This 2,500-year-old scale armor reveals its secrets

Researchers recently discovered 2,500-year-old leather scale armor in the Yanghai archaeological site. Its design, although special, is reminiscent of a style of equipment worn by Persian soldiers of the 5th century BC.

The leather garment was found in a man’s grave with several artifacts including pottery, toys and a sheep’s skull. However, for the researchers, the way the armor ended up there “remains an enigma”.

Moreover, it is a unique discovery in China, because there would not exist no other scale armor from this period or from an earlier period found.

Incredibly intricate armor design?

This leather scaled armor is said to weigh up to five kilograms and is similar to the form of an apron. Not only is the armor easy to put on, it is also a excellent protection against various blows. This would be a very effective, one-size-fits-all, defensive garment for soldiers in a mass army.

A reconstruction of the armor revealed that it was made up of approximately 5444 small leather scales and of 140 larger. These are arranged in horizontal rows attached by means of leather laces. The equipment has been shaped so that the layering of scales that is similar to those of fish.

In addition, thanks to a vegetable thorn in the leather garment, the researchers managed to obtain a radiocarbon dating between 786 and 543 BC. Thus, this garment would be older than armor “fish scales” of the Persians, described by the historian Herodotus.

The first evidence of equipment transfer to Eurasia?

It would seem that this scaled armor was not made in China. Indeed, it has a strong similarity with theNeo-Assyrian military equipment, recognized by the rock carvings that appear there. These data imply that technology transfers have already existed across the Eurasian continent around the first millennium.

“We suggest that this piece of leather scale armor was probably made in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and possibly nearby regions as well. »

Patrick Wertmann, lead researcher of the study

By the way, scale armor is an integral part of army equipment in West Asia. This style of defensive clothing subsequently, inspired the Persians, the Shythians and the Greeks.


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