Ancient sling bullet. (Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority) Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority
Ancient sling bullet

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The length of the sling bullet is 4.4 cm, and it was intended to be used in an early sling.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Ahead of the Chanukah holiday celebrating the miraculous victory of the Jews over the Greeks, the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a sling bullet with a Greek inscription.

The 2,200-year-old sling bullet made of lead — which bears the inscription, “Victory of Heracles and Hauronas” — was uncovered in excavations in the coastal city of Yavne. The excavation is being done ahead of plans to expand the city.

The length of the sling bullet is 4.4 cm, and it was intended to be used in an early sling.

“The pair of gods Hauron and Heracles were considered the divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period,” said Prof. Yulia Ustinova from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, who deciphered the inscription.

“These inscriptions were part of psychological warfare, the main purpose of which is to terrorize the opponent, and in addition, to unite the warriors and raise their spirits,” Prof. Ustinova explained.

“Actually, the inscription on a sling bullet is the first archaeological evidence of the two guardians of Yavne, discovered inside Yavne itself,” she added.

Pablo Betzer and Dr. Daniel Varga, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority stressed that it is impossible to know for certain if the bullet was used against the Hasmoneans, a priestly family also known as the Maccabees.

“It is not impossible that it is related to the conflict between the Greeks and the Hasmoneans,” they said.

“In the 2nd century BCE, pagan Yavne — which was an ally of the Seleucids, the Greeks who ruled the land of Israel — were subject to attacks by the Hasmonean armies . . . The tiny lead sling bullets, announcing the imminent victory of the gods of pagan Yavne, is tangible evidence of a fierce battle that took place in Yavne at that time.”

The Chanukah holiday begins on the night of December 18.

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