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J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare (Read 14370 times)
Thearos
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #15 - May 22nd, 2010 at 9:24am
 
On archaeologists vs. looters, a shoutout to one of my favorite sites:

http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/
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David Morningstar
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #16 - May 22nd, 2010 at 9:36am
 
Thearos: for leather add all of pre-Columbian North America...

http://anthro.amnh.org/anthropology/databases/common/public_access.cfm?database=...
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #17 - May 22nd, 2010 at 10:46am
 
Good point. Plains Indians, leather societies ?

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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #18 - May 23rd, 2010 at 6:39am
 
yep - so rope making and braiding is basic everyday activity.

so is sling making.

whether or not the sling is braided or leather - there would have been simple quick slings for everyday use and more complicated ones for 'sunday best'.

And the vast majority of those discovered are for 'sunday best'.

Also given the natural materials used - very few of the everyday slings would survive to be found. Odd sare they'd just have been discarded when broken and a new one swiftly knocked up.

I'm not disputing that most slings would have had a braided component.
just the assertion that ALL slings were items people invested lots of time and effort making and were thus valuable commodities.
That's just daft.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #19 - May 23rd, 2010 at 7:09am
 
An initial point: which "discovered" slings are you talking about ? Can we have a list of slings discovered in archaeological contexts ? A lot of slings are from ethnographical contexts-- collected by travellers. Were these 'special" slings, or everyday slings ?

I recently read Cahlander, Braided slings of the Andes. The thing that emerges clearest is "serious about slinging, serious about slings"-- if you use slings every day, for work, you take trouble; and if you take trouble, the thing that comes out is complex, and has the beauty of hand made everyday objects. Difficult to imagine in our industrial societies, I suppose.

But even a "working sling" has to be braided tight, braided right, woven skillfully, have the right length, size of pouch, zippiness or heaviness of cords. These are not simple things.

Before i read this site, I made, as a teenager, 5-6 slings. They were made of offcuts of cloth, craft shop leather bits; they were horrible, short, and fell to bits. .

Since reading this site, I've made about 15 slings. The first ones were horrible and unusable. But I kept reading, and braiding, and i understood such issues as length (daring to go much longer than I first thought), solid pouch vs split, etc. The end results are still horrible, but I understand that it's a complex process.

Conclusion: to knock up a sling is certainly possible. Even to make a simple sling that's good requires specifications. Societies where the sling plays an important role probably made very nice slings indeed. Andes, we know; Celtic hillforts, pretty likely
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #20 - May 23rd, 2010 at 9:01am
 
Aussie wrote on May 22nd, 2010 at 1:19am:
Not quite sure how the "drag has little effect on velocity" conclusion is arrived at.

Finney is going at the problem which is in a sense 'backwards' from our point of view.

He wanted to model the trajectory of a stone, he has drawn these onto various hill fort profiles, but he needed to justify using parabolic curves appropriate to negligible air resistance, presumably for simplicity.

He did some calculations (the Reynolds Number mentioned above) and decided that was sufficient to allow him to neglect air resistance. It wasn't, even if the value had been calculated correctly.

The velocities, launch angles, etc. are all inferred on the assumption of no air resistance from just distance and flight time. Since he was not that experienced, there is huge spread in his experimental results. The highest velocity he reported was inferred for a throw at an angle of 18 degrees from the horizontal!

Doubtless there is a systematic error in his results due to neglecting air resistance, but since there is so much scatter in his raw data it may not be that obvious.

However, he is modeling on assumptions which I abandoned myself when I was in the early stages of slinging, realizing that air resistance was evidently important. The stones he uses are mostly rather heavier than the ones I used, so air resistance would have been less important for him, it's very difficult to say how much.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #21 - May 23rd, 2010 at 11:39am
 
before finding tis site I too made several slings.

each one lasted many years. They were just made from cord and leather.
The first couple used solid leather 'cord' so were just leather. Very simple very primitive - very effective. I never had any problems slinging long distances right from day one.
And I still have the original pouches - just with different cords. and that's about 25 years on.

Just because some historian has not documented something does not mean that common sense can be totally dispensed with (although that frequently seems to be the case).

If simple effective slings can be made today with nothing other than a knife, animal skin and vegetable based cordage - then they most certainly could be made thousands of years ago with the same tools.


