Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Laminated Linen Protected Alexander the Great
Discovery News ^ | 11 Jan 2010 | Rossella Lorenzi

Posted on 01/16/2010 8:09:03 AM PST by Palter

Alexander's men wore linothorax, a highly effective type of body armor created by laminating together layers of linen, research finds.

A Kevlar-like armor might have helped Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.) conquer nearly the entirety of the known world in little more than two decades, according to new reconstructive archaeology research.

Presented at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Anaheim, Calif., the study suggests that Alexander and his soldiers protected themselves with linothorax, a type of body armor made by laminating together layers of linen.

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

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

Indeed, Aldrede and co-investigator Scott Bartell discovered that linothorax was widely mentioned in ancient records.

"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," Aldrete said.

The main visual evidence for Alexander wearing linothorax is the famous "Alexander Mosaic" from Pompeii, in which the Macedonian king is depicted with this sort of armor.

Indeed, in his "Life of Alexander," the Greek historian Plutarch states that Alexander wore "a breastplate of folded (or doubled) linen" at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. This battle a was a huge victory for the Greeks and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.

According to the researchers, there is further evidence that linen breastplates were standard equipment in the Macedonian army.

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

In order to determine how wearable this armor was, and how effective it would have been in protecting its wearer from arrows and other battlefield hazards, Aldrete and Bartell reconstructed several complete sets of linen armor using only material that were only available in the ancient world.

"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," Aldrete said.

The other key ingredient was glue, which was placed over various layers of linen. The researchers chose to work with two simpler glues that would have been available everywhere: a glue made from the skins of rabbits and another from flax seeds.

Tests included shooting the resulting patches with arrows and hitting them with a variety of weapons including swords, axes and spears.

"Our controlled experiments basically dispelled the myth that armor made out of cloth must have been inferior to other available types. Indeed, the laminated layers function like an ancient version of modern Kevlar armor, using the flexibility of the fabric to disperse the force of the incoming arrow," Aldrete said.

According to Heidi Sherman, linen expert and professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the researchers have achieved some very convincing results.

"One cannot know with complete certainty how close the model is to the linen armor used by Alexander the Great's army, but several layers of fused linen can indeed withstand quite a rigorous battering. They would have provided ample protection under rather extreme conditions," Sherman told Discovery News.


This mosaic of Alexander the Great shows the king wearing linothorax -- an armor made from laminated linen.


TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: alexander; armor; godsgravesglyphs; linothorax; miltech; warfare; worldhistory

1 posted on 01/16/2010 8:09:05 AM PST by Palter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Alex, ping.


2 posted on 01/16/2010 8:09:39 AM PST by Palter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Palter

“When Alexander was in India, and received 25,000 new suits of armor for his army”

“The researchers chose to work with two simpler glues that would have been available everywhere: a glue made from the skins of rabbits”

My mind boggles at how many rabbits(if they used rabbit glue) were required for the amount of glue 25,000 suits of armor would need.

Interesting article, thanks.


3 posted on 01/16/2010 8:16:11 AM PST by Spike Knotts
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Palter; Charles Henrickson; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Thanks Palter.

This is one of the reasons he made...

...a permanent impression.

/rimshot!

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

·Dogpile · Archaeologica · LiveScience · Archaeology · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


4 posted on 01/16/2010 8:26:48 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Happy New Year! Freedom is Priceless.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Palter

Thanks for posting. Interesting.


5 posted on 01/16/2010 8:31:13 AM PST by spaced
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts

It’s a good thing they breed like, well, ahhh rabbits.


6 posted on 01/16/2010 8:36:35 AM PST by dangerdoc
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts

I bet most animals can be made into glue. Ever heard of “glue factory” ?

Easy to make version of kevlar, neat.


7 posted on 01/16/2010 8:39:53 AM PST by MetaThought
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: Spike Knotts
They used glue made from rabbits?

Thumper died so that Alexander could thump the Persians?

That does it--Alexander was a bad man.

