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JSTOR Article FYI (Read 381 times)
paleryder
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JSTOR Article FYI
Apr 11th, 2017 at 12:07am
 
THE CRETAN SLINGER AT WAR - A WEIGHTY EXCHANGE
Amanda Kelly
The Annual of the British School at Athens
Vol. 107 (2012), pp. 273-311

It examines slinging as undertaken by the civic armies (as opposed to mercenaries) of Cretan city states in the late classical and Hellenistic periods. Just started reading it.
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Re: JUSTOR Article FYI
Reply #1 - Apr 11th, 2017 at 6:43am
 
sounds interesting.
Any chance of posting bits ?
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Re: JSTOR Article FYI
Reply #2 - Apr 11th, 2017 at 12:14pm
 
Yes. I'm probably not going to get to it this week. It's about 38 pages. I'll try and give a summary and some highlights.

The first part is discussing the Cretan landscape, both physical and political- bunch of small city-states. It then discusses the development of the importance of light troops. I just glanced at the first few pages. More later.

Todd
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Re: JSTOR Article FYI
Reply #3 - Apr 11th, 2017 at 2:19pm
 
Okay. I lied. I'm a liabedic. I have liabetes. I was able to read a little over lunch. Took some notes. See below. Long. I originally typed it in Word but all my formatting is gone. Sorry.

By Amanda Kelly, National University of Ireland, Galway., Annals of the British School at Athens, 107, 2012, pp. 273-311. The Council, British School at Athens.

“I hope in this paper to promote slingshots as artefacts loaded with research potential pertaining to a range of social issues. Slingshots bearing text are illuminating artefacts as not only can they reflect military action, leadership, civil affiliation and ethnicity, but they can also occasionally offer an insight into the psyche of their associated military personnel.”

- by the 4th century BC, Hellenistic warfare strategies, specifically relating to sieges, were “radically overhauled” with greater emphasis places on lighter armed troops, ie psiloi (slingers, archers and javelineers).

- light troops were lauded by Arrian (Ars Tactica 15) and acknowledged during the Persian Wars, when Gelon of Syracuse provided 2000 slingers and 2000 archers to the Greek envoys (Herodotus 7.158).

-Her focus is on civil armies, not mercenaries, pertaining to Cretan polies.

- The author postulates a lot of expansion pressures caused by 50-60 independent city states in Crete, followed by Roman settlements. She notes that lack of artefactual evidence for soldiering on the island striking in light of this evidence and the epigraphical evidence of warfare on the island.. Note: she spells the word “artefact" and “artefactual”. I have not change her spelling.

While not as famous as the Balearic or Rhodian slingers, the author states the Cretans were also quite adept with the sling although they were somewhat eclipsed in the historical record by the famous Cretan archers. (Yeah, I think I have go plan Rome Total War now.)

She cites several historical sources that refer to slingers along with the archers. The author references Josephus’ praise of the effectiveness of light infantry tactics against formed units during the Jewish Wars and that irregular tactics could unhinge highly trained and disciplined battalions. (Josephus, The Jewish War, 5.71-9).

-The use of light troops was also governed by terrain. Crete is very mountainous. The Cretan developed a preference for archers and slingers over cavalry and hoplites. (cited in Vertoudakis 2000, 27; Baldwin Clark 2004, 5-6; Morrow 1960). She notes Plato advised training young children in the use of the sling.

Distributions of Slingshot Discoveries on Crete
“Cretan slingshots have never been addressed as a group and only appear decontextualised in museum catalogues and sporadically in excavation reports. On Crete, inscribed lead sling bullets have been reported from Knossos, Gortyna, Lato (although issued by Gortyna), Aptera, Prinias Patela (possibly ancient Rhizenia- the slingshot was again issued by Gortyna), Rehtymnon (ancient Rhithymna), Khania (ancient Kydonia), Trypetos and Xerokambos (often identified as ancient Ambelos), while inscribed sling shot from the Cretan city of Phalasarna has also been discovered on the neighboring island of Anitkythera. This discovery of lead slingshots in the Cretan landscape is highly significant in view of the dearth of tangible Late Classical and Hellenistic weaponry throughout the archeological record of Crete.”

