By Della Purgerson
Beautiful and fearless, these women warriors functioned as rulers, priestesses, warriors and domestics in their nomadic society. There have been many speculations, myths and tales of great women warriors. The variation of stories about women warriors range from the stories of Amazons being oiropatas, man-killerrs, to women warriors such as Boudicca, Icenian warrior queen that set fire to London. With such diversity in the history of the Amazon women, who wouldn’t find them extremely interesting? Well maybe not the men of those days! But I sure do.
Penthesilea leading the Amazons - Christine de Pisan - c 1460
Looking at the findings of Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball, who spent five years excavating more than 150 women warrior burial mounds of 5th century B.C. nomads, there is more than enough evidence that these beautiful women warriors did exist. Dr. Davis-Kimball states, “Women priestesses, warriors, and hearth women were given positions of prominence in burial mounds and depicted in cave paintings as substantially larger and more powerful than men.” (Davis 73) During the excavations, Dr. Davis-Kimball discovered many of the women were buried with ordinary household items, weapons for both men and women, religious and cultic items and some were even buried in religious clothing. This suggests that these women retained powerful positions within their clan. Although the legendary Amazon Women were known to be man-killers that lived only amongst other women, Dr. Davis-Kimball found no physical evidence for a tribe of women warriors living independently of men, at least not at the excavation site near Pokrovka, Russia . There was a tribe of Amazons was believed to have been taken captive by the Greeks. These women were put on board ships and set to sea, where ultimately they murdered the entire crew. Without knowledge of how to sail, they managed to floundered until they landed by the cliffs of the Scythians. There they overtook many villages by fighting the people and stealing the horses. When the Scythians figured out that the warriors they were fighting were women, they managed to communicate to the women that they were willing to mate and impregnate them to ensure survival. The Amazons didn't resist, but encouraged the process. This was complicated by a language barrier and custom differences. In time, the men showed interest for the women to become their wives. The Amazons, knowing that they couldn't live within the Scythian patriarchy, insisted the men leave their native land and start a new life in the manner they were accustom to the Scythian men obliged and they set out and established several new villages. “These new clans were known as the Sauromataes, who spoke a version of Scythian adapted by the Amazons.” (Kimball)
In their dress and style of living the Massagetai resemble the Scythians or more so the Sauromataes. They fought both on horseback and on foot, neither was strange to them. These women used bows and lances, but their favorite weapon was the battle-axe. They wore cuirasses made of either of gold or brass. They carried bow and arrows, spears and battle-axes made from brass. They made head-gear, belts, and girdles, from gold. To protect their horses in battle, they gave them breastplates made from brass, with gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They used brass and gold because it was in abundance, hey had no iron or silver. They were married as husband and wife, but most of the hunting and fighting was done by the women. “When the husbands grew old and became unable to provide mating for the women, the wives would kill the husbands, boil their bodies, and if killed in good health, they would eat the remains.” (Arkenberg 28) The bronze age in the Netherlands
Haute Marne, bronze cuirass for a woman -11th - 8th century B.C.
The Hittites of the Bronze-age, these women held high religious...
Cited: "Ancient Greek Civilizations." 3 Dec. 2005 .
Arkenberg, J. S. The History of Her. 3rd ed. New York: Dutton & Co., 1982.
Davis-Kimball, Jeannine, and Mona Behan. Warrior Women. San Diego: Zinant P, 1998.
Kimball, J., comp. "Nomads, Women Warriors." The Center for the study of Eurasian Nomads. 29 July 2001. 23 Nov. 2005 .
"The Amazons of Lemnos." 19 Nov. 2005. 1 Dec. 2005 .
Wakeman, Lyon. An Uncommon Soldier. New York: Regiment P, 1993.
Wilde, Lyn W. On the Trail of Women Worriors. New York: St. Martin 's P, 2000.
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