 3262
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #3 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 3:44pm
 
This from Livy's description of the Achaian slingers at the siege of Same in 189 (based on Polybios):

[quote removed]
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
Thearos
Interfector Viris Spurii
*****
Offline


Take that

Posts: 3262
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #4 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 3:46pm
 
Latin:

Itaque longius certiusque et ualidiore ictu quam Baliaris funditor eo telo usi sunt. Et est non simplicis habenae, ut Baliarica aliarumque gentium funda, sed triplex scutale, crebris suturis duratum, ne fluxa habena uolutetur in iactu glans, sed librata cum sederit, uelut neruo missa excutiatur.

Note that

1. what is meant by "triple thong reinforced by tight stitching" is pretty unclear

2. Livy is translating from Polybios' Greek. Polybios was an Achaian, so knew about slingers etc; but Livy didn't always understand what he read in Polybios (there are famous cases of mistranslation). Here, we only have the text of Livy, since Polybios only survives in fragments for this particular bit.
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #5 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 4:56pm
 
Thearos,

Thanks. It makes it all quite murky. Either Livy was trying to make a point, the difference between the various slingers, or he was just stating what to him was a quaint fact from Polybius. Are you suggesting a historian wrote about something of which he lacked knowledge?  Grin

So, what do we make of this? Did the Balearics at one point have a one-piece sling without a defined "pouch", or is that a legitimate description of what we now know as a Balearic sling? It's still one unit and there isn't a "pouch" so to speak.

If the Achaean sling was made of three thongs, could it simply be a piece of leather for each of the cords and one for the pouch? Is the "triple" merely indicating a three-part sling like many of us make when attaching a pouch to cords? This style is clearly different from braided sling like Balearic or Peruvian, which is all "one piece". Just a thought.

Hope folks don't find this annoying but I like the mystery here. It seems Polybius believed there was some advantage to the Achaean sling. Maybe he was a pouch guy as opposed to a braided style guy. Never heard anyone take sides in that dispute before.  Wink Maybe he was just pro-Greek.

May it be blessed,
Todd
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
xxkid123
Past Moderator
*
Offline


Hallo, ich heiße kartoffel

Posts: 4807
new to california
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #6 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 5:08pm
 
I think Livy might have referred to the single strap of the Balearic sling as the entire thing, rather than just the pouch. As such the Balearic sling is made completely from one mass of fibers, nothing added in except for the occasional leather to reinforce. Perhaps Livy was trying to demonstrate that the pouch was made from several pieces that was added in? Then it would be extremely similar to slings from the pacific, which also has multiple straps (usually 5) and have the cords attached to the pouch through the base of the splits, or possibly the 'seams'?

...

If you look at the ends of the pouch or at the 'seams' there is a small bit of cord woven in to organize the cords. Perhaps he was trying to refer to this? But then it doesn't make complete sense, as 3 straps don't require a mechanism as elaborate as this, as opposed to 5 strands which can easily become tangled in comparison.
Back to top
 

There's no break, there's no end, just a-living on;&&Wide awake, with a smile, going on and on.
xxkid123 tanma101  
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #7 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 5:25pm
 
Kid,

I think you are correct that the Balearic sling is one piece and this is could be the distinction he was making. If the Greeks were throwing anything but large rocks, a well-formd pouch would perform better with small glands. Perhaps this was the point he was making and he felt the Achaean pouch was better. Trying to throw smaller glans in a Balearic styled pouch can be difficult. I vaguely remember that the Balearics did use larger rocks.

Where is the sling in the picture you posted from? That is beautiful. What is it made of? Can you direct me to a picture that gives a close up of the pouch? Not sure which cords you are referring to that organize the cords. Is it that line of cordage that goes across the end of the pouch?

Todd
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
xxkid123
Past Moderator
*
Offline


Hallo, ich heiße kartoffel

Posts: 4807
new to california
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #8 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 5:42pm
 
paleryder wrote on Feb 5th, 2012 at 5:25pm:
Kid,

Where is the sling in the picture you posted from? That is beautiful. What is it made of? Can you direct me to a picture that gives a close up of the pouch? Not sure which cords you are referring to that organize the cords. Is it that line of cordage that goes across the end of the pouch?

Todd


Sorry, it's my personal secret. Let's just say it'll cost you a bit of cha-ching to get my collection  Wink

Jk, It's the National Museum of Natural History (US that is). http://research.amnh.org/anthropology/database/collections

I usually use cross collections search, but sometimes I might choose a specific region, in that case i chose the pacific region. Typing in 'sling' is usually good enough. You'll find a few baby slings and slingshots scattered in there, but for the most part it's all relevant.
Back to top
 

There's no break, there's no end, just a-living on;&&Wide awake, with a smile, going on and on.
xxkid123 tanma101  
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #9 - Feb 5th, 2012 at 6:05pm
 
Nice collection you have there. You'll have to let me borrow some of those slings some time.

