• latw-215-1
    Sling bullet of Tissaphernes. (Photograph by Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr.)

Sling bullet of Tissaphernes

Date
401-395 BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Museum
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 8225
Inventory No.
8225
Material
Lead
Object Type
Metalwork
Metalwork Type
Weapon or Armor
Site
Şahankaya?
Description
Lead, of almond shape. On the longitudinal center of one side, a text of eight legible raised letters in Greek gives ΤΙCCΑΦΕΡ.Ε... Length 36 mm, weight 40.423 g.
Comments
“The last letters (of the text) are illegible, but presumably contained the genitive ending of the name Tissaphernes” (Foss 1975, 28). Tissaphernes was satrap of Lydia from 413 to 395 BC. An implacable enemy of the Greeks, he is the “villain you love to hate” in Greek narratives of the Peloponnesian War and of Persian Prince Cyrus the Younger’s abortive attempt to gain the throne. The sling bullet may have been recovered near Şahan Kaya, in northern Lydia. It is one of the earliest extant examples of an inscribed bullet of molded lead, which became standard in later antiquity. As Foss has written, primarily on the evidence of Xenophon, Anabasis 3.3.6-4.5, Tissaphernes’ slingers evidently used sling bullets of stone prior to 401 BC; and the greater range of Rhodian sling bullets of lead over Persian sling bullets of stone, demonstrated in the retreat of the Ten Thousand, would have been a factor in the use of lead sling bullets by his slingers. For ancient sling bullets, see Korfmann 1973.
Discussed
Greenewalt, “Introduction”
Bibliography
Foss 1975; Foss 1987; Dedeoğlu 2003, 76, fig.; Roosevelt 2009, 242.
Author
CHG