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Alexander wore 'linothorax' - armor made from laminated linen

Washington, Tue, 12 Jan 2010 ANI

Washington, January 12 (ANI): Alexander the Great's body armor was made of layers of linen laminated together, according to a new research.


Experts suggest that the conqueror's soldiers also wore similar attires.


The reconstructive archaeology research hints that the Kevlar-like armours must have been instrumental in Alexander's success in conquering nearly the entirety of the known world in little more than two decades.


"While we know quite a lot about ancient armour made from metal, linothorax remains something of a mystery since no examples have survived, due to the perishable nature of the material," the Discovery News quoted Gregory Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as saying.


He added: "Nevertheless, we have managed to show that this linen armour thrived as a form of body protection for nearly 1,000 years, and was used by a wide variety of ancient Mediterranean civilizations.


"Currently we have 27 descriptions by 18 different ancient authors and nearly 700 visual images on objects ranging from Greek vases to Etruscan temple reliefs."


According to researchers, the most reliable proof of Macedonian king wearing linothorax is the famous "Alexander Mosaic" from Pompeii.


Aldrete said: "When Alexander was in India, and received 25,000 new suits of armour for his army, he is described as having ordered the old worn-out suits of armour to be burned. This would only make sense if they had been made of fabric rather than metal."


As part of the research, Aldrede and co-investigator Scott Bartell even developed several complete sets of linen armour to determine its durability and effectiveness.


Aldrete briefed: "The hardest part of the project was finding truly authentic linen. It had to be made from flax plants that were grown, harvested and processed, spun and woven by hand."


He further revealed that they used glue made from the skins of rabbits and another from flax seeds to stick the layers of linen together.


Aldrete said: "Our controlled experiments basically dispelled the myth that armour made out of cloth must have been inferior to other available types.


"Indeed, the laminated layers function like an ancient version of modern Kevlar armour, using the flexibility of the fabric to disperse the force of the incoming arrow." (ANI)


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