Amazons and Warrior Women

the-battle-of-the-amazons

The Battle of the Amazons (1600).  Peter Paul Rubens.

1.  Introduction

The Amazons were a fabled nation of warrior women, a fabulous race of warlike women who were always located on the borders of the known ancient world. The Amazons were eventually associated with a number of historical peoples in Late Antiquity. They were called androktones or ‘killers of men’ by Herodotus and he also stated they were called oiorpata or ‘killers of men’ in the Scythian language. Onwards from the Early Modern Period their name has become synonymous with women warriors in general. In Scythia the existence of women warriors has been confirmed archaeologically.

The Amazons were regarded by the Greeks as inhabiting the regions around Scythia or modern Turkey. The Amazons lived therefore on the north coast of Asia. According to Herodotus , who described the Amazons in the 5th century BC, their capital was Themiscyra from whence they invaded Thrace, the Aegean islands, Greece, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Libya at various times. Aeschylus located them at Themiscyra on the Thermoda  (now modern Terme in Turkey), whereas Pliny placed them on the Tanais (River Don), and Strabo had them at the Carpathian Gates. The legendary gates were allegedly built by Alexander the Great as a barrier at Derbent in the Russian Caucasus. Alternatively there is Alexander’s Wall on the southeast shore of the Caspian Sea.

2.  Etymology

The common explanation of the word Amazon is of doubtful etymology. The usual explanation is ‘without breasts’ from the Greek a ‘without’ and mazos or ‘breasts’. According to legend each girl had he right breast amputated or burned off to facilitate the handling of weapons. From this mistaken interpretation arose the common and ancient fallacy of the name a-mazos. No early artwork or representation supports the claim. The word is derived possibly from the ancient Iranian term ha-mazam which means warriors. The word in Persia ‘to make war’ is hamazakaram and is probably connected to its etymology. This view comes from Heschius of Alexandria. Certainly the term contains the Indo-Iranian root kar which means ‘to make’. This indicates the naivete of the ancient Greek etymology as meaning a-mazos, without breasts. Purportedly breast removal was assumed to facilitate the use of the bow but no contemporary representation of Amazons supports this view.

3.  Historiography

The ancient Greeks knew of two Asian localities for the Amazons which were separated from Europe by the River Don. Firstly, the Amazons were located on the banks of the River Thermodon near Sinope. Secondly on the isthmus north of the great Caucasus mountain chain. Hippocrates also placed the Amazons in Europe west of the Don and the Sea of Azov. Three localities were given by Strabo. Firstly in the mountains above Albania where they were separated from the Albanians by the Scythian tribes known as the Gelai and Degai. In essence separated by the Mermadalis River (the modern Terek). Secondly, the Amazons bordering the Gargarenses located at the northern foot of the Caucasus mountains. Thirdly, the land of the Amazons and the Siracene tribe was transversed by the torrent of a river called the Mermodas which discharged into the Sea of Azov. For Herodotus the Amazons could be found northeast of the upper region of the Sea of Azov, among a tribe called the Sauromati.

The Amazons founded many settlements in Asia Minor including Amastis, Sinope (Turkish Synop), Cyme (modern Nemrut Limani), Pitano, Mytilene (Lesbos), Ephesus (west coast of Turkey), and Smyrna (modern Izmir in Aegean Anatolia). In Greek mythology the Amazons were situated on the Pontus which is part of modern day Turkey. They were, therefore, located on the shore of the Euxine Sea (Black Sea). Amazons forms an independent kingdom rules by a queen, often named Hippolyta or ‘loose, unbridle mare’. For Aeschylus they lived in the distant past in Scythia at Palus Maeotis which, as Lake Maeotis, is the Sea of Azov. At a later date they migrated and relocated to Themiscyra on the River Thermodon (modern Terek in northern Turkey) their usual home on Pontic Asia Minor.

Herodotus affirms that the Samatians were descended from Amazons and Scythians, and that Sarmatian females continued to observe their ancient maternal customs. It is thought that a Amazon group was blown across the Sea of Azov into the Scythian lands situated in the modern south-western Crimea. On the condition they did not follow Scythian female customs they agreed to marry Scythian men. Thence they migrated north-west, and settled beyond the Tanais (Don) river thereby becoming the progenitors of the Sauromatians. The Amazon queen Thalestris visited Alexander and became a mother by him. The Volscian warrior maiden Camilla is characterised by Virgil who refers to the Amazon myths. Again, according to Herodotus, Sarmatian women fought alongside Scythians against Darius the Great in the 5th century BCE.

