THE SLING

                                              

The sling, originally, was a weapon that was used for hunting animals and for war. Among other ancient weapons, it is one of those that combine precision and destructive power, effective against people - naked or protected with armor -, works, and ships. In the old age, the Iberians used the sling and, above all, the Balearics were feared for their precision. Many of these slingers were incorporated as mercenaries in the Carthaginian and Roman armies.

It was a weapon despised by knights; as it was cheap and let one kill from afar. These facts made the sling little honorable in their eyes, and only people of simple condition used it. In villages of shepherds it has been an almost universal tool, and today they still use it in different parts of the world to collect the elusive cattle.

It has been, and still is, a toy among children all over the world, especially in rural environments. The game par excellence is to frighten the birds that want to eat the grain, a pragmatic combination of work and leisure.

Over time, the slingshot has lost its primitive functions. Other athletic modalities such as javelin, archery, or various forms of fighting keep their spirit alive in the form of a sports discipline. At the moment, only in the Balearic Islands this sporting spirit with the sling is maintained, since they have a federation and a regulated competition for this practice. One of the most obvious cultural characteristics of the sling is the different names we can use when we refer to it: fona, bassetja, mandró... All of them are synonymous, equally valid. 

The first Neolithic settlements appear in the Near East and one of the most important areas in the phase of the Neolithic Plenum, with the widespread use of ceramics, is Anatolia (now Turkey). The town of Catal Hüyük is a well-studied site, corresponding to a village of farmers and shepherds there around the seventh millennium before Christ.

Inside of many of these houses have been found spectacular mural paintings, the oldest ones representing animals, people, geometric drawings, etc. In one of these murals appears, between two large vultures, the figure of a slinger, as seen in the fragment represented. It is the first known artistic figuration of a man turning the sling. The irregular and imprecise line is due to the small size of the figure, lost in the whole mural.

One of the oldest written quotations about the sling is found in a poem by Homer, the Iliad, written in the s. IX BC:

... "they had gone to Troy, relying on their bows and their slings of twisted sheep's wool, and often pulling the phalanges of Teucras." Iliad; rhapsody thirteenth "Battle devours of the ships".

Another of the oldest texts in which the sling is mentioned is the Bible, the first book of Samuel, written during the s. VIII BC, where appears the famous passage of the shepherd David and the giant filisteo Goliat:

... " Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.". 1 Samuel 17, 40

... " Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. Samuel 17, 49

 

In the reliefs that decorated the ancient Mesopotamian palaces of the second and the first millennium BC, we find the first graphic testimonies of the use of the sling by these people. Let's see two examples:

In Nineveh, in the palace of Senanquerib (669-629 BC), in a relief that represents the conquest of the Canaanite city of Lakis, a Canaanite slinger appears defending the city, with a sling, from the top of a tower. Let us not forget the territory of Canaan, inhabited by the Jews, the Phoenicians and the Palestinians, peoples with slinger tradition maintained until the present time.

The second would be a tombstone of the palace of Assurbanipal (669-631 BC), also in Nineveh, where Assyrian soldiers are depicted, some of them pulling with a sling.

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