9 posted on 01/16/2010 9:04:09 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts

Hey nOOb! Your tenor is very uncalled for.

You got a problem with dead bunnies? Or you wake up everyday to take it to some one you consider a hapless target for your own selfish gratification.

Cool it


10 posted on 01/16/2010 9:05:27 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously... You'll never live through it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Palter

The material is LRG... Linen Reinforced Glue. Today we have carbon and glass fibers reinforced with polyester and epoxy resins FRP. Paper mache is also similar. Very formable and quite strong

I am curious about the glue


11 posted on 01/16/2010 9:38:04 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Tax the poor. They are a drag on society)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts

Why not use glue form dead horses ? Larger and easier to catch.


12 posted on 01/16/2010 9:39:16 AM PST by Timocrat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Vendome; shibumi; Markos33; Slings and Arrows

Yeah, seriously.
Rough reply.

“paleo-fiberglass ping”


13 posted on 01/16/2010 9:40:29 AM PST by Salamander (No witty "tagline" for now....All I ask is for God to show mercy to my husband and let him live.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Timocrat

and just as tasty to the French


14 posted on 01/16/2010 9:41:11 AM PST by wardaddy (light skinned articulate white man with only one part of the anatomy one call negro in appearance)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Salamander

zipping back through his posts that is M.O. and it’s immature.

I mean, great that he found his pitching arm but seriously, he should be throwing strikes at the opposing team.


15 posted on 01/16/2010 9:47:10 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously... You'll never live through it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Vendome; Salamander; Spike Knotts; wardaddy; Slings and Arrows
Several hundred years later ..... The Rabbit's Revenge .....


16 posted on 01/16/2010 9:54:45 AM PST by shibumi (" ..... then we will fight in the shade.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Timocrat

Perhaps the horses too valuable.

Alexander aquired his prized war horses from a city called Larissa, Greece.


17 posted on 01/16/2010 10:08:32 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv; Palter

You know the thing about the system which Alexander had for synchronizing attacks (prior to the age of wrist watches) I assume?


18 posted on 01/16/2010 10:16:30 AM PST by wendy1946
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts

Rabbits pulled out of the herd for glue would get replaced really fast.....


19 posted on 01/16/2010 10:17:55 AM PST by wendy1946
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: shibumi

LOL. I could not find that picture. LOL


20 posted on 01/16/2010 10:29:30 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously... You'll never live through it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Spike Knotts
No s**t, sherlock. But the article says rabbit glue, not “every animal” glue. Go argue with the authors, and while you’re at it, get them to explain humor to you as well.

You know, I cannot stand know-it-alls who THEORIZE that this stuff was made out of rabbit glue. There is no such thing as rabbit glue. All-porpoise glue, yes. Gerbil glue was abundant since Egypt. But how DARE you sit there with your teeth in your mouth and your face hanging out and PROCLAIM like some Holy Royalty that this was made out of RABBIT GLUE! Ha! Ha! It IS to laugh. Your wrongness is only superceded by your audacity. Rabbit glue indeed. No such thing has EVER existed in the history of mankind. Next, you will be asserting that NASA created Rabbit Teflon to better cook Rabbit Eggs. WHY DO YOU PROMOTE SUCH FOOLISHNESS? Don't you know any better? Rabbits don't excrete glue, they don't spit glue, they cannot be made into glue, and they have NEVER stood in line at Walmart with a shopping cart full of glue. Get a clue -- or should I say get a GLUE! A non-rabbit cannot-exist nonglue that has never existed on this or any other planet in this or any other universe. Rabbit glue, how silly, how droll, how anti-rock-and-roll. Stop smoking crack or drinking methyl alcohol or wearing your pants baggy or whatever else it is that makes you talk CRAZY, NUTTY BUNNY about RABBIT GLUE. OMG! LOL! That is INSANE TALK! SEEK help, GET help, TAKE your meds, and STOP the crazy rabbit glue stuff.

