Tattooed Scythian Warriors, Descendants of the Amazons? Part Two
(Go to Part One). The ancient Scythians, the ones who predate the nomads, worshiped as their main deity not a god but a goddess, the half snake half woman deity known as Tabiti, who coincidentally fits the description of Tagitaos’ mother in the Scythian origin story . She was the Earth Goddess who was said to be the witness of all things, often depicted as a woman with child she travelled with a raven and a wolf.
The Goddess is the most ancient of all deities with depictions dating back over 29000 years BC and her worship held sway until only about four thousand years ago when mankind spiralled into never ending warfare. Her names are almost endless, Anu, Eki, Hathor, Isis, Danu, Cali; the list would go on for pages but they all represented the same thing, the sacred feminine, the great mother. The fact that matriarchal or egalitarian societies might have existed and in fact may have been the norm prior to the ‘historical’ period is now dismissed by most mainstream historians but I contend that they were the norm and they did not die out suddenly. There was a time of transition during which women and men still existed as equals in society and the Amazons are a compelling example of one of these transitions.
Herodotus, with his usual flare, tells a remarkable story of how the Amazons came to be with the Scythians which makes a great deal more sense when one understands that the nomadic Scythians were later arrivals and the Amazons were part of an earlier civilization still existing to the south of the Black Sea but in constant threat from the Greeks as the accounts of many battles suggest. He recounts that after the Battle of Thermodon, several galleys carrying Amazon prisoners were retaken by the captives and the women came ashore in the land of Scythia on the north shore of the Black Sea They engaged some of the Scythians in combat who upon discovering that the dead were actually women decided not to try to kill the newcomers but woo them instead. They eventually approached them unarmed and the two groups decided to merge but not without negotiations. The Amazons refused to live as Scythian women, they would not give up their place in society so their new Scythian husbands agreed and asked for their inheritance to be given them and they left for lands to the northeast. This story seems to tell of a merging of the nomadic Scythians with the earlier matriarchal society and their migration away from the patriarchal societies rising to power to the south and eventually the entire world.
Of course most mainstream historians call the Amazons creatures of myth not because there are not ample records of their battles and individuals but for the reason Strabo the Greek historian put it 2000 years ago, “For who can believe that an army of women, or a city, or a nation, could ever subsist without men? and not only subsist, but make inroads upon the territories of other people, and obtain possession not only of the places near them, and advance as far as the present Ionia, but even dispatch an expedition across the sea to Attica?” Who indeed could believe such a thing? Certainly not the men who have written history but now we have their bodies, women buried with the respect once though only reserved for men and these tattooed women warriors are much harder to call a myth.
In part three I will discuss the Pazyryk tattooed mummies that seem to bring the true Amazon women warrior to life and the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal society in ancient cultures.
J. A. Salmonson, The Encyclopedia of Amazons (1991), ISBN 0385423667
F. G. Bergmann, Les Amazones dans l'histoire et dans la fable (1853)
The Real Scythians of Messopotamia, Fred Hamori, based on a work by Gyula M�sz�ros
The History of Herodotus, George Rawlinson, ed. and tr., vol. 3, Book 4, Chapters 2-36, 46-82. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1885]
Scythians in the Ancient World by Gill, Education About.com Ancient / Classical History Herodotus History Book IV