Friday, May 6, 2011

Sling Bullets Sometimes Bore Insults

Slingshot bullets recovered from the battlefields of Egypt, Greece and Rome often carried inscriptions designed to add insult to injury, according to archaeologist Amanda Kelly, a classics professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Slings ~ also known as sphendonetai ~ have been used in warfare 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 said they were particularly useful against war elephants despite being a low-class division of light infantry, said Kelly.

According to
Some bullets were marked with personalized 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 humor 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.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hehe yes I remember hearing this in a few Greek and Roman classes. Saw a picture of one that was supposedly aimed at Cornelia's (Mark Antony's wife) butt, with a pretty crude picture on it!