Virtual reality: What can video games show us about ancient armor?

Researchers modeled the equipment of a Germanic warrior from between the 2nd and 4th AD.

Young Americans playing video games (illlustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Young Americans playing video games (illlustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The same virtual reality technology used for video games is allowing researchers to understand how ancient warriors wore their armor by creating a version in code.
The tech allows researchers to model the armor on virtual mannequins and people, according to a new article published in the Journal of Cultural heritage.
The article focused on the equipment of a Germanic warrior from between the 2nd and 4th AD in order to showcase the possibilities of this type of virtual reconstruction. The equipment modeled includes a coat of chain mail, trousers, a tunic, shoes and more.
The modeling showed that the warrior's equipment was well suited for warfare. The modeling also led researchers to a number of conclusions about the warrior's chain mail tunic.
They found that the wearing of a belt over a coat of mail would distribute its weight more evenly across the warrior's body.
The belt also kept the mail in place so that it would not get in the wearer's way. Furthermore, the mail could be worn over thick felt that offered additional protection and was versatile and could be used with different weapons and in different roles on the battlefield.
Models can help researchers visualize the artifacts, but they also enable researchers to run various programs on artifacts and clothing ancient items, examining how they may respond to heat or how much flexibility they gave the wearer.
Many archeological artifacts are delicate meaning ancient clothing cannot be worn and this poses a challenge to researchers who want to know how it was worn or what those wearing it were able to achieve.
In some cases, the clothing was not preserved in its entirety and virtual reality can allow researchers to recreate incomplete pieces, according to the study.