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Kanook –Tlingit Nation

March – 2010

As one that dibbles and dabbles from time to time walking through the pages of
time I found a incidental reference to a battle fought in the ancient world where a
cadre of women warriors were mentioned, being the person I think I am, I was off
and running to learn a little more than I did about these fierce warriors and their
culture.
Some say they were from the Sarmatian culture, who according to historical
references were a people of ancient Iranian origin, who were of an ethnic and
linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly on the Iranian plateau and
beyond in central, southern, and southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe. Their
languages are predominantly defined as them speaking Iranian languages, a major-
branch of the Indo-European language family.

Iranian Plateau / Persian Plateau


The Iranian/Persian plateau in geology refers to a geographical area north of the
great folded mountains belts which are a result of the collision of the Arabic plate
with the Eurasian plate. In this, the Iranian plateau does not cover southwestern
Iran, extending from East Azerbaijan Province in
northwest Iran (“Persia”) to southern Afghanistan
and Pakistan including smaller sections of the
Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
Its mountain ranges can be divided into five major
sub-regions:
Northwestern Iranian Plateau where the (1)
Pontus and (2)Taurus mountains converge, is
a rugged country with higher elevations a
more severe climate, and greater precipitation
than are found on the Anatolian Plateau. The
region is known as the (3) Anti-Taurus, and
the average elevation of its peaks exceeds
9.830’, this region includes Mount Ararat (16,854 feet) the highest point in
Turkey. (4) Lake Van is situated in the mountains at 5,072 feet. (5)
Southeast Anatolia lies south of the Anti-Taurus mountains, a region of rolling
hills and a broad plateau that extends into Syria with elevation that decrease
slowly from 2,600 feet in the north to about 1,500 feet in the South.
The headwaters of three major rivers come out of the Anti-Taurus region, the east
flowing Aras River which finds in end at the Caspian Sea, the south-flowing
Euphrates and Tigris which join in Iraq before ending in the Persian Gulf, in addition
there are several smaller streams that empty into the Black Sea and the landlocked
Lake Van.
The Sarmatian culture is said at one time to have stretched from the Hindu Kush
to central Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, a region that is
sometimes referred to as Greater Iran, where there region was eventually
established north of the Black Sea. It is estimated that they settled in the Ural
Mountains around the 50th Century B.C. and moved settling in most southern
European, today Russia, the Ukraine and the eastern Balkans. At their greatest
extent, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube,
southward to the shores of the Black and Caspian seas, including the region
between them as far as the Caucasus Mountains. Their most valued artifacts were
found in tombs in the Krasnodar Krai1 of Russia.
During the 100 B.C. Sarmatian land ranged from the Barents Sea or Baltic Sea
(“Oceanus Sarmaticus”) to a tributary of the Vistula River2, to the Carpathian
Mountains3, to the mouth of the Danube, then eastward along the northern coast of
the Black Sea, across the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and north along the Volga up
to the polar circle (Arctic Circle).

1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krasnodar_Krai
2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vistula_River
3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpathian_Mountains
Herodotus4, in the 5th Century BC describes the Sarmatians’ as blond, stout and
tanned, basically as the Scythians5 and Thracians6 and living east of the Tanais,
beginning at the corner of the Maeotian Lake.

From this culture we find the rise of the Sarmatian “Matriarchy”, a seldom found
female status in European countries, and from this Matriarchy some maintain spring
the Amazon Women, and as reported by Herodotus a most “fascinating” feature of
their culture, He theorizes that this group of super women were the offspring of
Scythians who had mated with the females of the Sarmatian tribes back in time and
that their descendants, “have continue from that day to the present to observe their
ancient Amazon customs , frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands; in
war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men.” He also
reported that it is their custom that “No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in
battle.”

