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Slings were a common weapon in history. Cheap to construct and with ammo plentiful, they were very cost effective to field in great numbers.

What I want to know is if there is any historical evidence for slings being used in melee. (with a rock wedged in the cup and used like a flail or sap.)

Note that I'm not asking if there is evidence of them being effective in melee combat, merely if they were used as such. (Obviously, a knife or short sword would likely be better)

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Diodorus Siculus' chronicle of the Battle of Eknomos in 311BC:

"But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing number were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Balearic Islands and numbered at least a thousand. By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina, contributed a great deal toward victory in battle, as they practised constantly with the sling since childhood. In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them. Their equipment for fighting consists of three slings, and of these they keep one around the head, another around the belly, and the third in the hands. In the business of war they hurl much larger stones than do any other slingers, and with such force that the missile seems to have been shot, as it were, from a catapult; consequently, in their assaults upon walled cities, they strike the defenders on the battlements and disable them, and in pitched battles they crush both shields and helmets and every kind of protective armour. And they are so accurate in their aim that in the majority of cases they never miss the target before them. The reason for this is the continual practice which they get from childhood, in that their mothers compel them, while still young boys, to use the sling continually; for there is set up before them as a target a piece of bread fastened to a stake, and the novice is not permitted to eat until he has hit the bread, whereupon he takes it from his mother with her permission and devours it!!".

  • Nice reference, but it does not appear to answer the question. Can you highlight the relevant passage? – Danny Reagan Nov 16 '14 at 16:49
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    I asked specifically if they were used as melee weapons. I am well aware of their use in warfare as ranged weapons. – Danny Reagan Nov 16 '14 at 17:10
  • @DannyReagan Sorry English is my third language. My mistake. I doubt you'll find any references on that though, even a poor slinger could probably afford a knife and would generally run away. – Jeroen K Nov 16 '14 at 17:19
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    Have you heard of David versus Goliath? – Jeroen K Nov 16 '14 at 17:40
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    I have heard of David and Goliath. Unfortunately, it provides no clarity on alternative uses of slings as David uses it as intended. – Danny Reagan Nov 16 '14 at 17:42

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