21 posted on 01/16/2010 10:31:09 AM PST by Lazamataz (America has been dead for a while; It's interesting to watch the cadaver cool.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Palter

There is a TV documentary on this. Can’t remember which one but probably Ancient Marvels or something like that where they actually manufacture and test the linen armor against arrows, spears, etc.


22 posted on 01/16/2010 10:39:27 AM PST by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lazamataz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit-skin_glue


23 posted on 01/16/2010 11:07:00 AM PST by GSP.FAN (These are the times that try men's souls.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: GSP.FAN

Don’t make me go Medieval.


24 posted on 01/16/2010 11:08:46 AM PST by Lazamataz (America has been dead for a while; It's interesting to watch the cadaver cool.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Lazamataz
My Bad..
25 posted on 01/16/2010 11:13:10 AM PST by GSP.FAN (These are the times that try men's souls.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Palter

interesting. thanks


26 posted on 01/16/2010 11:42:40 AM PST by beebuster2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GSP.FAN; Lazamataz; SunkenCiv
From that Wiki article:

...Its supreme advantages are very, very fast bonding; and easy debonding with hot water if an instrument must be disassembled for internal repairs. [snip]

Because the glue is hygroscopic, it continually absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, causing the glue to swell and shrink. Over time, this constant flexing causes the brittle oil paint to crack. Modern substitutes for rabbit skin glue are available, such as Gamblin’s PVA size [2] and Golden Acrylics’ GAC100. These substitutes do not have the hygroscopic properties of rabbit skin glue, while still being very slightly hygroscopic, and should not cause the damage to oil paints that rabbit skin glue does. However, these modern replacements do not stiffen and tighten the canvas as well as rabbit skin glue does, so some artists still prefer to use rabbit skin glue.

Since they hadn't invented gunpowder yet, the cry was, "keep your armor dry!"

27 posted on 01/16/2010 12:25:40 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (I think not; therefore, I don't exist!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: wildbill

I saw that program, too. Makes me want to go outback and find various small critters and make them into glue to test a few theories.


28 posted on 01/16/2010 3:43:28 PM PST by FourPeas (Why does Professor Presbury's wolfhound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Palter

The armor would probably be much lighter in weight then metal based armor. Perfect for Alexander and his Companion Cavalry. Apparently the first shock cavalry unit.


29 posted on 01/16/2010 3:44:01 PM PST by justa-hairyape
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GSP.FAN

That really is a fascinating article. I happen to know a certain woodworker that’ll go all geeky over it.


30 posted on 01/16/2010 3:48:54 PM PST by FourPeas (Why does Professor Presbury's wolfhound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: FourPeas

I wonder if pickled pig’s feet would work for glue. I’ve never seen anyone take one out of the jar at a bar and eat one in over 50 years of hanging out.


31 posted on 01/16/2010 3:52:36 PM PST by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: wildbill

Could make an interesting Saturday night project.


32 posted on 01/16/2010 8:18:35 PM PST by FourPeas (Why does Professor Presbury's wolfhound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: ApplegateRanch

Thanks ApplegateRanch.


33 posted on 01/16/2010 9:39:32 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Happy New Year! Freedom is Priceless.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: MetaThought; bert; SunkenCiv
FWIW, Lester Shuban, the guy who developed the Kevlar vest, died this week.
34 posted on 01/16/2010 9:51:39 PM PST by Daffynition (What's all this about hellfire and Dalmatians?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Lazamataz

TAKE IT TO HIM LAZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


35 posted on 01/17/2010 1:22:56 PM PST by Mr. K (This administration IS WEARING OUT MY CAPSLOCK KEY!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: wildbill

Maybe you live a few hundred miles too far south...


36 posted on 01/17/2010 11:51:03 PM PST by gnarledmaw (Obama: Evincing a Design since 2009)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Daffynition

I guess that vest of his wasn’t foolproof then. ;’)


37 posted on 01/18/2010 9:35:42 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Happy New Year! Freedom is Priceless.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson