Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a rare lead sling bullet that possibly belonged to a Greek soldier and bears a magic inscription for victory.
The tiny projectile was discovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Yavne and is believed to be from the Hellenistic period.
One theory being probed is that it was used some 2,200 years ago by a Greek soldier against the Hasmoneans, who who ruled Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity.
It bears the inscription “Victory of Heracles and Hauronas” in Greek, apparently to ensure victory in battle.
Slings were a popular weapon in antiquity and could travel in excess of 400 metres (1,312 feet), making them even superior to a regular bow and arrow, according to ancient writers.
Professor Yulia Ustinova of Ben Gurion University of the Negev said in a statement obtained from the IAA: “The pair of gods Hauron and Heracles were considered the divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period.
“Actually, the inscription on a sling bullet is the first archaeological evidence of the two guardians of Yavne, discovered inside Yavne itself. Until today, the pair was only known from an inscription on the Greek island of Delos.
“The announcement of the future victory of Heracles and Hauron was not a call addressed to the deity, but a threat directed towards the adversaries.
“Lead sling bullets are known in the ancient world beginning in the 5th century BCE, but in Israel few individual sling bullets were found with inscriptions.
“The inscriptions convey a message of unifying the warriors with the aim of raising their spirits, scaring the enemy, or a call intended to magically energise the sling bullet itself.
“These inscriptions were part of psychological warfare, the main purpose of which is to terrorise the opponent, and in addition, to unite the warriors and raise their spirits.”
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