Marines discover 3,500-year-old battle-worthy Greek armor

Modern-day Marines tested ancient Greek bulletproof vests in an 11-hour simulation of a Bronze Age battle, and found them to be combat-worthy.

The experiment is a study published in an open access journal. ProSonehas revealed that armour representative of this period would have been suitable for more than merely ceremonial purposes, as previously suggested.

The suits worn by the Marines were modeled after a suit discovered in 1960 near the village of Dendra in Greece that is believed to be around 3,500 years old (the oldest known in Europe).

It is associated with the ancient Mycenaean culture, which flourished during the Late Bronze Age, around 1700-1100 BC, and is generally considered to have been the first advanced civilization to develop on the Greek mainland.

Soldier in replica ancient Greek armour
Volunteer Marines wear replica Dendra armor during a mock battle during an artistic photo shoot (left) and during research (right). Research has shown that the armor…

© Andreas Flouris and Marija Marković/Flouris et al., PLOS ONE 2024), CC-BY 4.0 (

The nearly intact Dendra armor was made from hammered bronze plates and is thought to be the best-preserved example of full body armor from the Mycenaean period, but since its discovery experts have debated whether it was used solely for ceremonial purposes or was also intended to be worn in battle.

“The lack of documented answers has prevented us from fully understanding the context of warfare that determined social transformations in the prehistoric world,” said Andreas Floris and Yannis Koutedakis of the University of Thessaly in Greece, and Ken Wardle of the University of Birmingham in the UK. Newsweek.

In their study, the authors attempt to address this question by combining historical and experimental evidence.

First, the researchers looked at Homer’s epic poem, Iliad They then combined this information with other knowledge to create an 11-hour combat simulation protocol that recreated the everyday activities of elite Late Bronze Age warriors.

The team then recruited 13 volunteers from the Greek military’s marine corps to complete the simulation protocol while wearing replicas of Dendra Armor.

The researchers found that the armor did not limit the Marines’ combat capabilities or impose significant strain on the wearer, making it suitable for use in combat and not merely for ceremonial purposes.

The results also suggest that Mycenaean warriors may have been some of the “best-equipped” fighters in the eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age, the authors say, supporting the idea that their armour and other military technology was at least partly the reason they had such a major impact on the region.

“The efficacy and versatility of Mycenaean swords and spears has long been recognized,” the authors said. Newsweek“The addition of ‘heavy’ armour would have given Mycenaean warrior elites a considerable advantage over those who carried shields solely for protection, and over those wearing the lighter ‘scale’ armour used in the Middle East.”

“The combination of armored warriors riding into battle on chariots and arriving to the front lines with plenty of energy reserves means these warriors must have been a formidable foe.”

Among the Mycenaean achievements, the culture developed syllabary, the oldest known form of written Greek.

This civilization was centered around the ancient city of Mycenae, located in the northeastern Peloponnese, whose ruins lie just a few miles from Dendra.

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