Alexander the Great, the ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, built one of the largest empires in the history of the ancient world. Despite his legendary status, Alexander certainly was not immortal, and he relied on a special form of protection during his many military campaigns: the linothorax. Ostensibly a fairly thin and lightweight garment made of laminated linen, the linothorax turns out to have been the ideal type of armor for ancient battles, according to meticulous research completed by a professor and students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. They built a facsimile of a linothorax, based on images of the armor from ancient artwork, and discovered that a 12 millimeter-thick (.47 inch) linothorax would have been sufficient to stop any arrow fired at the wearer from penetrating the skin. This seemingly simple outfit also offered much more maneuverability and comfort than other types of protection (ie. metal armor), meaning that Alexander was almost always one step ahead of his foes.
What made Alexander so great:
- Alexander the Great won his first battle at age 18, then relied on speed and surprise to defeat armies and build his empire.
- Alexander the Great's only defeat came when he suddenly grew sick and died at the young age of 32; the exact cause has never been determined.
- Alexander the Great named dozens of cities after himself and one after his beloved horse, Bucephalus, which he always rode into battle.