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The Fascinating World of the Amazon Warrior Women

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Ravi Shankar Rajan is a software program director who writes on varied subjects from history, archaeology to leadership and poetry.

The Amazon warrior women actually existed and were as formidable as male warriors.

The Amazon warrior women actually existed and were as formidable as male warriors.

The Amazons were a Lie

To begin with, the Amazons were a lie perpetuated by the Greeks and still going strong for the last 2500 years.

And the reason for the lie was just to reiterate the superiority of the males in the patriarchal Greek world. The Greeks wanted a formidable enemy, an enemy who were great warriors, brilliant horsewomen, tattoo lovers, and loved animal-like sex. Legends, myths, and rumors spread like weeds and the Greeks named these ferocious independent women as the Amazons.

And with each passing century, the tales started getting even more fantastic. They cut their right breasts so that the breasts don’t hinder their arrows. They can ride horses like a maniac and can shoot arrows and javelins from moving horses with ease and above all, they were sexy and attractive wearing ornaments and face creams while at the battle as their looks were important to them.

As Hippocrates, usually called the ‘Father of Medicine’ himself writes about them.

“Their women ride horses and shoot arrows and hurl javelins from horseback and they fight in campaigns as long as they remain virgins … They have no right breast since their mothers’ heat a specially made iron [or ‘copper instrument’, for translations vary] and apply it to the breast while they are still children. This prevents the breast from growing, and all the strength and size of it go into the right arm and shoulder instead.”

And the end result in all Greek stories were the same. The Amazons finally lost to the Greek warriors and became their concubines or wives in the end. The Greeks got an ego boost as the Amazons became the ‘submissive, tame’ woman as expected of them.

The Ruthless Women Warriors of the Amazon

The Ruthless Women Warriors of the Amazon

The Myth of the Amazons

The information about these formidable warriors comes from the book Alexander Romance in which the Amazons were first mentioned during Alexander the great’s battles around the Black Sea. During these bloody campaigns, Alexander had received many emissaries from local kings negotiating peace, surrender, or joint military campaigns.

One of those emissaries was Thalestris, a supposed Amazon warrior-queen who had heard about Alexander’s bravery and wanted to mate with him. According to the legend, Thalestris strode boldly into Alexander’s camp with a company of 300 women dressed as warriors and told him to mate with her in order to provide a strong male child for her kingdom.

We don’t know what Alexander’s reaction was, but it was said that he stayed with her for thirteen days and went ahead with other campaigns. However, the story had firmly implanted itself in the Greek mind and the myths around these men-hungry warriors started spreading like fire.

Herodotus, the Greek historian makes some interesting observations about these women in his later writings:

These women are taught the nuances of war since childhood with brutal training imparted in horse-riding, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat. The bow and arrow, the librys (a kind of double-edged axe), and a shield in the shape of a crescent were their main weapons.

And a necessary evil, their right breasts would be burned off by a hot bronze tool to remove all possible hindrances to using a spear or drawing an arrow. In fact, the name ‘Amazon’ comes from the Greek word ‘Amazoi’ which means breast-less.

An Amazon is not allowed to get married but they were free to have sex with any male whom they thought as attractive. These women often took male partners from prisoners of war or slaves to continue their dynasty.

If the female is born, there would be celebrations and she would be groomed into a warrior. When a boy was born, they killed him, blinded him, or if the boy was lucky enough, it was sent away to live with his father.

Herodotus also gives a detailed description of their sexual tendencies. They were supposed to have an animal-like sexuality without any emotions or relationships involved.

Sex was merely a medium either for recreation or for the purpose of getting a female offspring. This aggressive sexual tendency also devotes their hatred for men and showcases their wild and untamed existence.

The Amazons would also avoid any sexual encounters until they proved their worth in war. It was an unwritten rule; an Amazon has to acquire a reputation of a fearsome warrior and only then succumb to the joys of the flesh. Marriage for them was slavery, slavery to a man that was not acceptable.

And at the end of all his stories, Herodotus claims that the valiant Greek warriors always ‘tamed’ the Amazons, however fearsome they can be. It was a blatant advertisement of the Greek vainglory against the weaker, subjugated race of women.

The Real Amazons were Different

In the early 1990s when a joint U.S.-Russian team of archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery in Pokrovka, a remote Russian outpost in the southern Ural Steppes near the Kazakhstan border.

They found the graves of women buried with their weapons, iron daggers, bronze-tipped arrows, and intricately crafted headgear. The women were tall for their time with the average height being 5 feet 6 inches.

There were also heavy war injuries on their arms, legs, and heads devoting their deep involvement in wars. And along with the weapons, good looks were also important for these women as cosmetic bags with face brushes, eyeliners, bronze mirrors and earrings, pectorals, and beads were also found.

They were the real Amazons, the women who were not only brave and resourceful but were also beautiful in their own right. The Greeks called them the Scythians and to their patriarchal mindsets, these women would have appeared strange aberrations riding horses, fighting neck-to-neck with males, and doing all the things that a ‘proper’ Greek woman isn’t supposed to do. These women lived in a society that was far more equal than their Athenian contemporaries.

And yet another myth got dispelled; these women had both the breasts intact and had a thriving family life with husband, kids, and property.

The bottom line: don’t waste time searching for the mythical Amazons, rather create an equal society where Amazons can coexist, thrive, and contribute. Every woman can be an Amazon if she wants to.

Sources

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:

The fascinating story of the Amazons warrior women

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 20, 2021:

Thanks Rosina for your comments.

Rosina S Khan on February 20, 2021:

Ravi, this is an intriguing bit of history regarding Amazon women. I am spellbound reading about them. Thanks for the splendid share.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 19, 2021:

Thanks Bill.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2021:

I watched a documentary a few months ago about the Amazon women. Fascinating information in that and in this. Thank you for the education.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 19, 2021:

Thanks, Devika. They were really existing but their existence was wrapped up in so many layers of myth, rumors, and misinformation that their real bravery was lost in the annals of history.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 19, 2021:

ravirajan01 You have an interesting idea for a hub. I am fascinated by this information. I had no idea of the Amazon warrior women, and you enlightened me in detail. Thank you

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 19, 2021:

Thanks, MG. The Amazons were indeed an aberration in the ancient world as they held their own in a Greek male-dominated world.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 19, 2021:

This is a very interesting article about the subject that is very intriguing that is the Amazon warrior women. They must've been a special breed. Thanks for sharing.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on February 18, 2021:

Thanks Vanita.

Vanita Thakkar on February 18, 2021:

Very informative and interesting article. I didn't know about these Amazon women. Something new in it about women and their social backgrounds, as also about the myths and facts. Thanks for sharing.

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