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Indigenous Australian Slingers? (Read 3363 times)
IronGoober
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #15 - Apr 9th, 2021 at 9:46pm
 
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Hirtius
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #16 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 1:08am
 
Yeah, Iíve noticed links are prone to breaking on the forum because it makes them two lines. Theyíre toy bows from Arnhem land, which curiously would have been the region and time where the slinging photo was taken. No context on the tradition of bows, if any, from that culture.

And Iím not arguing for absence of evidence to be proof, Iím saying itís just unexplored. We actually have photos and some surviving artifacts (for bows), thereís just been little to no research into the context around them. Morphy, youíre speaking on a matter of if, when it is now more of why, how, and when. Most of the research that has defined our knowledge of aboriginal tools and weapons was done before anyone could have googled this picture, it might have been focused more in other regions, and the sling could have declined to fall under the radar by the time anyone would have cared.

Iíll admit, the photoís depiction of the sling is bigfoot quality. The sling itself can barely be distinguished, but you can look at the hand, and the notes give an explanation.

Tombelaine, I unfortunately donít have access to any Australian materials on this. Iíd love to get ahold of the book used in the blog (annoyingly not cited). Even if the word for sling was recorded, which it could easily get overlooked or confused with a slingshot, I still donít know what ethnic group it was that is in the photo. Even Australians would have trouble following many potential leads, as much of the information might be kept somewhere in Darwin.
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Mersa
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #17 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 1:25am
 
Itís an interesting find, and honestly Iíd love that itís true, that would make the sling present on all continents prior to European settlements.

It would be nice to go nd some other evidence to help with the context of the photos

As for bows, I donít have the references but I used to argue that bows were also not present, I was informed by a aboriginal friend of mine that itís not true , he was able to show me multiple photos, records of settlers encountered by tribes using bows and even an old book that was recalling an encounter with aborigines with bows.

These were only available to me through him because usually photos depicting aboriginal people is considered disrespectful to their beliefs. Itís possible that there are other photos that show slinging but they are the property of the peopleís descendants. I think more research is definitely warranted ,it could be possible to find information previously unknown.

But the references you supplied are the only accounts Iíve ever seen about slinging.
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #18 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 3:10am
 
Morphy wrote on Apr 9th, 2021 at 4:00am:
I would like to check the link out but its not working for me. Says page not found.

The link got split. You have to copy past the full text.

https://australian.museum/learn/cultures/atsi-collection/aboriginal-toys/toy-boo
merangs/

It's left out the "merangs/".

I've noticed that sometimes links end up being too long and the forum doesn't like it for some reason so chops them up.
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You are a great guy Kick but also slightly scary at times. - Morphy
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Morphy
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #19 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 10:44am
 
Thanks guys. Im a bit of a dope.

I looked at it. Sure looks like a bow to me. Possibly one of the worst ive ever seen but ya a bow. Ive seen worse from so called youtube experts but not much. Still really interesting.

And just to be clear...im not against the idea of Australian slinging at all. I love the idea. But need at least one precolonization sling. Australia is a very dry place. If it could last anywhere it should have a good chance there. Ill change my tune in a heartbeat once that one sling is found.
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Hirtius
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #20 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 3:30pm
 
The bows could be a crudely adapted idea, or they could just be so crude because they were meant for or built by kids. Thereís also that picture on the blog that may be Australian aboriginals, or it could just be Torres Strait islanders. To be fair, I think Torres Strait islanders and how they survived are also underrated, so even if that picture was of them it would still be meaningful. The blog says (sources not cited)  that bows would have only been in the Torres Strait and Cape York, so itís curious that the only bows collected are toys from Arnhem Land further West.

Mersa, thatís fascinating that you were able to confirm that! Do you have any more details on where they were used or any info about them? Aboriginal bows could probably be its own thread.

Back to slinging, we donít have precolonial evidence for slinging in much of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa does have a few photos and collected slings that survive until today, but no solid pre-colonial evidence. The two ancient slings from the Americas and a sling or two surviving from Egypt are quite unusual finds. Many areas of the world where slings were used, including the parts of Australia in which it was used, might not have the best conditions for preservation. Even then, a sling has to be placed in the right spot for it to get preserved. Written evidence can also confirm pre-contact slinging by discussing it in the first contact, but oftentimes written accounts might be hundreds of years later. For some areas the sling is never mentioned at all even if itís present, as it depends on whether the writer is impressed by it or dismissive of it.

Since slinging is very rarely the prestigious weapon, it is liable to get ignored even when that group that once used it looks back. For example, slings were used all over the Americas, but for many Native American groups it lost relevancy and remembrance during the first half of the 1900s. Itís unfortunately the nature of slings that we might have to speculate a bit to the best of the knowledge we have.

