Scale armor on the North American frontier: Lessons from the John G. Bourke armor

Peter Bleed, Lindsay Long, Jessica Long, Madeleine Roberg, David J Killick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In 1870, as he was starting his career as a frontier army officer and anthropologist, John Bourke collected a gorget composed of iron scales and the story that it was a relic of early Spanish exploration of the Plains. This paper describes the Bourke armor and assesses its manufacture, history, and cultural context. The origins of the armor remain uncertain, but it seems unlikely that it arrived during initial Spanish explorations of the Plains. The armor probably dates from before the early nineteenth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-222
Number of pages24
JournalPlains Anthropologist
Issue number235
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015



  • armor
  • frontier trade
  • Plains warfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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