Greek slingshot with bee and ΚΑΛΑ


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ITEMSlingshot with bee and ΚΑΛΑ
PERIOD4th Century B.C
DIMENSIONS16 mm x 32 mm
CONDITIONGood condition
PROVENANCEEx English private collection, acquired between 1980 – 1990
PARALLEL MANOV, M. & TORBOV, N., Inscribed Lead Sling Bullets with the Name of Alexander the Great and with Other Names and Symbols Found in Thrace, Archaeologia Bulgarica XX, 2 (2016), 29-43, P.38, Fig. 23

Sling, implement for propelling missiles, one of the first missile weapons used in warfare. It consisted of a small strap or socket of leather to which two cords were attached. The warrior, or slinger, held the ends of the cords in one hand, placed the missile snugly in the strap, and whirled the socket and missile rapidly around his head; by letting go of one cord at the right moment, the slinger could let the missile fly out of the socket at a high speed.

In the Roman army of the time of the Punic Wars (3rd–2nd century BC), the slingers were auxiliaries from Greece, Syria, and Africa. The Balearic islanders who constituted a part of Hannibal’s Carthaginian army fighting the Romans were renowned as slingers.

On these sling bullet ΚΑΛΑ can both be a name – Kalas, probably a military commander, so can not be a name, but a word neuter plural – καλά, which should be translated as “nice things.” Of course, the irony here would be obvious. These “nice things” are designed to destroy enemies and to sting like a bee or scorpion, and the message of those with the image of a scorpion can be understood as: “nice things sting like a scorpion.” In fact, such is the meaning and of the image of a scorpion presented on other sling bullets here.