Roman historiographical records concerning the Amazons have Caesar stressing to the Senate the Amazon conquests of large areas of Asia by the Amazons. Moreover, Amazon raids against Lycia and Cilicia were confirmed. Philostratus located the Amazons in the Taurus Mountains, and Ammianus placed them east of the Tanais (Don) and neighbouring Alans. In addition Procopius put them in the Caucasus whilst ompey affirmed he found Amazons in the army of Mithridates, king of Pontus, who campaigned against Rome. In the 2nd century BC a concubine called Hypsicratea fought in battles alongside Mithridates VI of Pontus. In 271 BC a group of Gothic women, captured by Romans while fighting in the same attire as their men, were paraded through Rome wearing signs that said ‘Amazons’. In 138 BC the Roman Sextus Junius found in Lusitania  (part of Portugal and Spain) women who fought and died bravely in the company of their men. Sextus in 138 BC also noted that the women of the Bracari (a Celtic tribe in Portugal) also bore arms alongside their men without turning their backs.

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Statue of Wounded Amazon.  After Phidias.

In 102 BC a battle between the Romans and the Teutonic Ambrones (of Jutland possibly) at Aquae Sextae, was described by Plutarch as a fight no less firce with the women as the men. The women charging the Roman troops with swords. In 101 BC the Roman general Marius fought the Teutonic Cimbrians of Jutland origin. The Cimbrian women fought by shooting arrows from ‘waggon castles’ and in the field with swords. After the death of all the Cimbrian men the women continued to fight to the death. In the 1st century AD Tacitus wrote that Triaria, wife of Lucius Vitellus, armed herself with a sword and behaved with arrogance and cruelty at the captured city of Tarracina (southeast of Rome). in 63 AD Tacitus recorded in his Annals that women of rank had entered the gladiatorial arena. Moreover, in 100 AD Juvenal wrote that a gladiatrix called Eppia of southern Syria battled with the Romans. In 378 the Roman Empress Albia Dominica organised the defence of Rome against the invading Goths.

4.  Women in Ancient Warfare

Women warriors are known from the archaeological record. In 1997 the earliest known female warrior burial mounds were excavated in southern Russia. They were buried with swords, daggers, saddles and arrowheads. From the 6th century BC to the 4th century BC women buried with weapons have been found located on the Kazakhstan and Russian border. Graves of women warriors dating from the 3rd century BC have been found near the Sea of Azov. In 2004 the 2000 year old remains (1st century AD) of an Iranian female warrior with a sword were found in the north-western city of Tabriz. Moreover, some 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian ‘warrior graves’ on the Lower Don and Lower Volga contained females dressed for battle in the same manner as men. Elsewhere, in 2006, a Moche woman was buried with two ceremonial war clubs and twenty-eight spear throwers. This south American grave from Peru was the first known burial of a Moche woman to contain weapons.

Deruet-Departure_of_the_Amazons-1620

Departure of the Amazons (1620).  Claude Deruet.

Women warriors are found among the myths and folktales of the peoples of India. King Vikramaditiya dreams of the man-hating princess Matiayavati. There are warrior women examples from Arabia, England, and among the Makurep of upper Guapore River in Brazil. On Kodiak Island in Alaska the Konig Inuit have many tales of warrior women. The Dahomey Amazons or Mino are all an female regiment in the Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) which lasted until the end of the 19th century, and were founded around 1645 to 1685. The Shield Maidens were warrior women in Scandinavian folklore and often mentioned in sagas. The Valkyries may have been based on the Shield maidens. In the Greek epics Amazons exist in order to be fought and defeated my men in the Amazon-battle or Amazonamachy. Amazons of Greek tradition are briefly mentioned in the Irish Labor Gabala or Book of Invasions. The characters cited are more often in the role of female martial arts teachers such as Aife, Scathach and Buanann. In Russia there were the Slavic Polenitsa or the female warriors led by Vlasta.

