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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:2, Summer 2023

Sling Bullet Uncovered at Yavneh

“Victory of Heracles and Hauronas” reads the Greek inscription from a 2,200-year-old sling bullet. Contrary to what you might expect, however, the bullet was found not in Greece, but in Israel. The object was uncovered during the ongoing excavations at Tel Yavneh by the Israel Antiquities Authority and dates to a time when the town of Yavneh was a firmally of the Seleucid Empire in the early years of the Hellenistic period (c. 332–37 BCE).

The inscription written on the sling bullet, which is made of lead and measures about 2 inches long, would have served to taunt the enemy, raise the slinger’s morale, or possibly endow it with the favor of the gods Heracles and Hauronas whose names are inscribed upon it.

During the second century BCE, Yavneh, located along Israel’s southern coastal plain, was a fully Hellenized city. There is no way to know who used the sling bullet or against whom it may have been thrown. However, the excavation directors suggest that it may be connected to the Maccabean revolt against Greek rule, which is remembered in the celebration of Hanukkah.

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