It is amazing how the technology and style is so similar a world apart. Very nice site. Thanks for the info.
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
Curious Aardvark
Slinging.org Administrator
*****
Offline


Taller than the average
Dwarf

Posts: 12123
Midlands England
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #10 - Feb 7th, 2012 at 6:43am
 
I actually have a braided leather sling, I bartered from one of our old swedish members a few years back (can't remember his name but a very talented bloke).
Heavy duty bit of kit and definitely not prone to stretching. 
Should be some pics around somewhere...

Well there are, I just can't find them lol

I'll dig out the sling later - pretty sure i know where it is Smiley
Back to top
 

Do All things with Honour and Generosity: Regret Nothing, Envy None, Apologise Seldom and Bow your head to No One  - works for me Smiley
 
IP Logged
 
Masiakasaurus
Slinging.org Moderator
*****
Offline


mah-SEE-a-kah-SOR-us

Posts: 6067
Alabama, USA
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #11 - Feb 7th, 2012 at 8:44am
 
Something that I've run into when going over historical texts is that in a lot of cases the translator used his best guess for which one of many applicable words to translate to. While you read, "braided in three parts" the original text could have meant "knotted, differentiating the three sections" or "three sections twisted differently." This is even more of a problem with the translator has no first hand knowledge of what he write. I don't know much more than the average person about the Ancient Greeks, but the braided/twisted/knotted problem is common in translating Ancient Hebrew writing into English.
Back to top
 

Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
~Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily avialable, they will create their own problems.~
WWW elsabio04  
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #12 - Feb 7th, 2012 at 9:02am
 
Good point.
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
Hondero
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 463
Madrid-SPAIN
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #13 - Feb 9th, 2012 at 2:04pm
 
A matter certainly intriguing and that like cestrosphendone will never be completely clear because of the ambiguity of translations, first from Greek into Latin and then from Latin into modern languages. Both Livius and modern translators are not weapon specialists, and cause confusion when trying to explain what they have not seen and have not well understood (Livius always spoke by the mouth or other´s  texts).
Years ago I spent some time researching the matter, both to unravel the structure of the old Balearic sling  and the Achaean one. The current Balearic sling is probably not the same as the old one, not even equal to that used in past centuries in Balearic islands. The current sling comes from Andalusia and was brought by some basketmakers that settled in the islands sixty  years ago, among them and mainly the well known Diego Camuñas.  
It is possible that the former Balearic sling was made out of one piece of leather, a simple strap perhaps somewhat wider in the central zone. It's a design that many people have used, including the Romans. The Achaean sling was a precision one and therefore it was important that the bullet (glans, as specifically says Livius) do not move and slip out the pouch while spinning, as can happen in a simple strap sling. The Achaean sling would have a shallow cup-shaped pouch consisting of three pieces of leather sewn together to shape the concavity. The reality will never be known, but the explanation given by Livius suggests that design. The famous and intriguing word "scutale, pl. scutalia" which appears only twice in all Latin texts preserved, and the two by Livius, was probably a word adapted by him to refer specifically to the part or parts forming the pouch. The root "scut" is common in Latin and refers frequently to hollow forms, as scutum (shield),  scutella (cup), scutula (plate).
Back to top
 

He brought a conquering sword..., a shield..., a spear... , a sling from which no erring shot was discharged.&&
WWW  
IP Logged
 
paleryder
Descens
***
Offline



Posts: 103
Le Roy, IL
Gender: male
Re: Sling mysteries
Reply #14 - Feb 9th, 2012 at 2:15pm
 
I think we've seen some sown pouches on this site. Has anyone done a three-part pouch with leather?

I'm going try and find a sufficiently long piece of leather to try a one-piece sling and see how that works. I'm very uncertain as to the quality and weight of leather to use. Braintanned? Bark-tanned? Veggie-tanned? Who know?. Not sure if I should just have the pouch part wider or attempt to form a pouch, or at least a depression of sorts, through softening and stretching.

Todd
Back to top
 
 
IP Logged
 
Pages: 1 2 
Send Topic Print
(Moderators: David Morningstar, Masiakasaurus, Bill Skinner, Rat Man, Curious Aardvark, Chris, Mauro Fiorentini) - (Moderator Group: Forum Moderator)