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A Mino female warrior from Dahomey

Women warriors, or Amazons, are a characteristic feature of Sarmatian culture. Herodotus and Hippocrates both claimed that they were the descendants of Amazons who mated with Scythians and that it was the Sarmatians who turned their women into warriors and huntresses. Sarmatian women were active in military campaigns as well as social life. Archaeological evidence shows the burial of armed Sarmatian women in 25% of excavations, usually with their bows. Warrior maiden burials are found in Scythia under kurgans in the Altay mountain region and Sarmatia. From 460 to 370 BC was the time of Hippocrates who wrote of the Sauromati and Scythian women fighting battles. For example, in the 4th century Amage, a Sauromatian queen, attacked a Scythian prince who was making incursions into her protectorates. She rode to Scythia with 120 female warriors whereupon she killed him, his guards, family and children. The Sauromati and Sarmati can be identified with some of the tribes in the Caucasus. Again, it was Herodotus who distinguished between the Scythians west of the Don and the non-Scythians to the east. These Scythians were the main Caucasus chain tribes, the Gelai and Legai. The northern slope tribes are the Legasians and possibly Chechents.

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Queen Penthesilea with her bow.

5.  Religious Cults and the Amazons

In central Greece the tombs of Amazons are frequent. They are found in Megara, Athens, Chaeronea, Chalais, Thessaly at Scotussa, and Cynocephalia. Moreover, in Athens, there was an annual sacrifice to the Amazons, on the day before the Thesea. It is possible that the Amazons who overran Asia Minor were also priestesses of the Great Goddess as well as the celebrants and initiates of her cults. Whether they belong to the realm of mythology or represent literal history, most likely both, the Amazons bequeathed an indisputable effect on classical literature. The ancient and primitive form of worship was the aniconic reference to idols and symbols not in human or animal form. This preceded the worship of anthropomorphic deities. For example, the worship of Cybele in the form of a black stone at Pessinus in Phrygia is an aniconic survival. Indeed, in later mythology, Aphrodite is a love goddess but originally a war goddess.

The worship of the Great Mother of Phrygia as Cybele is germane to the study of Amazon religion. The Amazons were worshippers of the Mother known both as Rhea and Cybele. In Phrygia (west central Anatolia) the rites of the Cretan Mother were introduced and established at Pessinus where she was known as Dindymene. Appollonius showed the Amazons practising a ritual that was similar to that at Pessinus where they venerated a black stone in an open temple on an island of Samothrace off the coast off the coast of Colchis (modern western Georgia). The Amazons consecrated the island of Samothrace to the Mother of the Gods. The worship of Phrygian Cybele was in Samothrace. The goddess in Samothrace is closely allied to the form of Cybele – hence the consecration. In Lemnos the Great Goddess is the Thracian bendis, the fierce huntress of two spears who entered the Greek pantheon as the Thracian Artemis being closely allied to Cybele and Hecate. The cult of Cybele seems to have been indigenous in Phyrygia and Lydia. Hippolyte and her Amazons set up a bretas (old wooden effigy of Artemis) at Ephesus. They then established a an annual circular dance with weapons and shields.

6.  Amazon Matriarchy and Social Life

Matriarchy and its message were used by Bachofen (1815-1887) to prove the existence of prehistoric matriarchy. It is known that women hunters and warriors are frequently found in folktale and myth. The Amazons accepted the leadership of an elected Queen, Hippolyta among them, whilst they conducted raids in Asia Minor and nearby islands (which indicates a seafaring capability). As such they were accomplished horse riders and skilled archers. In peaceful times these warrior women built their gracious capital of Themiscyra as well as cultivating their lands and hunting. Sarmatian warrior women hunted on horseback alongside their husbands and took to the battlefield in times of war. They wore the same attire as their men and adopted the maxim that no girl shall marry until she has killed a man in battle.

These Amazon women displayed the cultural and social practices consistent among Sauro-Sarmatian nomads. Their main occupations were hunting and fighting with their bows and their Amazonian crescent -shaped shields, axes and spears. All were skilled horse riders. According to Herodotus the women of the Sauromati did not constitute a separate people like the Thermodon Amazons. As nomads the Sarmatians had no fixed habitation. Nonetheless, they still had a defined social organisation that divided them into nobles, vassals, and many slaves. Social stratification is evident in the Ural burial sites. The domestic status of Sarmatian women was reduced and they were little better than slaves in the matrimonial home. With regard to marriage they were divided into exogamous tribes for marriage purposes, with marriage within the tribe seen as incestuous. Despite their ferocious warlike attitudes to tribal enemies these Sarmatian women did all the outdoor work. They tended the sheep, ploughed and reaped the land, herded the cattle, but when attacked they fought as savagely as the men.

