Linothorax: Kevlar of the Ancients

The House of the Faun in Pompeii is known for being one of the largest and most impressive private residences in the ancient city. Among its many works of art is a depiction of Alexander the Great in battle. In previous episodes we have discussed Alexander’s rule and empire, but this time, let’s focus on his armour, as shown in this mosaic on the floor of the House of Faun, the only contemporary portrayal of linothorax on a known figure. For, instead of wearing bronze or iron armour as one might expect, Alexander is going into battle wearing a breastplate of linen.

Gregory Aldrete has spent 12 years studying the composition and effectiveness of this ancient armour used by many nations around the Mediterranean. To do so, he recreated the armour from scratch, using authentic materials. In this episode Gregory, Professor Emeritus from The University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, speaks with Tristan about how this armour protected one of the most powerful conquering armies of all history, despite being made of a soft fabric.


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