So Morphy, youíll probably have to remain in suspense. On my end, Iím limited to whatever the internet has on this. Even Australians would find it difficult to search archives or to take a very long trip up to Darwin to look for a needle in a haystack that may or may not even be there. There is a dim light at the end of this tunnel, in that the blog has taken pictures from an unknown book that has a picture and label of a sling among aboriginal weapons. I believe there is a direction in which this can be explored more, itís just a matter of where that next step might be.
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Morphy
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #21 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 7:09pm
 
For me I wouldnt even need a sling from each area. Even one in any part of Australia is enough to accept the strong possibility that it was used throughout the continent. So for example any sling evidence whether it be obvious glandes, lots of historical or cultural writing or spoken history or of course a sling itself is fine. You will see one of those three if not 2 or 3 in the vast majority of places with a significant history of it.

So if its in Egypt its not a stretch for me to believe that they existed in parts of sub-saharan Africa that has no evidence of it.

For example, in North America there is plenty of evidence of trade taking place between tribes. With obsidian or Osage being found hundreds if not a thousand miles outside of their natural range. So, if it exists somewhere on a contigous land mass its not a stretch at all to believe it existed everywhere at least at times.

Obviously some places it wouldve made more sense. What is the stone situation down there like? That may play a part as well. As would prey animals and other things.

Im in the process of researching for a book I will be writing on this subject. Basically how different cultures used different weapon and tool sets based on a wide variety of different factors and what we in the modern bush craft renaissance can learn from these choices.

Good questions. Always eager to hear what you have to bring to the table Hirtius as I am with everyone here.
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Mersa
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #22 - Apr 10th, 2021 at 8:55pm
 
Like I said itís a very good possibility that the people were moved to the Northern Territory. It was common back then for them to be moved out of their communities and treated wrongly.

I wish I could contact him again but he was a work colleague and I donít have any contact details for him. He was extremely passionate about his heritage and proud. From memory the accounts of settlers were along the north east , so very consistent with what you stated. The photos were all actually on Facebook and supplied buy an elder through personal message. It was a lunchtime conversation about my sling that evolved into a discussion about aboriginal technology. He was very eager to get the pictures for me to see.

During the discussion he said he has no knowledge of slings being used and neither did the elder.

I donít think the sling is so technical that it couldnít have been made crudely.  A strip of animal hide perhaps.

Every person Iíve ever encountered that may have insider knowledge on the subject seems to say itís a no or unknown.

Also a wommera serves many purposes and could be used to hurl stones.

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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #23 - Apr 11th, 2021 at 2:32pm
 
is there any likelyhood that polynesians ever visited australia ?
We know they had slings.

Can't think of any other reason they'd have them in australia.

The aboriginal culture was virtually unchanged for - possibly - tens of thousands of years.
Probably much longer, long enough for evidence of whatever predator the kangaroos evolved to leap away from to be erased.

Only the aborigenes could have wiped them out - whatever they were.
So they've been there a very long time.
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #24 - Apr 12th, 2021 at 11:21am
 
Hirtius wrote on Apr 8th, 2021 at 12:24am:
Maybe Iím out of the loop, but were the British still using slings at this point? Probably not. When the British were going to all these islands, the sling was probably something relatively foreign. When they remarked about slingers, it was usually how effective they were. They knew the concept of the sling from the Bible, but had probably not ever seen its use, especially by anyone that good, in action. It doesnít add up. If youíre arguing that they facilitated the adoption via contact to other islanders, I donít think anyone could know. Thereís barely a record as is.

That's an unfounded assumption. As it happens, I have met a couple of older folk from England who have told me anecdotes of slinging as a boy, and one told a story about their father, who talked to a group of boys that did regularly slinging at the docks (late 19th early 20thc?)
In some parts of England it wasn't that uncommon, for example in the north east it was apparently a tradition kept alive since the Roman occupation where they were employed as slingers (and legend says hit targets the size of quarter barrel at 200y).
Some rural folk also still used the sling to scare birds off fruit trees or crops, but also as a toy. It certainly was not 'forgotten' in certain regions, and no doubt some were very good. It's also very likely the further you go back, the more prevalent it was (especially before industrialisation). I think it's very plausible that a colonist could have brought the idea over. A simple and powerful weapon that can be made from grass is certainly going to appeal to folk who live by basic technologies made from nature.
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« Last Edit: Apr 12th, 2021 at 10:45pm by Archaic Arms »  

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Mersa
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Re: Indigenous Australian Slingers?
Reply #25 - Apr 12th, 2021 at 7:36pm
 
My point exactly Albion. Thereís to much to consider with too little evidence, as much as I wish it were true at this stage I think the juryís out
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