The Sauro-Sarmatian warrior nomads practised the typical clan and tribal cults of pre-Zoroastrian Iran. Their personified deities were those of nature, the sky, the earth, and fire. Some of the cult practices may have been inversions (reversal of gender roles) of ritual initiations reserved for maidens. Their deities were related to social concepts pertaining to war or the domestic hearth. With regard to burials fire cult practices are in evidence, and Sarmatian graves are representative of a military oriented nomadic existence. Social stratification and a more defined class structure developed and was accelerated by contact with Greek and Roman trade, industry, and agriculture.

Annually, due to biological necessity, Amazon virgin maidens would visit the nearby Gargareans. They mated with the men and returned home to bear their children. This was to prevent the extinction of the Amazon nation. Female offspring were brought up and trained in the martial arts, riding, hunting, and agriculture. Males were either returned to the Gargareans, slaughtered, maimed, or blinded. Greek mythology has versions that aver that no men were allowed to have either sexual encounters or live in Amazon territory. This explains the Amazon custom to obtain offspring by meetings at certain seasons with men of another tribe.

7.  Amazons in Mythology and Folklore

In Homer’s Iliad the Amazons were called Antineira or those who fight like men. Amazons appear during the Greek Archaic period in representative art connected to several legends. Also in the Iliad amazons are killed in combat by Bellerophon after invading Lycia, the defeat occurring at the river of Sangerias (near Pessinus). Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory in Libya and Gorgon but her tomb is outside Troy. Amazons attacked the Phrygians who were aided by Priam, which did not prevent them taking his side against the Greeks at Troy. Antiope died fighting alongside Theseus after which he marries the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. The Amazons also mounted an expedition against the island of Leuke, at the mouth of the Danube, where the ashes of Achilles were placed by Thetis. There are numerous legends that connect the Amazons with founding places in Ionia.

amazon-and-centaur

Amazon and Centaur (1901).  Franz Stuck.

In ancient Greek mythology there are a number of conflicting lists of Amazons. There are the warriors attendant on Queen Penthesilea which include Clonie, Derinoe, Polemusa, Thermodora, Evandre, Atandre, Antilorote, Bremusa, Alcibe, Hippothoe, Derimacheia, and Homothoe. Other Amazons include Ainaan (or ‘swiftness’) and one of the twelve who went to the Trojan War. Antibrote was another at Troy, as was Cleite, whose ship was blown off course and she landed in Italy to found Clete. Another Amazon was ntiope, and Antinera, the successor to Queen Penthesilea and who is known for ordering the crippling and castration of her male servant on the basis that the lame best perform the sex act. It was Queen Hippolyta who owned the magic girdle given to her by her father Ares. Queen Thalestris is the Amazon mentioned in the Alexander the Great legend. Asteria was another and the sixth killed by Heracles. Another, Helene, the daughter of Tityrus, fought Achilles and died of wounds inflicted. Otera was an Amazon who, as the consort of Ares, was the mother of both Hippolyta and Penthesilea. Melanippe was also a sister of Hippolyta who was captured by Heracles who then demanded Hippolyta’s magic girdle in return for her freedom, whereupon she complied.

Pentesilea_by_Arturo_Michelena

Penthesilea.  Arturo Michelena

The Amazons were said to have come into contact with the Argonauts of Jason who landed at Lemnos on their ay to Cholchis. They found Lemnos inhabited entirely by women with Queen Hypsipyle. They called the island Gynaekokratume which means ‘reigned by women’. The Amazons met Jason and his crew in full battle array as they were wont to kill male visitors.

One of the tasks or labours imposed on Heracles by Eurystheus was to obtain the magic girdle of the Amazon queen Hippolyta. This ninth labour resulted in another Amazonomachy whereby the Amazons attacked Heracles in force, thereby reaching Attica and besieged him at Athens. Heracles was joined by Theseus who came to help defeat the Amazon invasion as told in 6th century BC. A great battle took place on the date of the later festival called the Boedromia where the Amazons were defeated. A ritual ceremony in Pyanopsion has been interpreted as a sacrifice to Amazon dead. Theseus carried off princess Antiope, sister of Hippolyta, after the battle. In a poem in the Epic Cycle the Amazons, led by their queen Penthesilea who, according to Quintus Smynaeus, was of Thracian birth, came to aid Priam in the Trojan War after the death of Hector. This Penthesilea was a daughter of Ares, the Amazon deities being Ares and Artemis, but she was killed by Achilles. Achilles also kills Thyrsites because he alleged Achilles loved Penthesilea.

