Greek slingshot with Bee and ‘KALLA’

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ITEMSlingshot with Bee and inscription ‘KALLA’
PERIOD4th Century B.C
DIMENSIONS31 mm x 15 mm
CONDITIONGood condition
BIBLIOGRAPHYMANOV, M. and TORBOV, M, Inscribed lead sling bullets, p. 35, Fig. 23
LOCATIONBeekeeping Museum Mellinde, Maartensdijk (Netherlands)

Slings, or slingshots, played a notable role in ancient Greek warfare and hunting. These simple yet versatile projectile weapons consisted of a pouch or cradle made from leather or fabric at the end of two cords of equal length. The user would place a projectile, into the pouch and then swing it around in a circular motion. By releasing one of the cords at the right moment, the user could propel the projectile with significant force and accuracy.

Greek slings were widely used by both infantry and skirmishers in ancient battles. Skilled sling users, known as “slingers” or “sling warriors,” could achieve remarkable accuracy and deliver lethal blows from a distance. The effectiveness of slings in ancient Greek warfare is evident in historical accounts, such as during the famous Battle of Thermopylae, where slingers played a crucial role in the Greek forces.

Outside of military applications, slings were also used for hunting and personal defense. Hunters would employ slings to target small game, showcasing the versatility of these weapons in various contexts. The simplicity of the design and the accessibility of materials made slings a practical and widely adopted tool in ancient Greek society, reflecting the ingenuity of ancient weaponry.

This sling have the image of a bee on one side and with an inscription ΚΑΛΑ on the other, which may be a name. Well known are other similar lead sling bullets – practically with alternating symbols – bee and scorpion, as on them invariably is written ΚΑΛΑ, which is believed to originate from the island of Rhodes. On these sling bullets 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.”