Archaeologists In Maryland Unearthed A Piece Of Metal Armor That Was Brought To The New World By The First European Colonists During The Mid-1600s

Kevin Ruck - - illustrative purposes only

At a 17th-century settlement in Maryland, a scrap of metal thought to have once been part of a suit of armor was uncovered. The discovery was made during excavations of a cellar located in St. Mary’s City, a town in Maryland that was founded in 1634 by European colonists.

The site was the first settlement to be established in Maryland and the fourth settlement in British North America.

The metal slab was slightly concave and was “about the size of a cafeteria tray.” According to Travis Parno, the director of research and collections at Historic St. Mary’s City, an outdoor archaeological museum, the scrap of metal initially appeared to be a “small piece of iron sticking out of the ground.”

As researchers dug deeper, they revealed more of the item. They suspected that the metal chunk could be from a piece of armor, but their theory wasn’t confirmed until tests were run.

After conducting X-rays, they identified the object as a tasset, which was a piece of armor that hung from the breastplate and protected the upper thighs of a person in battle.

“Seeing the X-ray image of it really brought it to life,” Parno said. “We could see the individual bands of steel affixed together and the rivets decorating the piece.”

Originally, there would have been two of them—one for each leg. It is unclear who exactly wore the plate of armor, but researchers know for certain that the first European colonists brought it over to the New World in the mid-1600s when they established St. Mary’s City.

The colonists likely abandoned the tasset because the heavy protective piece was suffocating and impractical in a hot climate with high humidity. The find suggested that the colonists were making hands-on decisions about what to keep in their stash of military gear.

The archaeological project at St. Mary’s City began in 2021 and is still ongoing. Since then, many artifacts have been discovered at the site.

Kevin Ruck – – illustrative purposes only

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