PenthesileaTischbein

The Death of Penthesilea. (1828). J. H. W. Tischbein

8.  A Chronology of Female Warriors

There are numerous and world wide examples of Amazons and women warriors both historically as well as in mythology, legend and folklore. Many goddesses have mythological origins portraying them as warriors and huntresses. Today the role of these women warriors or Amazons often remains embedded in many cultures even if disguised by the passage of time. Despite added layers of new legends the ideals and myths still cannot be obscured totally. From this palimpsest it is possible to create a timeline and geographical origin of Amazons and women warriors as characters and individuals in myth, legend, folklore and history.

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Wounded Amazon (1903).  Franz Stuck

In ancient Egypt circa 1600 BC Ahh0tep battled with the Hyksos thereby facilitating the re-unification of Egypt and thereupon founded a matriarchal lineage and dynasty. She was buried with military medals symbolising her valour in battle. In mythology Sekhmet was a warrior goddess depicted as a lioness. In the 3rd century BC Queen Berenice I of Egypt fought alongside Ptolemy. Berenice II participated in a battle and killed several enemies, and Ladodice I fought Ptolemy III Eurgetes. In 48 BC Arsinoe IV fought Cleopatra VII.

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Berenice

In China during the 1200’s BC Lady Fu Hao consort of W Ding, king of China, led 3000 men into battle. Further campaigns with 13,000 troops and important generals under her command, she became the most powerful military leader of her time. Many weapons were unearthed from her tomb. In the 5th century BC the Lady of Yue trained soldiers of the army of King Goujian of Yue. During the early 3rd century BC  Huang Guigu acted as a military official under Qin Shi Huang and led military campaigns against people of northern China. Between 14 and 18 AD Lu Mu led a rebellion against Wang Mang, and during the 4th century AD Li Xiu took her father’s place as military commander and defeated a rebellion. Hua Mulan was a legendary Chinese woman who went to war disguised as a man and was ta war for years without being found out.

Hua_Mulan

Hua Mulan

Trieu Au has been described as the Vietnamese Joan of Arc and her female general was Le Chan, whereas the woman Bui Thi Xuan was a general who died in 1802. In India between 1200 and 1000 BC the Rig Veda mentions a female warrior named Vishpala, who lost a leg in battle, had an iron prosthesis made and returned to warfare. Chand Bibi (1550-1599) was an Indian Muslim woman warrior, and Bibi Dalair Kaur was a 17th century Sikh woman who fought against the Moghuls. Mai Bhago was a Sikh woman warrior who fought against the Moghuls in 1294. In Aztec mythology Izpapalotl is a fearsome skeletal warrior goddess. In Brazil Maria Quiteria dressed as a man and enlisted in the ndependence forces. Anna Garibaldi fought in the Farrupilla revolution , and Maria Rosa, a 15 year old girl fought in the Contestado War. In Arabia, circa 740 BC, Zabibe was a queen who led armies as did Samsi her possible successor who revolted against Liglath-Pilesor around 720 BC. In the early 7th century AD al-Kahina was a female Berber religious and military leader and led the resistance to Arab expansionism in Numidia (north west Africa) and died in modern day Algeria.

According to the legendary history of Britain Queen Gwendolen, in 1000 BC, fought her husband Locrinus for the throne of Britain and defeated him. In 700 BC the legendary Queen Cordelia fought her nephews for control of her kingdom and personally fought in battle. In the 1st century AD Cartamandua, queen of the Brigantes allied with the Romans and battled other Britons. Also in the 1st century AD Agrippina the Younger, wife of the Emperor Claudius commanded Roman legions in Britain. In AD 61 Boudicca led a massive uprising against occupying Roman forces who rallied their men saying there were more women than men in her army. Boudicca (Boadicea) was also referred to, according to Holinshed’s Chronicles of 1577, as Bonduca. In the 3rd century AD two women warriors from the Danube

BOUDICCA IN HER CHARIOT-ILLUSTRATION

Boudicca in her Chariot

region, described as Amazons , served in a Roman military unit and are buried in Britain. Scathach (‘The Shadowy One’) was the legendary Scottish woman warrior, magician, and prophetess, daughter of Ardgamm, who ran a warrior academy in Ulster. In the Ulster Cycle she trained young heroes including Cuchulain in the arts of combat and fighting. Aife was a similar warrior. She was also known as or called Scathach n Aanaind, as well as Scathach Buanand – which means ‘victorious’, as well as Skatha. Cuchalain was trained by her in Alba in northwest Britain opposite Ireland. The Celts held to the view that only women could teach the skills of battle to men effectively.

