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  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Patrick Wertmann; Dongliang Xu; Irina Elkina; Regine Vogel; Ma'eryamu Yibulayinmu; Pavel E. Tarasov; Donald J. La Rocca; Mayke Wagner;
    Publisher: Freie Universität Berlin
    Countries: Germany, Switzerland

    Abstract The first millennium BCE was pivotal for the environment and for human societies in Central and Eastern Eurasia because transformations accelerated and altered natural and cultural landscapes to hitherto unknown dimensions. Among the major driving forces was the increasing use of horse riding, which extended range of movement significantly and led to the development of cavalry units as a part of large armies. Empires with enormous outreach and gravitational pull formed and disintegrated in close dependence. The wide spread of military technologies demonstrates their bonds, though mostly in the form of metal objects due to the inherent survivability of their materials. Equipment and protective clothing of organic material, albeit produced in large numbers and thus an economic and environmental factor, are rarely preserved. In Yanghai cemetery site, Turfan, the remains of one leather scale armour were discovered. In this study, the results of the AMS radiocarbon dating as well as the construction details of the Yanghai find are presented and compared with a contemporary armour of unknown origin in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (MET) and with finds and depictions from the Near East, the adjacent northern steppe areas and the territory of China. The armour, datable to 786–543 cal BCE (95% probability), was originally made of about 5444 smaller scales and 140 larger scales, which, together with leather laces and lining, had a total weight of ca. 4–5 kg. Our reconstruction demonstrates that it can be donned quickly and without the help of another person by wrapping the left part around the back, tying it to the right part under the right arm and fastening with thongs crosswise over the back to laces at the opposite hip parts. Fitting different statures, it is a light and highly efficient defensive garment. In age, construction details and aesthetic appearance it resembles the MET armour. The stylistic similarities but constructional differences suggest that the two armours were intended as outfits for distinct units of the same army, i.e. light cavalry and heavy infantry, respectively. As such a high level of standardization of military equipment during the 7th century BCE is only known for the Neo-Assyrian military forces, we suggest that the place of manufacture of both armours was the Neo-Assyrian Empire. If this supposition is correct, then the Yanghai armour is one of the rare actual proofs of West-East technology transfer across the Eurasian continent during the first half of the first millennium BCE, when social and economic transformation accelerated.

Include:
1 Research products, page 1 of 1
  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Patrick Wertmann; Dongliang Xu; Irina Elkina; Regine Vogel; Ma'eryamu Yibulayinmu; Pavel E. Tarasov; Donald J. La Rocca; Mayke Wagner;
    Publisher: Freie Universität Berlin
    Countries: Germany, Switzerland

    Abstract The first millennium BCE was pivotal for the environment and for human societies in Central and Eastern Eurasia because transformations accelerated and altered natural and cultural landscapes to hitherto unknown dimensions. Among the major driving forces was the increasing use of horse riding, which extended range of movement significantly and led to the development of cavalry units as a part of large armies. Empires with enormous outreach and gravitational pull formed and disintegrated in close dependence. The wide spread of military technologies demonstrates their bonds, though mostly in the form of metal objects due to the inherent survivability of their materials. Equipment and protective clothing of organic material, albeit produced in large numbers and thus an economic and environmental factor, are rarely preserved. In Yanghai cemetery site, Turfan, the remains of one leather scale armour were discovered. In this study, the results of the AMS radiocarbon dating as well as the construction details of the Yanghai find are presented and compared with a contemporary armour of unknown origin in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (MET) and with finds and depictions from the Near East, the adjacent northern steppe areas and the territory of China. The armour, datable to 786–543 cal BCE (95% probability), was originally made of about 5444 smaller scales and 140 larger scales, which, together with leather laces and lining, had a total weight of ca. 4–5 kg. Our reconstruction demonstrates that it can be donned quickly and without the help of another person by wrapping the left part around the back, tying it to the right part under the right arm and fastening with thongs crosswise over the back to laces at the opposite hip parts. Fitting different statures, it is a light and highly efficient defensive garment. In age, construction details and aesthetic appearance it resembles the MET armour. The stylistic similarities but constructional differences suggest that the two armours were intended as outfits for distinct units of the same army, i.e. light cavalry and heavy infantry, respectively. As such a high level of standardization of military equipment during the 7th century BCE is only known for the Neo-Assyrian military forces, we suggest that the place of manufacture of both armours was the Neo-Assyrian Empire. If this supposition is correct, then the Yanghai armour is one of the rare actual proofs of West-East technology transfer across the Eurasian continent during the first half of the first millennium BCE, when social and economic transformation accelerated.

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