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image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

Scale armor had a long history in the Near East and was almost exclusively the armor of the steppeland nomads. While depictions of Scythians in art seldom show them wearing armor, extensive archaeological finds yield scale armor. The Sarmatians were famed for scale armor which covered their bodies and that of their horses. Scale armor reached its furthest level of development among the Parthian cataphracti. The armor included flexible ring armor for the arms and legs. On the other hand, lamellar armor in the form of a long, caftan-like very supple suit was the dominant type of armor during the Sasanian period and eventually was introduced into Eastern Turkestan and China. The Khalchayan site has depictions of both light and heavy armored figures, but the manner in which the square laminae were joined is not clear. The Kushan rulers of Bactria shown on coins emphasized light cavalry, but later ones are depicted in scale or plate armor with the flexible ring leg and arm armor. As depicted in art, the armor of this area displayed Greco-Roman influences as well as that of the Indians to the south and the nomads to the north.


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