As with swords, the armor of the Trojan War appeared long before it even began. The earliest piece of defensive armor is a bronze shoulder pad found in one of the tombs from Dendra (Tomb # 8) and dating back to 1550 - 1500 BC. At first it was thought to be a helmet, but later it was correctly identified as a shoulder pad for the right shoulder. There were no other parts, and this gave rise to three hypotheses:
a) all the armor was originally placed in the tomb, but later it was removed;
b) the shoulder pad symbolized all armor;
c) only this shoulder pad was metal, and the rest of the armor was made of leather, and it just crumbled from time to time.
But in the tomb of Dendra No. 12 (1450 - 1400 BC) they found a full armor of a warrior, which consisted of bronze parts.
Armor from Dendra.
This protection consists of: a) two bronze plates about 1 mm thick, which protect the warrior's torso; b) two bronze shoulder pads (similar but not equal in shape to the find in tomb No. 8); c) two pieces of curved bronze plates attached to the underside of the shoulder pads to protect the forearm; d) two triangular pieces of bronze attached to the shoulder pads for an extra chest; f) bronze collar; f) six bronze plates attached to the lower edge of the carapace - three in the front and three in the back.
Reconstruction of armor from Dendra.
All parts have a series of small holes at the edges with a diameter of 2 mm, used to attach the liner to the inside of the carapace. The lining was leather, its remains were found inside the plates. Thin threads of goat hair have been found. Large holes, approximately 4 mm, at the edges of all elements were used to connect the various plates to each other using leather cords.
The famous "mask of Agamemnon" from the "gold-rich Mycenae".
The armor was reconstructed, and it turned out that, despite its strange design and considerable weight, they were flexible enough and comfortable for use by infantrymen, and not, as is sometimes argued, exclusively by chariot warriors. This experimental reconstruction also leads to the conclusion that this armor was created for fighting with sword and spear. But using them onions is inconvenient. Throat protection is especially important if we remember that warriors have rapier swords of types C and D (see part one, dedicated to swords). Of course, this does not mean that this armor was specially designed to protect only from these swords, but this, of course, was taken into account by the creators of the armor. An interesting feature of this armor is the difference in the width of the armhole: for the right arm the armhole is larger than the greater freedom of the right arm in combat is provided. This is further evidence that the "armor from Dendra" is intended for ground combat, not just parade or chariot warriors.
"Lion's Gate" at Mycenae.
By the way, the total weight of this armor ranges from 15 to 18 kg. Considering the size of the chest plates and analysis of the skeleton found in the tomb, it was found that the warrior who owned the "Dendra armor" was 1.75 m tall, but very slender and weighed about 60-65 kg.
The find is confirmed by pottery fragments from Mycenae (1350 - 1300 BC). In this image, the cuirass with a large collar is quite recognizable. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell from this fragment whether the warrior is on foot or is fighting in a chariot.
Fragment of ceramics depicting a warrior in armor with a characteristic collar.
There were also found 117 bronze plaques (circa 1370 - 1250 BC) during excavations in tombs in Messinia. They have small holes from 1 to 2 mm in diameter for attaching to the lining. That is, armor made of scales-plates was also known to the ancient Achaeans.
It should be emphasized, however, that most of the armor described above was used by the warriors of the Cretan-Mycenaean culture long before the Trojan War itself. If the year of the fall of Troy is considered 1250, then for 100 - 250 years, and if this event is dated 1100 or 1000, as some historians do, then this time becomes even greater. And from here, again, the question arises about the continuity and tradition of Achaean weapons. As far as it corresponded not so much to the time of its discovery, there just does not arise a problem, as to the time of interest to us. That is, figuratively speaking, "could the legendary Achilles wear armor from Dendra?"
"March of the Warriors" - the image on the Mycenaean vase. Note their strange horned helmets with crests and round shields with a cropped hem.
Since bronze armor was supposed to be extremely valuable, there is every reason to believe that the same "armor" could be passed from one generation to another until it became completely unusable, or it was not buried together with the warrior in the grave. But … the development of armor based on combat experience cannot be ruled out either, although the traditionality of ancient historical cultures was exceptionally high. In Japan, for example, almost until now, everything old was considered better than new, so a chipped tea cup is valued more than a new one!
At the same time, in the rest of Europe, solid-forged bronze armor and, in particular, bronze cuirasses were also used. They were found in Slovakia, Hungary and Italy, because they bordered on the Achaean civilization and either borrowed them, or bought them, or … mined in battles.
A remarkable example of Achaean armor … in the form of a stone vessel in the shape of a cuirass with shoulder pads. From a burial in Crete near the palace at Knossos (about 1350 BC).
For example, well-preserved bronze cuirasses found in the Danube near Pilismarot of Hungary (1300 - 1100 BC) have come down to us.
Breastplate from Pilismaroth.
A fragment of a breastplate of a carapace was discovered in Slovakia (circa 1250 BC). A fragment of a cuirass was also found from Cerna nad Tisou, Slovakia, (1050 to 950 BC). True, all these findings are fragmentary. But they are significant in the sense that they prove the existence of such armor at that time. That is, in the Bronze Age, metal armor was not such an amazing rarity! In fact, these were real … knightly armor, covering the torso, neck and legs to the knees, or plate ("scaly") armor, again very similar to the later ones, but made of bronze, not iron. That is, somewhere from the 15th century until the fall of the Aegean civilization, the level of metalworking characteristic of it was very high.
Well, the later images of the heroes and scenes of the Trojan War, made by the classical Greeks, have no real relation to the past. That is, we see signatures under (or above the figures): Achilles, Ajax, Hector, but these are nothing more than artistic images associated with the peculiarity of the lack of historical thinking among people of that time. What they saw around them, they also projected onto the past. Therefore, shields-hoplons, "helmets with crests" and muscle cuirasses from the arsenal of soldiers of the Trojan War should be excluded. Including the future designers of the Iliad and Odyssey books published for children!