Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Ancient slingers added insult to injury, researcher says

by Staff Writers
Athens (AFP) April 13, 2011
Centuries before Allied bomber crews would send gleefully personalised ordnance to Adolf Hitler, ancient skirmishers mastered the art of enemy taunts by slingshot, according to a researcher.

Sling bullets recovered from the battlefields of Egypt, Greece and Rome often carry inscriptions designed to add insult to injury, archaeologist Amanda Kelly told an Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies lecture.

Slingers, also known as sphendonetai, have been used in warfare through antiquity, from the Persian Wars and the endless fighting between Greek city states to Alexander the Great's campaigns and the Roman conquest of Britain.

Julius Caesar noted in a treatise that they were particularly useful against war elephants despite being a low-class division of light infantry, said Kelly, a classics professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

"There is very little you can use against an elephant," she said.

Some bullets were marked with personalised images any soldier could recognise such as bovine heads. Others were more elaborate, bearing the names of army generals, cities or the blacksmiths who cast them in lead.

And quite often, the missiles packed a verbal as well as a physical punch.

"Perhaps the most unexpected element is the humour involved," Kelly said.

She cited examples of Athenian sling bullets that read "Take that" or Cypriot versions saying "This is yours." More advanced taunts speak of male genitalia, impregnation and other sexual references.

Shot from the island of Corfu bore an inscription asking that they "be lodged well" in their intended targets while Thracian bullets promised "pain".

"The taunt is a weapon as damaging as the blow...and these bullets could penetrate armour," Kelly said.

Some researchers have reasoned that an ancient bullet weighing 40 grammes could fly at 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour to a distance of 400 metres, she said.

Aside from boosting morale and dampening enemy spirits, inscribed bullets indicated the literacy of an army and that of its opponents as there was little point in employing the weapon unless both sides understood its meaning.

It was a device so popular that it is still in use centuries later, from World War II to the Korean War and US operations in Afghanistan, Kelly noted, pointing to an image from USS aircraft carrier Enterprise taken a decade ago.

"High Jack (sic) this fags", reads a message to insurgents chalked onto a bomb loaded onto an American fighter jet.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
The latest in Military Technology for the 21st century at

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Gallium Nitride-Based Modules Set New 180-Day Standard For High Power Operation
Linthicum, MD (SPX) Apr 13, 2011
Northrop Grumman has set a new standard for its gallium nitride-based high power transmit/receive (T/R) modules by reliably operating them for more than 180 days during continuous high-power testing. In a rigorous evaluation conducted by the company's Advanced Concepts and Technology Division, the T/R modules were tested by using high-stressing operational long-pulse waveforms, which opera ... read more

Lockheed Martin Awarded $43.3 Million Contract For Concept Definition Of Standard Missile-3 Block IIB

Israel's missile shield makes history

Israeli system intercepts Gaza rocket for first time

Netanyahu praises Israeli system intercepting Gaza rocket

US helps eliminate Ukraine's Scud missile stockpile

Raytheon Awarded $42 Million For Next-Generation Standard Missile-3 Interceptor

SLAMRAAM Intercepts Targets In Two Test Firings

Taiwan inaugurates missile ships amid buildup vow

US drones kill six militants in Pakistan: officials

Northrop Grumman Fire Scout Hits New Single-Day Endurance Flight Record

Northrop Grumman Ships First Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Fuselage

Drone 'friendly fire' kills two US troops: officials

Preparations Underway As US Army Gears Up For Large-Scale Network Evaluations

Global Military Communications Market In 2010

Raytheon BBN Technologies To Protect Internet Comms For Military Abroad

Gilat Announces New Military Modem For Robust Tactical Satcom-On-The-Move

Ancient slingers added insult to injury, researcher says

Gallium Nitride-Based Modules Set New 180-Day Standard For High Power Operation

PEO Ammo Picks Up 155mm Lightweight Howitzer Program

Australian women destined for frontline combat

Gates warns of fallout from big US defense cuts

Brazil arms show offers partnership areas

South America, Africa spend more on arms

Australian military embroiled in gay-hate claims

Armenia agrees longterm Russian army presence

World's major emerging powers meet in China

Gulf states want Baghdad summit scrapped: Bahrain FM

World's major emerging powers to meet in China

US Navy And Northrop Grumman Accomplish Goals For At-Sea Demonstration Of Maritime Laser

Scientists Build World's First Anti-Laser

Yale scientists build 'anti-laser'

'Air laser' could find bombs at a distance

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement