Armour found by archaeologists in China may be the most ancient found in the nation with experts estimating the bronze pieces are 3,000 years old.
The items of thigh and upper body armour were discovered in the China's Shaanxi Province. The artefacts were taken from a nobleman's tomb dating back to the time of the West Zhou Dynasty between 1046 BC and 771 BC in Baoji City's Shigushan Mountain.
Liu Junshe, who led the excavation team, said the armour helped them to piece together information about a gap in early military history of China. Liu said few pieces of armour made before 221 BC have been found before.
Liu said that for a long time historians had wondered what kind of material the armour of the famous Terracotta Warriors in China would have been made of. But these latest discoveries pre-date the underground army by hundreds of years.
The item of thigh armour, known as a cuisse, is 29cm long and tube-shaped. Two pieces to protect the upper body, called cuirass, had mortises to connect to each other or to other parts of the armour made of leather. They measured 23.5 by 10 cm and 40 by 21 cm.
The tomb also included a range of weapons made of bronze and some sacrificial objects, leading historians to conclude the person buried in the tomb may have been an aristocrat of high rank and a general. Farmers uncovered the tomb cluster in Shigushan Mountain in 2012.
Another of the tombs included a wine vessel containing the most ancient wine ever discovered in China.
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