For Young Archaeologists -- By: Suzanne Rogers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 14:3 (Summer 2001)
Article: For Young Archaeologists
Author: Suzanne Rogers


For Young Archaeologists

Suzanne Rogers

Today soldiers use guns, tanks, missiles, and airplanes. What did King David use when his armies went to war? Mostly rocks. That’s right, rocks kept in a little pouch made of wool or leather. It was a far cry from the advanced weapons we have now. While David was a shepherd boy, he killed Goliath with a smooth stone from the brook (1 Sm 17:40). Later his soldiers used stones, too. These slingstones were especially shaped for war.

Slingstones from ABR’s excavation at

Slingstones were made out of a hard rock called flint. When the flint was broken, the ancient Israelites could sharpen knives and other cutting tools from the flint, but when it was a whole piece, it could be chipped down into a round stone ball. Soldiers would try to make all the balls the same size (about the size of a billiard ball) so they would all go about the same distance.

To sling the stone, slingers used a little square piece of woven wool or leather with two leather straps attached to each end of the square. Then they took one of the strings and tied it to their fingers and grabbed the other string between their thumb and index finger. They would let the square hang, and it would make a little pouch to put the slingstone in. Next they would swing the slingstone underhand by the strings, like a softball pitcher. They didn’t have to swing it around many times; once or twice was enough. Finally when it came around to the bottom, they let go of the string, and the slingstone went flying!

Biblical slingers were excellent at hitting their targets, almost as good as the archers. Judges 20:16 says there were seven hundred left-handed men chosen, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. Can you imagine aiming for a hair on top of your friend’s head over a distance of at least two football fields! Even today there are young boys who are very accurate with slings. Ancient soldiers could make their sling stone go as fast as an archer’s arrow, up to 60 miles per hour. That’s how fast your car goes on the highway!

Slingstones were a very valuable weapon for the Israelite armies, and they were not the only army to use slingstones. The Romans decided that flint sling stones were not good enough. So they made better ones. Wanting something stronger than flint, they made theirs out of metal. If you have ever made Jello jigglers, that is kind of the way the Romans made their slingstones. They took a mold that was shaped in little ovals with points on the ends and poured lead into it. The little slingstones were only 2 inch...

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