The Amazons – members of an ancient nation of women warriors from Greek mythology who roamed a vast area around the Black Sea known as Scythia – were they real? Or were they figures as fictional as other characters in mythology?
Well, initially, some modern historians assumed that the Amazons, first documented by the poet Homer. in the eighth century BC, they were purely the fruit of a literary fantasy . However, in the 1990s, archaeologists began to unearth skeletons of ancient women, who had been buried in tombs designed especially for warriors who inhabit the same region where the bodies were found.
According to Adrienne Mayor, a researcher at the Department of Classics and the History of Science Program at Stanford University, California, United States, some of the skeletons that were found in recent years by archaeologists had signs of wounds caused by combat. “Basically, many of the bodies had been pierced by built-in arrowheads and some were even buried with weapons that resembled the ones the Amazons supposedly held.”
Thanks to archeology, we now know that Amazonian myths, once considered mere fantasy, are real. Most bodies contain precise details and it is through these details that we discover that the bodies are of nomadic women from the steppes, who were the historical counterparts of the mythical Amazons.
“These nomadic warriors were part of an ancient group of tribes known as the Scythians, masters of riding and archery, and they lived in a vast territory in the Eurasian steppe, which stretched from the Black Sea to China, between 700 BC and 500 dC”, highlighted the researcher to Foreign Affairs magazine, in 2015.
The Scyths, according to the British Museum, were highly radical, so much so that they carried on their shoulders the reputation of drinking excessive amounts of undiluted wine (unlike the Greeks, who mixed wine with water), fermented milk and used natural narcotics. Interestingly, Scythian societies were not exclusively formed by women, as Greek mythology exposes and, according to experts, the warrior essence of some Scythian women – not all – was born only after they joined men, both in hunting and in the battle.
“It’s encouraging to know that girls and women in the steppes have learned to ride horses and shoot arrows like their brothers,” Mayor told Live Science. “As the societies of this nation always have a small group that moved through the harsh steppes, under constant threat from enemies, today it makes perfect sense for all members to help in defense and incursions, regardless of age or gender.”
“So far, archaeologists have identified more than 300 remains of female warriors buried with their horses and weapons, and more and more are discovered each year,” Mayor reported.
The researcher also recalls “that the Citas were not the only group to have women participating in war and hunting, and the Greeks were not the only ones to tell stories about Amazons and women like them”.
“There have always been emotional stories – some imaginary and some based in reality – about women like Amazons from ancient Rome, Egypt, North Africa, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, Central Asia, India and China,” explained Mayor. “And women who went to war existed in other cultures around the world, from Vietnam to the Viking lands and in Africa and the Americas.”
Amazon River, South America
The influence of women warriors crossed geographical boundaries. The name of the Amazon River, for example, is closely related to these women’s stories. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Spanish soldier Francisco de Orellana – credited as the first European to explore the Amazon in 1541 – named the river after being attacked by female warriors, which he compared to mythological Amazon warriors, who , now, we know as Scyths.