Ancient Greek armor proved effective in 11-hour battle simulation

Ancient Greek armor dating back 3,500 years proved combat-ready, according to a new study in which 13 soldiers wore replicas during an 11-hour simulation. Published in PLOS One and reported by, the study reveals that the armor of Mycenaean soldiers could withstand the rigors of combat.

The researchers used armor discovered in 1960 at Dendra, near the ancient city of Mycenae. They used 13 Greek marines to test the durability of the armor, which included a boar’s tusk helmet and bronze plates and sparked debate among archaeologists about its usefulness in battle.

“Since its discovery, the question has remained as to whether this armor was purely ceremonial or used for combat,” Andreas Floris, professor of physiology at the University of Thessaly in Greece and lead author of the study, explained to the Athens Macedonian News Agency. “The Dendra armor is considered one of the oldest complete armors from the European Bronze Age.”

To test the armor’s effectiveness, the researchers equipped volunteers with replicas and historical weapons, including spears and stones, and conducted an 11-hour simulation of Bronze Age warfare based on an account from Homer’s “Iliad” that depicts the final days of the Trojan War.

“We extracted the information necessary to create a Late Bronze Age combat simulation protocol, recreating the daily activities of elite Late Bronze Age warriors,” Floris said. They also used paleoclimate data to recreate Troy’s Late Bronze Age environmental conditions, where temperatures ranged from 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 20 degrees Celsius) and relative humidity was 70 to 80 percent.

The replica armor was made from a copper and zinc alloy, closely resembling the bronze original, had the same dimensions as the armor, and weighed 51 pounds (23 kg).

Additionally, the volunteers consumed a diet similar to that of Mycenaean soldiers, including bread, beef, goat cheese, green olives, onions, and red wine. “Interestingly, the blood glucose results showed that this nutritional plan provided the volunteers with enough energy for the entire 11-hour protocol,” Floris noted.

During the simulation, volunteers took part in various combat scenarios, including duels, infantry vs. tank, and tank vs. ship. The results showed that the armor neither hinders the soldiers’ combat capabilities nor puts them under significant strain.

The study concludes that ancient Greek armour was suitable for combat as well as for ceremonial purposes. “The effectiveness and versatility of the Mycenaean sword and spear have long been recognised. The addition of ‘heavy’ armour would have given Mycenaean elite warriors a considerable advantage over those armed only with shields or with the lighter ‘scaly’ armour used in the Middle East,” Floris said.

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