Amazon Women Were Real

Archaeologists uncover a burial site in western Russia
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2020 3:15 PM CST
Updated Jan 1, 2020 3:45 PM CST
Amazon Women Were Real
An ancient Roman mosaic of an Amazon warrior armed with a labrys, engaged in combat with a hippeus; from the 4th century AD.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Tales of warrior women on horseback with bow and arrow—you know, like in Wonder Woman—are looking truer by the day. A new find adds to growing evidence that female warriors really did fight and die on the Eurasian steppes, the Washington Post reports. A team led by archaeologist Valerii Guliaev uncovered a 2,500-year-old tomb with four such women buried alongside spears, arrowheads, and horseback-riding equipment. It's in western Russia, where Ancient Greek lore describes "Amazon" women doing battle with Hercules. Guliaev says they're actually Scythian nomads who lived in small tribes, fought with bow and arrow, and wore trousers for horseback riding, per the Smithsonian.

Other female Scythian remains have turned up before, many with war wounds, but this is the first with multiple generations: a girl around 12 or 13, two women in their 20s, and one around 45 or 50. It's also the first to include a well-preserved golden headdress still on a woman's skull, meaning Guliaev likely uncovered the site before anyone else. It remains unclear whether these women had their own armies or stayed home to protect family and livestock while men fought in far-off wars, per Haaretz. But scientists say the women were definitely fighters, and DNA confirms their gender. "If you think about it, a woman on a horse with a bow, trained since childhood, can be just as fast and as deadly as a boy or man," says author Adrienne Mayor, who wrote a book called The Amazons. (Read more burial site stories.)

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