The sling has long been associated with Crete. The author mentions the story of the giant, Talos, who threw spherical objects. Lead shot makes an early appearance on the island. Sir Arthur Evan discovered “the potentially Cretan prototype” in an undisturbed context associated with the shrine of the Double Axes in the Palace at Knossos. Evans noted the they are “not of the same late fabric [although they are of lead] as the specimens that are not infrequently found on the site of the Greco-Roman city. (Evans 1928, 344). Unlike later examples, these early examples had a round mid-section and a prominent ridge resulting from their crude casting; but perhaps their most distinctive feature was that they were pared to a sharp point at the “action end”. (Evans 1928, 344).

“Another problematic slingshot context was recorded by Hutchinson in 1935 in a mixed Middle Minoan stratum at Knossos (Laura Preston and Don Evely, personal communication). The typology of this lead slingshot fits comfortably into a Late Classical or Hellenistic date range in terms of manufacture and emblem and I can only deduce that it is a later intrusion (fig 5.)”

Chronological Range for Slingshots
Notes sling shot was made from clay, stone and lead.
“The lithic variety was presumably used for hunting as early as the Early Neolothic, as attested on Malta (dating to the Grey Skorba Phas 4,500-4,100 B.C) (Turmp and Cilia 2002, 52). It’s application in early siege warfare is attested by the depiction of slingers on the silver siege rhyton from Mycenae (Korman 1986, 133, pl. 3; Vutriorpulos 1991, 284), while they also appear in a depiction of mixed troops in a combat scene on a Geometric vase from Paros fo c.700BC (Wheeler 2007, 194, fig. 71.)

Similarly, they proved effective in the siege of Lachish (c.700-691BC), as evidenced both in the relief friezes from the palace of Nimrud and from the vast quantity of spherical stone slingshots discovered during excavations (Fagan 2010, 93-5, fig. 8).”

The lead sling bullets utility is attested by its survival into the Roman era. During this era is shown by its inscribed content. The lead sling bullet variety is purportedly used as late as the close of the second century AD, according to the anonymous biographer of the Emperor Septimius Severus in his report on the battle in AD 197 with Clodius Albinus, near Lugdunum, when the emperor suffered a direct hit from a lead slingshot (ictu plumbeae) (Scriptores Historiea Augustae, Severus II.3).

Next up…Lead Slingshot Manufacture
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Re: JSTOR Article FYI
Reply #4 - Apr 15th, 2017 at 9:58pm
 
Lead Shot Manufacture

- Change from stone to lead allowed for smaller, but more dense. Shot typically 30-40g. Lawrence estimates 40g lead shot could be thrown 400m. The author does say academic suggested distances are in a lower range.

-Author discusses the tradeoff between the heavier stone shot (I've read the sling stones from Lachish were approx 380grams, although I've seen other numbers from 250g to 1lb) and the lighter lead shot. According to the author, lead shot gave greater distance but didn't have the same impact as the heavier stone projectiles. Sites historical sources that discuss the advantage of out-throwing the enemy in terms of distance. You can attack with impunity and can force a charge that is not in the best interest of the enemy. According to Xenophon, the lighter lead shot could be thrown twice the distance of the heavier stone shot. I think one would have to consider the effect of the greater density in the lead shot, particularly against unarmored flesh, when thinking about efficacy.

The issue of cast names came up in another post. There is some historical evidence that a sling glande had cast on it the name "Tissaphernes", the Lydian satrap 413-395.

The lead was cast in clay or stone molds, only a few of which have survived history. Apparently, there have been some recent excavations from Aptera where more molds have been found.

In the moulds, the cavities are connected by small channels so the end product is a tree of sling bullets. Nine missiles found in Cyprus, still have their connecting joints. A similar discovery was found in Eretria evidencing a cluster of shot connected together.

The author then says something strange: "Similarly..." and then goes on to describe the finding of 30-40 clay shot at Caerhun (Gwynedd) in Britain in the context of being fired during the Trajan/Flavian period. While the author doesn't say they were connected as on a tree like the lead shot, the word "similarly" suggests this. Perhaps it was easier to handle them this way. The author notes that biconical shot was greatly "favored" in Britain over lead shot. This appears to be based on the fact that clay shot is found in much greater quantities in the region as compared to lead shot. I'm not sure this is sufficient to say clay shot was favored but that's the author's call.

The author mentions that Caesar has smithies set up in his camp to cast lead bullets in preparation for a battle in Africa. There is mention in historical literature that at some point Caesar during the Civil War received reinforcements that included slingers from Sicily.

Next up: The Use of Text on Slingshots

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