Documenting the manufacturing processes of ancient armour with the support of archaeological science: new experimental approaches

Session AAP :

AAP 2022-2

Scientific responsibility :

  • Philippe Dillmann
  • Catherine Verna
  • Valérie Toureille
  • Benoît Mille
  • Olivier Renaudeau

Partnership :

  • Musée de l’Armée

Funding :


Project ID : IDF-DIM-PAMIR-2022-2-001

Summary :

The study of medieval arms and armour constitutes a great opportunity to document the circulation of steels and techniques as well as the complexity and scope of European markets. While interdisciplinary approaches, based on scientific analysis of museum artefact, have already prove their capacity to highlight these historical issues, their implementation by archaeological sciences often requires sampling, which is rarely authorised. Hence, this project proposes a new methodological approach combining the results of structural analyses (metallographic replicas, XRD) and compositions (quantification of carbon and phosphorus by LIBS and determination of the composition of slag inclusions by LA-ICP-MS), which are either minimally or non-invasive, on a batch of selected pieces of armour, with the aim of assessing the nature and origin of the metal supplies at the scale of each object in a representative manner. The data collected will contribute to the development of an extensive database for ferrous alloys used in medieval armour, which will shed light on technical skills and the quality of manufacturing processes, target the origins of materials and pave the way for large-scale interdisciplinary studies in this field.


Post-doctoral student : Leïla Galai