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Horse Armor

ca. A.D. 165–256

Iron

Flat: 130.81 × 177.8 cm (51 1/2 × 70 in.)
Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos
1933.680
Soldiers in the third century B.C. protected the bodies of their horses with armor blankets, each made up of about two thousand scales. Bound together with wire, the overlapping scales were attached with rawhide strips to a linen-and-leather support. The sides hung just low enough to protect the horse without impeding its movement. Dura-Europos has yielded the only known examples of this type of armor, which was used by Parthian, Sasanian, and later Roman heavy cavalry. Upon excavation, this iron example came to the Gallery along with many fragments of a second bronze one; a complete third example (also bronze) is in the National Museum in Damascus.
Geography: 
Excavated in Dura-Europos, Syria
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Syrian, Dura-Europos
Period: 
Roman (2nd or 3rd century A.D.)
Classification: 
Arms and Armor
Provenance: 

Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (Tower 19), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Clark Hopkins, The Discovery of Dura-Europos, ed. Bernard Goldman (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979), 191, field photograph, ill.

Simon T. James, The Excavations at Dura-Europos,1928 to 1937: Final Report VII, 7 (London: British Museum Press, 2004), 131–32, no. 450, fig. 78, 79.

Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 300, fig. 18.6.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.