Friday, November 03, 2006

The Dendra Cuirass: Part II

Unique Mycenaean suit of armor due for conservation
Found 46 years ago, this rare relic of the Bronze Age needs repair

The Mycenean suit of armor found at Dendra in the Argolid.

IOTA SYKKA - ekathimerini

The only complete example of a Mycenaean suit of armor ever found is to be sent for conservation work, 46 years since its discovery at Dendra in the Argolid, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has decided.

Dating from the 15th century BC, it is made up of four pieces: a neckpiece, two epaulettes, a breastplate and an articulated section with three straps to protect the rest of the warrior’s torso.

Broad strips of metal were fastened to a leather lining which appears to have covered the body from neck to knee. At 15 kilos, its weight must have made it hard to move in and it is believed that it was not worn on the battlefield but in circumstances where a show of prestige was in order.

Until recently, the armor was on display at the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion among other objects found in May 1960 by Nikos Verdelis, then head of the Fourth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, and Paul Astrom, director of the Swedish Archaeological School.

At that time they were investigating one of the graves in the cemetery at Dendra, which had been the subject of an attempted raid. They found a large number of impressive objects, of which the suit of armor was an exceptional example of Mycenaean art, the only one known to have been found that predates the Geometric era.

The Ancient and Modern Monuments Conservation Directorate, which studied the suit of armor, reported that it needed treatment, not only because it was 46 years since the original preservation work, but because modern methods can reveal more detail.

So far, examination has shown that the armor is fragile, has severe cracks and is broken in places.

The study proposes construction of a new display case from Japan with anti-seismic features and made of glass so that the armor is visible from all angles, as well as a firmer means of support.


Alexandra P said...

I teach 12 year olds some random ancient history, including Greek, and I must tell them about this - at least some of them will be interested! The fact that things are still changing - that is, things are still being found out, and ideas changed - is a useful corrective for them: most of them think that historians and discoveries are themselves history... so thanks for this!

Ioannis Georganas said...

Dear Alexandra,

You're most welcome! I'm glad that I can be of some help! If you need more info, feel free to contact me.