2,200-year-old Greek sling bullet discovered in Israel

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The inscriptions were part of psychological warfare… to terrorize the opponent and unite the warriors'

A 2,200-year-old lead sling bullet was recently discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the central Israeli city of Yavne, bearing a magic inscription for victory and which possibly belonged to a Greek soldier.

On the bullet is the Greek inscription “Victory of Heracles and Hauronas” – a pair of gods that were considered to be the “divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period,” according to Prof. Yulia Ustinova from southern Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

"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 professor added.The bullet was uncovered in excavations conducted by the IAA in Yavne as part of the Israel Lands Authority's initiative to expand the city, in cooperation with the Yavne Municipality. It is 4.4 centimeters long and was intended to be used in an early sling.

The word "Victory" on the sling bullet.Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities AuthorityThe word "Victory" on the sling bullet.'The inscriptions were part of psychological warfare... to terrorize the opponent and unite the warriors'A 2,200-year-old lead sling bullet was recently discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the central Israeli city of Yavne, bearing a magic inscription for victory and which possibly belonged to a Greek soldier.

On the bullet is the Greek inscription “Victory of Heracles and Hauronas” – a pair of gods that were considered to be the “divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period,” according to Prof. Yulia Ustinova from southern Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

The names of the gods Heracles and Hauronas on the reverse side of the sling bullet.

"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 professor added.The bullet was uncovered in excavations conducted by the IAA in Yavne as part of the Israel Lands Authority's initiative to expand the city, in cooperation with the Yavne Municipality.

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Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities AuthorityArchaeological excavations in Yavne, Israel.

It is 4.4 centimeters long and was intended to be used in an early sling.

As a couple, the gods Heracles and Hauron were a perfect team of victory-givers.

שמות האלים הרקלס והאורונאס באחד מצדי של הקליע. צילום דפנה גזית רשות העתיקות.5 640x400 1
Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities AuthorityThe names of the gods Heracles and Hauronas on the reverse side of the sling bullet

“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 energize the sling bullet itself,” noted Ustinova, who deciphered the inscription.

“They were part of psychological warfare, the main purpose of which was to terrorize the opponent, and in addition, to unite the warriors and raise their spirits.

”The Yavne “mega” excavation was one of the largest conducted by the IAA and has yielded fascinating discoveries that testify to a rich and varied history of 7,000 years.

"One can only imagine what that warrior who held the sling bullet 2,200 years ago thought and felt, as he held on to the hope of divine salvation," said IAA Director Eli Escusido.

The story of the bullet will be presented at the ‘Yavne and its Secrets’ lecture next week in Yavne.