4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodotus
5
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians
6
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thracians
Hippocrates writes, "They [Sarmatian women] have no right breasts...for while
they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for
this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth
is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right
arm."
The “Amazons” according to Classical and Greek mythology were a nation of all-
female warriors, albeit Herodotus places them within the
Sarmatian tribe other historians and historiographers place
them Asia Minor or Libya, whereas “Ancient Libya” was the
region west of the Nile Valley generally corresponding to
modern Northwest Africa.
The origin of the word “Amazon” is as much of a mystery
as the female-warriors themselves, where some say it may
be a spin-off or the Iranian ethnonym7 (ha-mazan – warriors)
found in the glossary of Hesychius of Alexandria as
hamazakaran (to make war-Persian), whereas an alternative
word used the Greeks was ṇ-mṇ-gw-jon-es (manless –
without husbands). Hjalmar Frish of 19 th Century
scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym
Amazigh, which connects them to the Berbers in Ancient
Libya. Additional Classical Greek it is found that Amazon
was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos or (without
breast), this connected with their popular tradition that the
Amazons had their right breast cut off or burnt out, thus making it easier to use a
bow more freely and effectively and also increasing their ability to throw spears
without any physical limitation and obstruction, albeit there has been no indication
of this practice in the works of art found, where the Amazons most always are
represented with both breast, albeit the left is frequently covered. The well known
queen Penthesilea statute can be found in the East façade or the Cour Carrée in the
Louvre in Paris.
With a loose reference to Herodotus texts, the Amazons were supposed to have
migrated from the Lake Maeotis (Sea of Azov) early in history, moving across the
south side of the Black Sea to a region known as Pontus8, which is said to have as
its original inhabitants the “Leucosyri” a named coined by Strabo a Greek writer
who lived from 64 BC to 24 AD, suggesting that he believed the people of the region
were of the white race, most today believe his conclusion was wrong. Today, it is
believed, with strong supporting evidence that the “early” civilizations of Anatolia
(Turkey) were Khoisan African9, and the Grimaldi (The First Homo-Sapien-Sapien in

7
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnonym
8
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontus
9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan
Europe)10, who had migrated through the Levant. It is noted that the “Hatti”11 who
inhabited the land in present-day central and southeastern parts of Turkey between
2500-2000/1700 BC in the early and middle Bronze Age. Some suggest that they
were the original “advanced civilization” of Anatolia – ruling a Kingdom in Central
Anatolia that consisted of several small city-states. Their language is “extinct” and
little is known of it, but some maintain it could have been Sumerian, largely
because there are indications of Mesopotamian influence on Hatti art and culture.
Their primary cities were Mahmatlar, Horoztepe, Alacahoyuk and Hattus – and their
icons are derived from nature/animalistic origin depicting various aspects of nature
in the form of animals.
The future home of the Amazons was along the banks of Thermodon River (the
Terme river in modern Turkey) where they established the Kingdom center the city
of Themiscyra, it is in this independent Kingdom that was led by Hippolyta or
Hippolyte (one of the same) where as their queen built an impressive Kingdom in
the land of men. Where at this time, the fortunes of time has removed the female
as a ruling entity from most records of man.
According to history she first appears in the (myth)-(records, you and I have
discussed myths in previous text whereas I maintain that certain aspects of our
global history was passed from generation to generation through story telling…as
time progressed and our society learned the art of writing, some of these records
were labeled “Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan” accounts - ?) regardless, she first
walks into our written world through an encounter she has with the King of Athens,
Theseus, who was accompanied by Hercules on his quest against the Amazons,
actually to steal Hippolytas’ magic girdle which Hercules had been sent after by the
daughter of King Eurystheus, Admeta.
Upon Theseus arrival the Amazons expecting no problems and as such Hippolyta
went aboard his ship bearing gifts, well once aboard Theseus being naturally a long-
traveled Greek and a man from a superior white background abducted her and
made her his wife. In other words, once again being a Greek he raped her, and
once he found out she was pregnant carried her off back home to see his
magnificent results mature. This brazen act by Theseus sparked what is called an
Amazonomachy, known in Greek texts as a great battle between the civilized
societies of the Greeks and the Barbarian race on the southern shores of the Black
Sea, it is during this battle that Hercules and Theseus demonstrate their strength
and win-the-day.
Eventually Hippolyta produced a son, Hippolytus, for Theseus where soon after
(hours I’d imagine, him being a Greek) she was discarded in favor of Phaedra 12, the

10
http://www.realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Prehistoric_Art/Grimaldi.htm
11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hattians
12
Though married to Theseus, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, Theseus' son born by
either Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, or Antiope, her sister. According to some sources,
Hippolytus had spurned Aphrodite to become a devotee of Artemis and Aphrodite made
Phaedra fall in love with him as a punishment. He rejected her. Alternatively, Phaedra's
nurse told Hippolytus of her love, and he swore he would not reveal her as a source of
daughter of Minos (king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa), who he married.
Dumped by Theseus she went back to the Amazons leaving her son to deal with his
new stepmother – some Greek sources for whatever reason state that Hippolyta
was dead before he married Phaedra, while other scoff and point to the coloring of
local history by the Greeks, comparing them to the coloring of history by the
Hebrews (Jews) to fit an occasion or event.
The girdle of Hippolyta that Hercules sought was a waist belt from her father Ares
(God of War) that signified the Queens authority as the Queen of the Amazons. In
one rendition of her eventual death, (there are three) it is Hercules which
apparently shows up on the Amazons shores (after the episode with Theseus), and
that once again (we’re asked to believe, remember this is a Greek story) she trips
on down to his galley and agreed that he could take the girdle – and Hera (the
stepmother of Hercules and hated him with a passion) leaves her high and mighty
position (wife of Zeus) on Mt Olympus rushes down to the region disguised as one of
their own and ran through the land, screaming at the top of her lungs that Hercules
meant to kidnap the queen – and naturally remembering the treatment their queen
had received from Theseus they all charged toward the ship to save Hippolyta. Now
Hercules, being the good guy, feared that Hippolyta had betrayed him and killed
her, ripped the girdle from her lifeless body, and set sail, narrowly escaping the
raging female warriors.
Now I ask you, it is only if you’re a wide-eyed Greek sitting on a marble step with a
bottle or two of grape squeezings by your side would you believe this accounting of
her death…I mean come on people, here is a Queen (which is no easy position to
achieve) fooled by a muscles between the ears man from “Greece” into giving him
the one thing that tells the world she is the Queen of the Amazons, and then the
“muscles between the ears gentleman” when he hears a bunch of screaming
women coming slays the Queen and makes off with the belt of authority…no
wonder their budget is in trouble.
Another story surfaces that tells us that Hippolytas’
death is a result of Thesus’s marriage to Phaedra,
whereas Hippolyta after going home returns with an
Army of ferocious Amazons and storms into the
wedding and declares that anyone partaking in the
sacred ceremony of the Greeks would die, in the
ensuing skirmish she is killed as told by the Greeks by

information. In revenge, Phaedra wrote Theseus a letter that claimed Hippolytus raped her.
Theseus believed her and cursed Hippolytus with one of the three curses he had received
from Poseidon. As a result, Hippolytus' horses were frightened by a sea monster and
dragged their rider to his death. Alternatively, after Phaedra told Theseus that Hippolytus
had raped her, Theseus killed his son and Phaedra committed suicide out of guilt for she had
not intended for Hippolytus to die. Artemis later told Theseus the truth. In a third version,
Phaedra simply told Theseus this and did not kill herself; Dionysus sent a wild bull which
terrified Hippolytus' horses.
her sister Penthesileia in an accident or by Theseus’s men, it is not really clear but
some say from antiquity that it was most certainly not by Theseus because of his
deep respect for the female of the species – again I hit the floor laughing.
Another story says the Penthesilea kills her with a spear accidently when they are
out hunting deer, here we have an accident happening because of an inexperienced
warrior killing her sister, again a Greek rendition demonstrating their contempt for
anyone being a warrior other than the mighty Greeks. As yourself, if the Greeks
were the greatest why were they constantly fighting their neighbors. It is said, that
because of this accidental death, Penthesilea is ridden with so much grief that she
wished to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she was required to do so
honorably and had to die in a battle – therefore she is easily convinced to join in the
Trojan War on the side of the defenders against the Greeks, more than likely there
existed very little good blood between the Amazons and the Greeks in the first
place.
It is recorded, again in myths that no men were permitted to have sexual
encounters or reside in Amazon country; but that once a year, in order to continue
their blood line the Amazons visited Gargareans13, a neighboring tribe. Whereas in
some accounts it is said that the male children were either killed, sent back to their
fathers or exposed to the wilderness to fend for themselves. Other accounts relate
that when these fierce women went to war they would not kill all the men, taking
some of them slaves and had sex with them once or twice a year. The Greeks
(Homer) referred to them as “Antianeira” (those who fight like men) in his epic the
Iliad…all in all, in mythology they were referred to as a never back down fighting
force.
They are said to have invaded Lycia a region in Anatolia, where today are the
provinces of Antalya and Mugla on the southern coast of Turkey. In ancient times it
was a federation of ancient cities and later a province of the Roman Empire. The
Lycian League was the first federation in the recorded history of the world that
practices democratic principles, which is said to later influence the composition of
the Constitution of the United States of American.
The King of Lycia Iobates14, who having an extreme dislike for the man
Bellerophon15, a hero of the Greeks before Hercules time, sent him into battle
against the Amazons, hoping that these warrior women would slay him somehow,
he was disappointed as Bellerophon defeated their attack. Another Queen Myrine,
who it is said was the queen of the North African Libyan (Gorgon) Amazons, led her
Amazons to victory against Libyan and much of Gorgon16 culture.

