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The Yanghai burial in northwest China, with the leather scale armor circled in red. (Image credit: Dongliang Xu/Turfan Museum)

About 2,500 years ago, a man in northwest China was buried with armor made of more than 5,000 leather scales, a military garment fashioned so intricately, its design looks like the overlapping scales of a fish, a new study finds.

The armor, which resembles an apron-like waistcoat, could be donned quickly without the help of another person. “It is a light, highly efficient one-size-fits-all defensive garment for soldiers of a mass army,” said study lead researcher Patrick Wertmann, a researcher at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich.

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