Digital replication and reconstruction of mail armour

Martijn A. Wijnhoven*, Aleksei Moskvin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Digital reconstruction of historical costumes is a broad research area, which brings together archaeology, dress history and digital technologies. Mail armour includes many damaged and sometimes now fragile artefacts which could be reconstructed in virtual reality. However, contemporary methods of digitization were developed for textile clothes and cannot accurately reproduce the draping behaviour and appearance of a mail fabric made from metal rings. This article reports a new method of digital reproduction that uses parameterization, computer-aided design and physically-based rigid body simulation. The object of the reconstruction was the Vimose coat of mail, dating to AD 150–220. Despite being damaged, this garment was preserved well enough to provide initial data for the exploration. Parameterization and parametric 3D modelling software were used to create exact copies of the rings, connect them into a pattern and determine the properties of the mail fabric. The rigid body simulation of 19,123 rings were applied to reproduce the draping behaviour of the mail fabric and put the coat on the mannequin. Digital replicas of the Vimose coat in its original pristine- and current condition were generated, and the similarity between the replicas and the coat was demonstrated. This method provides a new way to obtain important insights on archaeological armour and the preservation of cultural heritage in a digital manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-233
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Early online date25 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Chainmail
  • Computer reconstruction
  • Mail fabric
  • Rigid body simulation
  • The Vimose coat


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital replication and reconstruction of mail armour'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this