13
The Gargareans (or Gargarenses, Greek: Γαργαρείς) were an all-male tribe. They had
sex with the Amazons annually in order to keep both tribes reproductive. Varying accounts
suggest that they may have been kidnapped, raped, and murdered for this purpose, or that
they may have had relations willingly. The Amazons kept the female children, raising them
as warriors, and gave the males to the Gargareans. [1] [2]
14
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iobates
15
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellerophon
16
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorgon
The Amazons from the Black Sea also attacked the Phrygians, a kingdom in the
west central part of Anatolia. The Phrygians were initially from the southern
Balkans; this according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges changing it to
Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia via the Hellespont. In their attack
against Phrygia they were assisted by Priam, who was the king of Troy during the
Trojan War and the youngest son of Laomedon, then a young man. Albeit in his
later years, towards the end of the Trojan War the Phrygians took his side against
the Greeks, fighting under the leadership of Penthesilea who is said was killed by
Achilles.
Penthesileia at the time was the Queen of the Amazons, and the sister of now
dead Hippolyta, and Antiope, Lysippe, and Melanippe all girls the offspring of Ares,
who a major deity and a member of the 12-Olympians, son of Zeus and Hera, and is
sometimes referred to as the God of Bloodlust. Their mother was Otrera, the Queen
of the Amazons before her daughter Hippolyta and as well as being the “consort” of
Area was his daughter as well, she is often referred to as the founder of the Temple
of Artemis in Ephesus – which was closely connected with the Amazons – many
consider her the founder of the Amazon nation – albeit many other accounts place
other Amazons before her.
In more than one account Penthesileia is said to have been killed by Achilles
during the Trojan as told to us in the Epitome of the Bibliotheke, where it is said that
Achilles “who fell in love with the Amazon after her death and killed Thersites
(commoner in the Iliad) for jeering at him.” Common interpretation tells us that
Achilles was deeply enamored of Penthesilea to a point that the throne of Zeus at
Olympia bore a painted image by Panaenus that showed the dying Penthesilea
being supported by Achilles.
It is said, referring back to Thersites who had jeered at Achilles’s treatment of
Penthesilea’s body, “When the roughneck was at last killed by Achilles, for mocking
the hero’s lament over the death of the Amazon Queen Penthesilea, a sacred feud
was fought for Thersites’ sake”. Now Diomedes, the cousin of Thersites was a bit
upset, he harnessed Penthesilea’s corpse behind his chariot, dragged it and cast it
into the Scamander (Karamenderes River) however it was retrieved and given a
decent burial, it is not know if it was Achilles or by other Trojans.
Penthesilea in Battle Trojan War

After this time, the Amazons are said to have advanced an expedition against the
Island of Leuke (Snake Island), at the mouth of the Danube, where it is said that the
ashes of Achilles had been laid to rest by Thetis 17. Reportedly the ghost of the dead
hero appeared and terrified the horses, that they threw and trampled the invaders
who were forced to retire – the size of the Island leads one to believe that obviously
there were not too many who had invaded.
They are again heard of during the campaign of Alexander the Great, where some
of his biographers make mention of one Amazonian Queen Thalestris who is said to
have brought over 300 women to his forces, hoping to breed a race of children as
strong and intelligent as he. According to legend, she stayed with the Macedonian
King for 13-days and nights in the hope that the great warrior would father a child
by her. This legend has been disputed by those such as Plutarch, whereas in his
writings he mentions when Alexander’s secondary naval commander, “Onesicritus”
in reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history of King Lysimachus of
Thrace who was on the original expedition the King smiled and remarked, “And
where was I, then?”
According to Plutarch, Theseus, and Pausanias, Amazon tombs could be found
frequently throughout what was known as ancient Greece – where some were found

