That’s the gist of an AFP report on the messages ancient soldiers carved into their ammunition:
Slingers, also known as sphendonetai, have been used in warfare through antiquity, from the Persian Wars and the endless fighting between Greek city states to Alexander the Great’s campaigns and the Roman conquest of Britain.
Julius Caesar noted in a treatise that they were particularly useful against war elephants despite being a low-class division of light infantry, said [Amanda] Kelly, a classics professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
“There is very little you can use against an elephant,” she said.
“Perhaps the most unexpected element,” Kelly said, “is the humor involved.”
She cited examples of Athenian sling bullets that read “Take that” or Cypriot versions saying “This is yours.” More advanced taunts speak of male genitalia, impregnation and other sexual references.
Aside from boosting morale and dampening enemy spirits, inscribed bullets indicated the literacy of an army and that of its opponents as there was little point in employing the weapon unless both sides understood its meaning.