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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #22 - May 23rd, 2010 at 12:04pm
 
You still need evidence;  in absence of evidence, parallels and analogies (that's what ethno-archaeology is for). I still hold that even making a 'simple' sling takes care, and skills-- and that's common sense, as well as my own experience. But generally,if common sense just means "what I feel", it can't be worth much.

Reading Cahlander, I see a slinging culture where people are serious about slinging-- and braid beautiful slings, even for 'daily' use: men braid all the time (in downtime from work, or walking to festivals), are reluctant to teach the complex weaves to outsiders (and women), and wear slings-- e.g. around their head, like the Balearic slingers. These are not ritual , "dancing" slings, which are much more complex obbjects, but daily use slings: complex 4 or 16 strand braids with patterns.

Or i look at the videos of modern menorcan sling braiders using esparto grass. I'm sure an Andean villager or an ancient Balearic islander could knock up a sling if needed-- but hold that well made, complex objects are the rule.

The slings of the Palestinian shebabs are rough and ready, but they are made in a particular context (the post 1968 Palestinian refugee society, no longer quite a traditional agricultural and pastoral society) to fight and discard in riots against Israeli border police; and even so, the dimensions of cord and pouch show some thought and care, judging from photographs.

So I would maintain (until I see evidence to the contrary, not "common sense" statements) that:
1. "serious about slinging, serious about slings" is a good rule of thumb for slinging societies
2. the Celtic hillforts, with their heavy emphasis on the sling, might well have been Andean-style sling braiders.


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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #23 - May 23rd, 2010 at 12:16pm
 
Curious Aardvark wrote on May 20th, 2010 at 11:01am:
But when will these researchers contact experienced slingers - or even do some basic research on sling usage and techniques.
To be fair to him, this work was submitted January 2005 (bet he had a busy Christmas Smiley), and things were very different then. He's hardly likely to have run into a bunch of slingers on the beach, and this forum started up late 2003 I believe.
Quote:
Quote:
...to high, albeit traditional, specifications


That part is pure nonsense.
Basic cord and leather offcuts will give you a very effective sling in a matter of minutes.
Just because he's decided on a complex woven sling means nothing. Again some basic research would have shown this.

The prose might be a little purple, but it's a PhD thesis!  Grin Again, before this site 'basic research' on the sling would have found very little. It didn't then mean sitting clicking mouse buttons on a computer connected to the internet and consulting Wikipedia articles, it was a lot harder.

A working sling may well be easily knocked up out of scraps, but it seems such slings were not considered adequate in many societies. There is far more than pure pragmatism involved, it was a greatly valued tool, and such things naturally attract a respect and care in their manufacture.

He chose to use a Bolivian sling, a working sling, not an ornamental one, which has at the very least a long day's work involved in it's manufacture.

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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #24 - May 23rd, 2010 at 1:54pm
 
Curious Aardvark wrote on May 23rd, 2010 at 11:39am:
If simple effective slings can be made today with nothing other than a knife, animal skin and vegetable based cordage - then they most certainly could be made thousands of years ago with the same tools.


As is demonstrated in countless ancient and modern examples, the animal skin is not required. Why use animal skin when you can form the pouch with the same material you are using for the cords?

I suspect from their point of view, your 'obvious' combination of a leather pouch and cordage might be considered unnatural.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #25 - May 23rd, 2010 at 2:49pm
 
Agreed. Skin, especially treated and tanned (leather), is usually not the "easiest" or "cheapest" material to aquire.

I cannot say much about a greater efficiency of one pouch type or the other. I use them both with variable results. Wink

In many traditional societies most everyday items are not only "practical" in a secular meaning as we use most things around us today. They usually also had to show certain social, tribal or religious connections. A sling with a certain (coloured, woven) pattern can "mean" a lot more than an undecorated piece of hide with strings. It can indicate the owner's status, the people/tribe he belongs to, his interaction with others, the "magic" that he put into slingmaking. And his pride, of course. All this can be expressed a lot better in weaving or netting than in plain (unpainted) leather.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #26 - May 23rd, 2010 at 6:48pm
 
Curious Aardvark wrote on May 20th, 2010 at 11:01am:
Again it depends entirely on the slinger.
Underhand can be a very effective slinging style. I've seen some slingers who could probably push 150 yards with a good underhand throw.