17
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thetis
in Megara18, Athens, Chaeronea19, Chalcis20, Thessaly21 at Scotussa, in
Cynoscephalae (Battle of Cynoscephalae) and statues of Amazons are all over
Greece. Whereas at both Chalcis and Athens, Plutarch tells his readers that there
was an Amazoneum or shrine of Amazons that implied the presence of both tombs
and cult. It is recorded that in earlier times, Greek maidens of Ephesus22 (on the
west coast of Turkey) performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields
that had been established by Hippolyta and her Amazons and that on the day
before the Thesea at Athens there were annual sacrifices to the Amazons.
Within the Greek art, battles between the Amazons and the Greeks are placed on
the same level as and often associated with battle between Greeks and Centaurs –
in other words the Greek armies being defeated a time or two by these fierce ladies
had to project them as being “unnatural”, otherwise how is it even in the days of
yore that man could have been defeated by a female of the species, not hardly! A
practice that has continued on down through the ages, the rewriting or coloring of
history, to fit the male of the species.

That they were proficient at hunting and war is a given, as with their tools of war
there were not too many that could survive their bows, spears, axes, a half-shield,
(pelta), their flowing hair shielded with a specially designed helmet – the Greeks
naturally picked for their model as a snapshot of them the goddess Athena, but in
later art they resemble more the model of Artemis, wearing a thin dress, girt high
for speed, while on the later painted vases their dress is often peculiarly “Persian”,
which is close fitting trousers and a high-cap called the kidaris.
They were usually pictured on horseback, with a few visuals showing them on foot
– in vase painting they can be identified as wearing just one earring. The battle
between Theseus and the Amazons (Amazonomachy) is a favorite on the friezes of
temples, such as the frieze of the temple of Apollo at Bassae, now resting in the
British Museum (who are known to have stolen more art work than any other
civilization known to mankind), vases and sarcophagus reliefs; at Athens it was
represented on the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenos, on wall-paintings in the
Theseum and in the Stoa Poikile – and there were also three standard Amazon
statue types.

18
Megara (Greek: Μέγαρα) is an ancient city (pop. 23,032 in 2001) in Attica, Greece.
19
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaeronea
20
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalcis
21
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thessaly
22
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus
Their exploits were also noted by Rome, whereas Caesar reminded the Senate of
the conquest of large parts of Asia by Semiramis 23 and the Amazons – successful
Amazon raids against Lycia and Cilicia contrasted with effective resistance by
Lydian Amazonian cavalry against the invaders noted by “Strabo 24”and “Nicholas
Damascenus25”. Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus where he relates that they came from a
Cappadocian colony of two Scythian princes “Ylinos” and “Scolopetos” is his
creation, while another Philostratus places then in the Taurus Mountains with
Ammianus placing the east of the Tanais, as neighbors of the Alans, which is not the
first reference to their close relationship with the tribe of Alans. Procopius places
them in the Caucasus, and out in left field we find a reference in the Bibliotheca
Historica (chapter 49) that states they came from Atlantis and located them in
western Libya (Africa), Philostratus also notes the account of Hercules defeating the
Amazons at Themiscyre. Albeit Strabo displays his skepticism as to their value in
history, the Amazons in general continue to be taken as the genuine historical tribe
in Late Antiquity. Under Lucius Domitius Aurelianus, captured Gothic women were
identified as Amazons, while several church leaders speak of the Amazons as real
people. Medieval authors continued a tradition of placing them in the North, while
Adam of Bremen placed them near the Baltic Sea and Paulus Diaconus in the heart
of Germania.
It appears that a great many historians, now and in yesteryear don’t doubt that
there wa a legitimate tribe of warrior women named the Amazons, yet many find it
strange that wherever the Amazons are located by the Greeks (and other
civilizations), be it the Black Sea in the distant north-east, or in Libya in the furthest
south, it seems they are always beyond the confines of the then civilized world – in
other words they existed outside of the “normal” human experience.
Now I know where “Wonder Woman” came from .

23
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiramis
24
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strabo
25
Greek historian and philosopher; friend of King Herod the Great; born at Damascus, where his
father, Antipater, filled high offices and was greatly respected (Suidas, s.v. Ἄντίπατρος); died at Rome.
Being the heir to his father's honors and wealth, Nicholas was not obliged to take service under any
prince, and since he was a philosopher he did not attach great value to money.

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