Ancient Mycenaean armor tested by marines


Analysis of Greek prehistoric combat in full-body armor based on physiological principles: a series of studies using thematic analysis, human experiments, and numerical simulations.

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Artistic photo showing a replica of the Dendra Armor used in the study. Photo credits: Andreas Floris and Marija Marković. Reprinting requires permission.

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Credit: Flouris et al., 2024, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

According to a study published in an open access journal on May 22, 2024, the famous Mycenaean armor was not only suitable for ceremonial purposes, but also for long battles. pro swan Andreas Floris and colleagues from the University of Thessaly in Greece.

One of the oldest known pieces of European armor is a 3,500-year-old suit of armor discovered near the village of Dendra, a few kilometers from ancient Mycenae. Since its discovery in 1960, it was unclear whether it was a ceremonial suit or suitable for combat. Although this question has important implications for understanding warfare in Late Bronze Age Europe, there are no historical accounts that describe the use of this form of armor. In this study, researchers combine historical and experimental evidence to investigate the combat suitability of Dendra armor.

The authors recruited 13 volunteers from the Greek Marine Corps, outfitted them with replica Dendra armor and Bronze Age weapons, and simulated an 11-hour Bronze Age combat protocol. The combat simulation was developed based on historical descriptions from Homer’s Iliad and additional physiological and environmental evidence, and approximated the typical diet, activity, and mobility of Mycenaean troops. Experiments showed that the replicated Dendra armor did not limit warriors’ combat capabilities and did not impose significant strain on the wearer.

These results suggest that Dendra’s armor was combat-resistant, and suggest that the Mycenaeans’ strong influence in Mediterranean history was due in large part to their armor technology. To complement these results, the authors developed freely available software that allows simulation of combat conditions in order to test the armor’s hypothetical effectiveness in more diverse scenarios. Further research into Mycenaean combat techniques will continue to reveal details about the Late Bronze Age and the transition into the Iron Age.

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When reporting, please use this URL to access the article, which is available for free. pro swan: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0301494

Quote: Flouris AD, Petmezas SB, Asimoglou PI, Vale JP, Mayor TS, Giakas G, et al. (2024) Analysis of Greek prehistoric combat in full-body armor based on physiological principles: a series of studies using thematic analysis, human experiments, and numerical simulations. PLoS ONE 19(5): e0301494. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0301494

Author’s country: Greece, Portugal, Great Britain

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this research.


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