Modern Soldiers Test Ancient Greek Armour to Validate Its Effectiveness in Combat


An experiment inspired by Homer’s descriptions in "The Iliad" has tested the capabilities of the Dendra armour suit from Greece’s Bronze Age, revealing its practicality in warfare. Modern military volunteers, including members of Greece’s Hellenic Marines, donned replicas of ancient Greek armour and performed various combat exercises to simulate Bronze Age warfare.

This demonstration provided strong evidence that the 3,500-year-old Dendra armour suit, one of the oldest complete metal armour suits from Europe’s Bronze Age, was suitable for battle. Despite some scholars previously suggesting it was purely ceremonial, the experiment showed its effectiveness in combat scenarios.

Andreas Flouris of the University of Thessaly, along with his colleagues, enlisted the Hellenic Marines to wear 23-kilogram Dendra armour replicas. Participants walked, ran, rode a replica chariot, and engaged in combat moves with swords, spears, bows, and arrows, and even stones. These activities were based on Homer’s depictions of heavily armoured elite warriors using hit-and-run tactics, which Flouris describes as a form of "high-intensity interval exercise."

Throughout the 11-hour exercise, researchers monitored the volunteers' heart rate, core body temperature, skin temperature, blood tests, and energy expenditure. The participants followed an Iliad-inspired Mediterranean meal plan, which included heavy breakfasts and dinners, and snacks like dry bread, honey, goat cheese, and onions.

Despite signs of fatigue and soreness, the volunteers successfully completed the regimen and likely could have performed even more strenuously in real combat, according to team member Yiannis Koutedakis of the University of Thessaly.

The team also used a computer-based mathematical model to demonstrate that a warrior wearing the Dendra armour could endure an 11-hour combat period under most outdoor conditions.

Barry Molloy of University College Dublin acknowledges that while Homer might not be the most reliable source for Bronze Age warfare, the study’s rigorous testing protocols are crucial for assessing the practicality of the armour for sustained battle use.

The findings from this study could also help interpret similar artefacts, such as those found in the Griffin Warrior Tomb in Greece, according to Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis of the University of Cincinnati. However, Stocker humorously notes that it is unlikely the Hellenic Marines will adopt the Dendra armour as their official gear anytime soon.

(Source: New Scientist)

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