For centuries, scholars presumed that Greek myths about strong warrior females they called Amazons were just that– myths.
However new archaeology validates what contemporary historians like Adrienne Mayor from Stanford University had started to think: Amazons were quite genuine, and they were actually Scythian nomads.
Earlier this month in Russia, archaeologists discovered the gravesites of four female warrior females– buried together along with their weapons. Mayor states it’s the very first time archaeologists have found remains of warrior ladies within a variety of ages, from about 45 to 50 years of ages down to about 12 years of ages.
” These 4 females were buddies in warfare, probably died in a skirmish and were buried together,” she states.
Notorious ancient Greek historians never doubted that Amazon ladies existed, she says, however modern historians and scholars haven’t had the ability to track down the myth’s origins and ultimately thought the warriors were products of the Greeks’ creativity.
Historians believed the Amazons discussed in mythology were a variety of things: stand-ins for Persians, invented simply to be butchered by Greek male warriors, or utilized to function as propaganda to oppress Greek women, Mayor says.
” They thought of them as signs of a sort of monstrous women because their lifestyle was the opposite of correct Greek female roles,” she states.
However the brand-new discovery proves otherwise.
” I think all those are sort of questionable,” she states. “Now, naturally, we have compelling evidence that real females living the way of life of Amazons in myth really existed.”
Archaeology Interview Highlights
On the culture of Amazon ladies, who are believed to have been Scythian wanderers 2,500 years ago
” They come from tribes of wanderers, of the steps. They roamed the large area of the area understood in antiquity as Scythia. That was a land stretching from the Black Sea all the way east to Mongolia. The Chinese developed the Great Wall of China to keep them out. So these were strong military tribes. They were the first individuals to domesticate and then ride horses, and they perfected the innovation of the recurve bow. So their lives centered on horses and archery. And they taught young boys and ladies how to ride and shoot from childhood so that everyone in the people could hunt and defend the tribe.”
On how the Greek folklore portrayed Amazon women
” Well, Homer did first explain them in his impressive poem about the Trojan War, the ‘Iliad,’ that was written in about 750 to 650 B.C., and Homer called the Amazons ‘the equates to of men.’ One ancient historian from Greece said that these people in Scythia were so savage that even the women went to war. So there were a number of ancient historians, such as Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. and after that later Strabo and Plato … They never questioned that Amazons actually existed, and they related them to the genuine women of the nomadic people.
” But the misconceptions, we do not know the origin of the misconceptions. They were first documented by Homer. They were the mythic archenemies of the Greeks, the best heroes of misconception– Pericles or Hercules, Theseus, Achilles. They all to show their valor and skills in duels with Amazon queens. And keep in mind all you can just win honor if you fight and defeat a truly effective and strong adversary. So Amazons fit that function. Theseus of Athens, he recorded the Amazon Antiope, brought her back to Greece to be his bride, and after that, according to myth, a substantial Amazon army pledged revenge and they attacked Athens to rescue her. That monumental mythic battle versus the Amazons was Athens’ proudest triumph. They represented images of that hard-won triumph all over in their city, in the Castle and on the guard of Athena. Amazons contributed in the famous Trojan War. As we know, Penthesilea was the queen of the Amazons. She brought a band of female warriors to combat on the side of the Trojans, and she dueled with the Greek champion Achilles. He won, however in the misconception he was sorry for killing such a brave and stunning opponent. And there are vase paintings from the fifth century B.C. that show him eliminating her and after that making eye contact and apparently falling for the dying Amazon.”
On the misconception that the Amazons were so dedicated to their warcraft that they would cut off among their breasts to shoot their bows better
” That is a libel. It’s a fake fact that has stuck like very glue for more than 2,500 years. If people believe they understand anything about Amazons, it’s that supposed fact. That story initially appeared in about 490 B.C. A patriotic Greek historian tried to require a Greek meaning on the word Amazon. Amazon is not a Greek word initially, and it was obtained from some other ancient culture. We do not understand which, however because it sounded a bit like the word for breast– ‘mazos’– and if you put an ‘A’ in front of it, it suggests ‘without.’ So they believed he recommended it implied ‘without breast’ and that required a story. So individuals stated, ‘Well, maybe they cut off one breast so they could draw a bow, shoot arrows.’ And that’s a physiologically silly idea.
” And in reality, it was rejected by other Greek authors in antiquity, and a lot more significantly, not one ancient artist ever bought that concept. All Amazons in Greek and Roman art are double-breasted, and anybody who practices archery understands that breasts are not a limitation.”
On the fascination with Amazon women warriors, like those depicted in the “Wonder Woman” movie
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” Well, the ancient Greeks, they were amazed because it was so different from their own mothers and other halves and children. And the idea that women might be equals of guys was sort of disturbing to them, but also attractive. They had extremely ambivalent sensations about it. I think lots of individuals do today still have ambivalent, combined feelings about that. I sort of think for the ancient Greeks, the stories of those adventurous Amazons that fought their most significant heroes, that sort of provided a type of safe location, an exciting way to imagine equality in between the sexes in a sort of myth.
” I think today, the battles to find balance and harmony between men and females, that’s just universal, you can see it in Greece and Persia and Egypt and China and India in their stories of warrior ladies. And now the reality that we can check out the misconceptions and now understand the truths about an egalitarian culture that not just gives us sort of romantic, thrilling stories about males and females who could be equates to, and now we understand that there was a kernel of truth underlying those stories. I think there’s sort of always been Amazons in misconceptions. Often they’re hidden, sometimes they’re out in full view. Now the historical reality is coming to light and it’s thanks to historical discoveries like the one reported this month.”
This section aired on January 14, 2020.
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