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Greek Marines Prove Mycenaean Suit of Armor Was Fit for Battle

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Greek Marines Prove Mycenaean Suit of Armor Was Fit for Battle

A suit of armor found at an archaeological site near the village of Dendra, Greece in 1960 has been linked to the famed kingdom of Mycenae, a militarily powerful Late Bronze age fiefdom that holds the distinction of being ancient Greece’s first great civilization.

After an initial examination scholars determined that this particular suit of armor had most likely been worn for ceremonial purposes only, and would not have been used for protection in battle. But a new study just published in the journal

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 has upended this conclusion, offering evidence to show that this armor was perfectly suitable for battle, and would in fact have provided ample protection to the wearer.

Artistic photo showing the replica of the Dendra armor used in the study. Photo credit: Andreas Flouris and Marija Marković. Permission required for reproduction. (Flouris et al., 2024, 

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Practical Assessment By the Professionals

This fascinating new evidence emerged not from a laboratory study, but during a live simulation of Late Bronze Age, Mycenaean-era battlefield conditions by Greek Marines affiliated with the Hellenic Armed Forces.

The Marines donned replica armor that duplicated the style of the Mycenaean suit while participating in this mock military exercise, the results of which proved that this armor was both comfortable to wear and not easily violated by the types of weapons that were in use during the heyday of the Greek Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the Greek mainland from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.

Geomorphology of the area surrounding Troy in the later phases of the Late Bronze Age (labels indicate the locations of the two army encampments and the geographic features of the area). The map was created using Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator, a free web application, under a CC BY license, with permission from Max Haniyeu, original copyright 2017–2021.  (Flouris et al., 2024, 

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Revisiting the Mycenaean Battlefield of 1,500 BC

The team of Greek archaeologists involved in the new study, led by Mycenaean civilization specialist Dr. Andreas Flouris from the University of Thessaly, recruited 13 Marine volunteers to participate in their field experiment.

During the mock battle they organized and plotted, none of the Marines was outfitted in the historical suit of armor itself, which is approximately 3,500 years old and has been carefully preserved and protected by cultural authorities since its discovery. Instead, these modern warriors were all dressed in duplicate versions of the Dendra armor, which were made from the same materials and manufactured to the same design specifications as the real Mycenaean battle suit.

The Greek Marines were supplied with Bronze Age-style weapons that matched those that would have been carried by Mycenaean warriors on the battle fields of ancient Greece in the second millennium BC. The Marines were then run through a realistic combat simulation for a total of 11 grueling hours, during which they were exposed to various battlefield scenarios that the typical Mycenaean soldier might have encountered.

Volunteer marine soldiers in simulated combat wearing the Dendra armor replica during the empirical study (right) and an artistic photo ****** (left). Photo credit: Andreas Flouris and Marija Marković. Permission required for reproduction. (Flouris et al., 2024, 

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The study authors went to great lengths to reconstruct actual Late Bronze Age battlefield conditions for their simulation. Some of the information they used was taken from battle accounts portrayed in Homer’s epic poem the Iliad, which was set in Mycenaean times. Even though Homer’s works are believed to have been written during the seventh or eighth centuries BC, they are likely based on more ancient ***** traditions and are therefore considered reliable.

Using descriptions culled from Homer’s writing, plus additional historical and archaeological data collected at various Mycenaean cultural sites, the study authors staged an imaginary battle where Mycenaean military strategies, activities and maneuvers were replicated as exactly as possible.

During the battlefield simulation the armor was shown to offer good protection against the weapons in use more than 3,000 years ago, regardless of the striking or attacking tactics that were employed. Just as importantly, the Dendra armor did not hinder the Marines’ freedom of movement or cause them discomfort from either their weight or their positioning on the Marines’ bodies.

To add further verification to these exciting field results, the archaeologists used a special software program that can simulate combat conditions across time to test the effectiveness of battle armor in multiple scenarios. These simulations reaffirmed the Mycenaean armor’s efficacy, adding more weight to the claim that the 3,500-year-old Dendra armor was manufactured for military use and was not meant to be worn as ceremonial garb.

A Warrior Society Protected by its Armor

The idea that the ancient suit of armor might have been ceremonial was based on its size and design. When it was first examined many experts concluded it wouldn’t have been loose or light enough for battlefield conditions, and therefore must have been made to be worn during public festivals or other celebratory events. But the Greek archaeologists responsible for the new findings are certain they’ve proven the falsity of this assertion.

They wrote in their PLOS ONE article:

“Despite its cumbersome appearance at first sight, [the Dendra armor] is not only flexible enough to permit almost every movement of a wearer on foot, but also resilient enough to protect the wearer from most blows …In addition, our experiments have demonstrated that the armor is of a weight and structure to permit extended use in combat day after day, for up to 11 hours, without detriment to a fit wearer.”

The archaeologists note that written records from ancient times suggest the Mycenaeans had ongoing security concerns, and as a result they chose to keep standing armies equipped with weapons, chariots and armor on alert and ready to propel invaders at all times. Additionally, Mycenaean society was led by a warrior caste that occupied most positions of authority, and it’s possible that the elaborate but still-functional Mycenaean suit of armor was made to be worn by one of the society’s most revered military and political leaders.

Because it is a singular find it is difficult to determine who the suit was actually made for, although it can now be stated for certain that a Mycenaean warrior wearing it during a battle with his kingdom’s enemies would have been well-protected.

Top image: Artistic photo showing the replica of the Dendra armor used in the study. Source: Flouris et al., 2024, 

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By Nathan Falde

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Mycenaean, bronze age, armor, Greek, ancient greece
#Greek #Marines #Prove #Mycenaean #Suit #Armor #Fit #Battle

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