Amazon Warrior Discovered in Ancient Armenian Grave
The Kingdom of Urartu flourished in Armenia from the 9th to the 6th centuries BC and this “uncommon developed culture”, according to a new paper, enjoyed comprehensive trading contact with the major empires of the ancient world between the Mediterranean and India, and rivaled them both culturally and in military prowess.
The Kingdom of Urartu, 9th–6th centuries BC. (Citypeek / CC BY-SA 3.0)
In a new study published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, a team of Armenian researchers, led by Dr. Anahit Khudaverdyan of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, reveals exciting new data about an Early Armenian period (8th-6th century BC) skeleton discovered in 2017 in the Bover I necropolis in Lori Province. And it is thought that the remains of this ancient woman are those of a legendary female Amazon warrior.
Myths Of The Pot Smoking, Man Hating, Amazon Warrior Women
According to a 2016 National Geographic article the Amazons fought as hard as male warriors, smoked pot, wore full body tattoos, rode horses, and severed their breasts to allow more accurate firing of their bows! And if you listen to (mostly male) modern scholars they were hard-core, man-hating, lesbian feminists who mutilated and killed their male children.
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Ancient Greek vase showing Amazon warrior riding a horse. (Bibi Saint-Pol / Public Domain)
In reality, however, these myths were addressed by Adrienne Mayor, of Stanford University, in her book The Amazons, who, based on archaeological evidence, revealed the “truly wild” world of these ancient warrior women who were long held to be purely imaginary, mythical, warrior women. These born arch-enemies of the ancient Greeks were fought by every champion of literature from Hercules to Theseus and Achilles, who all had to prove their cunning by fighting a powerful warrior queen.
An Amazon Warrior was as Strong as a Man
And lot of scholars still argue that Amazons were merely fictional, but modern archaeological investigation, like presented in this new paper, has now proven without a doubt that there really were a band of fierce women fitting the Greek descriptions of Amazons.
The team of Armenian archaeologists studying the woman’s bones that were found in the Lori Province, said in their paper that she was in her 20s when she died and her jewelry indicated that she had been a “high-status” female. Furthermore, the woman’s upper body muscle attachments were found to be as strong as a man, indicating to the scientists that she had undertaken considerable work activity, and this further indicated that she might have been a warrior.
Was the Amazon Warrior a Front-Line Archer?
The study shows that “the ancient woman’s pectoral and deltoid muscles had been flexed and adducted at the hand and at the shoulder”, suggesting she was a trained archer repeatedly drawing a bow string across her chest. And the researchers also noted well-developed pronounced gluteal muscles, which are most often associated with military activities, such as horse-riding.
The people of Urartu survived by hunting, military activity, and trading with surrounding nations. The paper says invaders such as the Scythians attempting to conquer the highlands faced serious problems when confronting the highly trained Urartian archers, and it might be the case that this ancient woman had served on the front-line defenses.
Amazon warrior preparing for a battle. (Matanya / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Greek Myths About Amazon Warriors Manifest In Reality
When the woman’s body was inspected an “iron arrowhead” was discovered embedded in her left knee that had healed long before her death, and according to Dr. Khudaverdyan, this injury was made with “home-made weapons”. In addition to this injury, the woman’s left hip and right thigh bone “chop marks” and a “stab wound” was found in her left lower leg, and the fact that the woman suffered so many different kinds of cuts just before her death suggests she had died in battle.
The sheer number of injuries “emphasizes the fact that for this early Armenian female from Bover I, interpersonal violence was an ever-present aspect of life”, the archaeologists write. This burial from Bover I is one of the few examples of what the researchers say is “likely a female warrior”, and Khudaverdyan and colleagues muse that “her type” may have inspired ancient Greek tales of “Amazon warriors”, those fierce warring women believed to have lived in the eastern part of the territory of Asia Minor near to modern-day Armenia.
The Amazon warrior queen, Thalestris, in the camp of Alexander the Great. (Botaurus / Public Domain)
In conclusion, the researchers said, “It seems probable that there were indeed female warriors amongst the tribes of the Caucasus”, and that their ongoing discoveries suggest the subsistence of real women warriors “matching descriptions of Amazons in Greek myths”.
Top image: Amazon warrior. Source: Andrey Kiselev / Adobe Stock.
By Ashley Cowie