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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 Some say they were from the Sarmatian culture, who according to historical references were a people of ancient Iranian origin, who were of an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly on the Iranian plateau and beyond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 majorbranch 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 2 3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krasnodar_Krai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vistula_River 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.”
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodotus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians 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 allfemale 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 8 9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnonym http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontus 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 longtraveled 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
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.
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.  
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iobates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellerophon 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
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 19 20 21 22
Megara (Greek: Μέγαρα) is an ancient city (pop. 23,032 in 2001) in Attica, Greece. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaeronea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalcis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thessaly 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 .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiramis 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.