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Евсеенков А.С.

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Linothorax (Greek: λινοθώραξ) is an ancient Greek carapace made of linen cloth. It was also known in other parts of the ancient world. Similar armor has probably been used since the Mycenaean period. From the late 6th century BC, they became the standard protective gear of Hoplites, and were most common among the Greek Poleis. Compared to bronze armor (thorax), linothorax was lighter, cheaper, and less difficult to move, while providing a comparable degree of protection. Linothorax was actively used until the 3rd century BC, after which it was replaced by other types of armor from mass use. There is evidence of a later use in the Roman Empire, but this phenomenon is rather exceptional.

Unfortunately, no linothorax has been found, but there are a huge number of visual and written sources.

A warrior putting on a linothorax, his shoulder pads straightened behind his back. 6th century BC
A warrior in the linothorax. Fragment of a fresco from the "tomb of the Amazons" in Tarquinia. 4th century BC
Fresco from the tomb of Orcus (Orcus in Tarquinia II). 340-320 BC

Linothorax in Macedonians

In a mosaic from Pompeii, Alexander the Great is depicted wearing a linothorax, presumably with metal shoulder pads and a breastplate, and a band of scales running down his waist. Presumably, such protection was common for the Getaire cavalry.

According to the Late Macedonian inscriptions from Amphipolis, which contain the military regulations of Philip V, the linothorax (called cotthybos) was the standard carapace of ordinary phalangites. At the same time, it is likely that the commanders and warriors of the first rank of the phalanx used metal thorax or hemithoraks. For the loss of kotfib, the soldier had to pay a fine twice less than for thorax / hemithorax, which gives information about the price ratio of these two types of armor. Probably, in the time of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the soldiers of Macedon were equipped in a similar way.

Presumably, the linothorax was the standard armor of the Macedonian army. In the description of the Macedonian campaign in India, it is mentioned that on the orders of Alexander, the army was equipped with 25,000 new shells. At the same time, he ordered the "old and worn-out" ones to be "burned".

The main pictorial evidence that Alexander the Great wore a linothorax is the famous mosaic from Pompeii, which depicts the Macedonian king in linen armor. In addition, the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch wrote in the biography of Alexander the Great that the general during the battle of Gavgamela was dressed in a linothorax: "Having ordered to pass this to Parmenion, Alexander put on a helmet. All the other armor he had put on in the tent: a Sicilian-made hypendima with a belt, and over it a double linen carapace taken from the loot captured at Issus" (XXXII). In this battle, which took place on October 1, 331 BC, the Greeks won, which led to the death of the Persian Empire.

Alexander the Great on a fragment of an ancient Roman mosaic from Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD
Battle of Alexander the Great. Ancient Roman mosaic from Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD

Linothorax in the Etruscans

The Etruscans also used linothorax in their armies, sometimes reinforcing them with metal plates. A similar carapace with narrow, vertically oriented plates in the Assyrian style can be seen on the statue of Mars from Todi, located in the Vatican's Gregorian Etruscan Museum. Images of metal-reinforced linothorax plates date back to the 3rd century BC, at the same time the Etruscans appear chain mail, which they adopted from the Celts, modifying it with rectangular shoulder reinforcements that were fixed on the chest. Later, this form was borrowed by the Celts themselves, after which it passed into the Roman army.

Terracotta warrior statue in Linothorax. Etruscan Museum of Vulci. 4th century BC
An Etruscan warrior in the Linothorax. National Archaeological Museum, Florence. Around 360 BC.
Mars of Todi, an Etruscan bronze statue. Probably in Linothorax. Vatican City Museum. 5th century BC

Linothorax in the Romans

In the Roman army, although linothorax was not used as massively as in Greece, nevertheless there are references in pictorial sources about it. The most famous are a bas - relief with a centurion and a fresco with a Praetorian dressed in linothorax. The latest and most recent evidence of linothorax use in the ancient world dates back to the early Roman Empire.

Centurion Marcus Favonius Facilis tombstone from the XX (Valeria Victrix) Valerian Victorious Legion. Colchester. Colchester and Essex Museum. 1st century CE (43-50 yrs.)
Praetorian Guard, fresco from the Golden House of Nero. 64-68 AD


The linothorax was made from several layers of linen fabric that were treated with a special solution and tightly glued together. This essentially makes the linothorax the first composite armor. The total thickness was approximately 0.5 cm. The main part of the shell was something like a wide ribbon with cutouts in the armholes, which wrapped around the body and fastened on the left side (A, B, C, D and E in the diagram above). The lower part of this main part was cut in the form of ribbons (the so-called pterigs, the name of which passed to indicate the ends in the Roman subarmalis. In the diagram, they are marked with the letter G), which covered the upper part of the thighs, while not restricting the movement of the legs. From the inside, another layer of fabric was attached, the pterugs of which were located opposite the sections of the pterugs of the outer layer. On the warrior's figure, the pterugs formed a sort of segmented skirt. Sometimes this part could be removed from the linothorax. A U-shaped part was attached to the back from above, the ends of which were thrown over the shoulders and fixed on the chest (indicated by the letter F in the diagram). The shoulder pads, due to their elasticity, straightened and occupied an upright position in the unfastened state. Sometimes the linothorax could be additionally covered with metal plates or scales. It is assumed that the weight of such armor was from 3.5 to 5 kg.

Diagram of the linothorax structure

Related topics

Hoplite, Lorica Musculata, Lorica lintea, Centurion, The Praetorian Guard


Connolly, Peter. Greece and Rome. Encyclopedia of Military History = Greece and Rome at War. - Moscow: EKSMO-Press, 2001. - 320 p. - ISBN 5-04-005183-2.

Secunda N., McBride A. The Army of Alexander the Great. - AST, 2004. - 56 p. - ISBN 5-17-022244-0.


Amazon in linothorax. 6th century BC
Achilles bandages the wounded Patroclus. Both figures were wearing linothorax plates reinforced with scales, and Patroclus ' untied left shoulder pad straightened up. Image from a red-figure vase from Vulci, circa 500 BC.