But when will these researchers contact experienced slingers - or even do some basic research on sling usage and techniques.

Quote:
The sling is a complex piece of textile technology and as such, can be remarkably difficult to produce...The sling is a not a simple weapon. an artefact that allows stone to be caset over distances exceeding 80 m, at speeds in excess of 100 kmph has to be manifactured to high, albeit traditional, specifications


That part is pure nonsense.
Basic cord and leather offcuts will give you a very effective sling in a matter of minutes.
Just because he's decided on a complex woven sling means nothing. Again some basic research would have shown this.



My how heated this discussion has become, and all over a few little words, albeit provocative ones. We've now started arguing about the relative merits of braided v. leather pouched slings, the degree of difficulty in manufacture, status in society and all sorts of stuff which really is beside the point.

What does Finney's statement actually say? I've underlined the contentious point so we can zero in on it. He maintains the sling is not a simple weapon and backs this by say that an "artefact" (just why he calls it an artefact is not clear) that can cast a stone over 80m at 100kph. has to be made to high specs. (again just what high specs means is not defined). Now that particular statement is questionable at best. A really good thrower can probably achieve that by hand with no sling at all. Certainly the simplest, most basic of slings will help any average slinger surpass those results, certainly the 100k/h figure which is only 28m/s.

Sure, in societies where slings are valued they may be beautifully crafted works of art as well as functional tools. But they don't have to be to work any more than the superb engraving on shotguns helps them to shoot better. I am sure Finney didn't intend his statement to be subjected to so high a degree of analysis but let's keep the distinction between functionality and beauty.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #27 - May 23rd, 2010 at 7:32pm
 
Fair enough. Discussion doesn't seem very heated to me, to be honest. Artefact doesn't bother me: in the sense of an object made by man as the result of technological purpose.

Yes, no doubt you're right that a working sling can be made easily enough (and there are patterns here on this website: an offcut of leather, cords wrapped around a pencil, in the Timothy Potter model, which avoids holes and stretch; etc). C-A is right, and Finney's sentence is overstated.

However, I disagree with C-A that "since it's easy to make a basic sling, most societies must have made basic slings". On the contrary, the question is "since it's easy to make a basic sling, why do slinging cultures go for complex woven ones ?".

In addition, wanderer and Fundi. make good point that it may be easy to knock up a sling with paracord or shoelaces and an offcut of leather nowadays, but not necessarily in the conditions of a pre-industrial society: you might have to braid your cord (so might as well braid your pouch-- which takes us into complex artefact territory), and tanned leather not necessarily easy to come by. ANd that takes us not very far from Finney's initial statement.

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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #28 - May 24th, 2010 at 1:00am
 
Yes, I think it's an easy trap to fall into to evaluate things through our affluent modern eyes where we have a superabundance of material possessions. No doubt in a society where people own very little of anything even a simple sling is a major possession. This I think, is the key to why they would make very elaborate slings when simple ones would function just as well. The shepherding society's equivalent to going into debt to buy a Mercedes Benz when a Kia would do just as well.
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Re: J. B. Finney, Middle Iron Age Warfare
Reply #29 - May 24th, 2010 at 5:48am
 
Yes, what I meant, though, is a bit more than aesthetics ("beauty"). It has something to do with the "significance" of items which is expressed in their appearance. We are used to think in terms of practicability when we see old artefacts, and a lot of them are admirable in that. But they are seldom "only" practical. Usually, their shape, colour, material... means (or intends to to conjure up) something more. Matter was much more than just "dead" matter before the age of industrialization.

Cars are a very good example of an area where this significance still plays an important role today. Or take the desire for certain brands in clothes, shoes, even weapons...

I'm not sure, but if I remember correctly some of the "simple" medieval leather slings from Northern Europe were found in siege contexts, and at least one of them was obviously improvised from old shoe leather. This, on the one hand, fits into the "expensive leather, don't waste" assumption, but it may also be an indication that "practicability only" was only applied in emergency situations when slings had to be produced very quickly.
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Ferrugo numquam dormit.&&(Nigellus Iuvenis)&&&&

Noch weiz ich an im mere daz mir ist bekant
einen lintrachen  slouch des heledes hant
do badet er in dem blvote  des ist der helt gemeit
von also vester hvte  daz in nie wafen sit versneit.
 
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