Did the Amazons that Greek mythology revealed to us exist?

the legendary and fierce warriors who fought in ancient Greece or Persia, shooting an archery while riding a horse, were, indeed, a legend. But, although the reality is probably far removed from the mythical stories, some discoveries and research carried out in recent years could indicate that there really existed, in an area located in the south-west of present-day Russia or in the south of Ukraine, a city where there were female warriors which would have served as the basis for the later narrative. More specifically, it was found fallen down of several women buried with military instruments and that they presented wounds, probably, of war.

Although the story mythological about the Amazons that have come down to us corresponds to Greek mythology, you can find intercultural references, from ancient Persia to Egypt, India or China. The Greeks said that the Amazons were brave, attractive but dangerousand that they cut or cauterized their right breast to better utilize their bow. Supposedly they lived isolated in a women’s colonyneeding no man, in a territory whose capital, according to Herodotus, was Themyscira, a fortified city in what would now be the north turkey.

A Roman sarcophagus depicting a battle involving Amazons, from the 3rd century AD. vs.

PHAS/Getty

But there are small variants in the stories. According to Strabo, the Amazons visited male neighbors every year to procreate, and if they gave birth to a girl, she grew up with them, teaching her to fight. A boy, on the other hand, would be returned to men. In the version of Herodotus the Amazons met and fell in love with scythian men. But they did not want to be confined to domestic life, so they formed a new society in the Eurasian steppe plainsin which there was gender equality and women fought and rode horses like their ancestors.

That, of course, is legend. A story that, on the other hand, the ancients did not believe literally. For some, like the Greek writer Palefato, they did not existbut they were only men confused with women because they shaved beard. For a long time, the Amazons were considered just another myth, with a few exceptions, of course. Like that of Johann Jakob Bachofen, a classical scholar, who in 1861 published a radical thesis: that humanity began under a matriarchy and that the Amazons were real.

Researchers have found necropolises with women who apparently rode horses, carried weapons and may even have died in battle.

Today, with new scientific methods and more advanced technologies, researchers are dismissing the legends but admitting they might have a factual basis. In 1997, archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball published an article analyzing some fallen down found near the border between Russia and Kazakhstan, where skeletons of women had been found buried with weapons. The bones of bow-legged of a 13 or 14 year old girl witnessed a life on horsebackand a tip of The arrow folded in another woman’s body cavity suggested she was dead In the battle.

According to Davis-Kimball, it wouldn’t be the amazonsbecause the region is very far from the ancient Greek world, but they could have belonged to one of the many similar nomadic tribes who has traveled the immensity of Eurasian steppes at the beginning of the Iron Age. Subsequently, Davis-Kimball analyzed other ancient excavations and discovered, thanks to DNA testswhich had women that they had been misidentified as male because of the weapons found with the skeletons.

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An archaeological dig of Scythian tumults in Russia

In December last year, a group led by archaeologist Valerii Guliaev announced the discovery of four female warriors in the southeast of russia. The survey showed that women were scythians, a nomadic people who existed for a thousand years coinciding with the Greek Archaic period – around the 9th or 8th century BC. C.–, and who lived in small communities where it made sense everyone will participate in hunting and war. The pieces would fit together: the Scythian people, in their migrations, even reached present-day Turkey, where, according to mythical history, they participated in the war of Troy .

According to Adrian Majorresearcher at Stanford University and author of Amazons, warriors of the ancient world (Wake up Ferro), the the horses were basic for the Scythians and their nomadic customs, and thanks to them they were able to reach points as far away as the Black Sea or present-day Mongolia. The four women found in eastern Russia were buried 2,500 years ago in a necropolis that has been studied since 2010. More than 30 arrowheads iron, an iron hook in the shape of a bird, fragments of horse harnessknives and various animal bones.

Scythian women could have fought alongside men; there was the basis of the legend of the Amazons

The youngest of them was between 12 and 13 years old when she died. Two others were between 20 and 35 years old, and one of them was buried in pilot position. The eldest, aged between 40 and 45, was buried with a crown of high purity gold. More than a third Scythian women found were buried with weapons and many had war wounds, just like men. For the mayor, although the Scythians fought with men, these are the women which correspond to the descriptions, then mythologized, of the ancient amazons.


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