Scathach

Scathach on the Isle of Skye

A number of women warriors clashed with Alexander the Great during his campaigns. In the 4th century BC his half-sister accompanied her father on a military campaign and killed the Ilyrian leader named Caeria in hand-to-hand combat. Also in the 4th century BC Roxana was captured during a battle by Alexander and eventually married him. In 334 BC Ada of Caria allied with Alexander and led the siege to reclaim her throne, and in 333 BC Queen Stateira and her family were captured by Alexander at the battle of Issus. She eventually married him. In 334 BC Herodotus recorded the Iranian queen Tomyris of the Massegetae fighting and defeating Cyrus the Great.

In 480 BC Artemisia of Caria and queen of the Halicarnassus participated in the Battle of Salamis and in the same year the Greek diver Hydna and her father sabotaged enemy ships before a critical battle. In 318 BC Eurydice III of Macedon fought Polyperchon and Olympias. Between 315 and 308 BC Cratespolis commanded an army of mercenaries and forced cities to surrender to her, whilst in the late 4th century BC  through to the early 3rd Amastris, wife of Dionysus of Heraclea, conquered four settlements and named them as a new city state. In the 3rd century BC the Spartan princess Arachidamia acted as captain to s group of women warriors who fought Pyrrhus during his siege of Lacedaemon. In 280 BC Chelidonis, another Spartan princess, commanded her women warriors on the walls of Sparta during a siege. She fought with a rope around her neck so she could not be taken alive. In the 2nd century BC Queen Stratonice convinced Docimus to leave his stronghold and her forces took him captive.

According to legend the Nubian queen Candace of Meroe, or Kandake or Candace Amanitore, intimidated Alexander the Great with her armies and her strategy while confronting and making him avoid Nubia. In reality Alexander never got as far south as Nubia. In 170 BC the Meroitic queen Candace Shenakdahkete ruled Nubia and a wall painting in a

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A Relief of Candace of Meroe

chapel in Meroe depicts her wearing a helmet and spearing her enemies. In the 1st century BC the Nubian queen Amanishabheto reigned over Kush or Nubia. A depiction of her pylon tower of a chapel shows her striking the shoulders of prisoners with he lance. In 1900 Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of Ejisu, the Asante Confederacy and now part of Ghana, led the rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism. In Hausa (Nigeria) history Amina Sukhera (also called Aminatu) was a Muslim princess (circa 1533-1610) in northeast Nigeria who had many military achievements. Oya is the warrior Undergoddess of the Niger River and is a warrior spirit of the wind, lightening, fire and magic.

amina-warrior

An artistic illustration of Amina Sukhera (Aminatu)

In the early 3rd century BC the legendary Empress Jingu of Japan may have led an invasion of Korea, but this may also be a fictional story. In 40 to 43 AD the Trung sisters and Phung Thi Chinh fought against the Chinese in Vietnam. In 248 AD Trieu Thi Trinh also fought the Chinese in Vietnam. Her army contained several thousand men and women warriors. Hangaku Gozen was an onna bugeisha or woman warrior, as was Tomoe Gozen (1157-1247). One Kaihime (born 1572) was said to have fought at the Seige of Odawara and have crushed a rebellion.

In the 3rd century BC Queen Teuta began piracy against Rome and eventually fought against Rome when they attempted to stop the piracy. Sophonisba, a Carthaginian, committed suicide rather than be handed over to the Romans as a prisoner of war. In 186 BC Chiomara, a princess of Gaul, was captured in battle between Rome and Gaul and was raped by a centurion. After a reversal she later ordered her assailant beheaded by her companions and delivered his head to her husband in recompense. In the 2nd century BC a Queen

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The Death of Sophonisba by Giambattista Pittoni (1730’s)

Rhodogune of Parthia was informed of a rebellion and waged a war to suppress it. In the 2nd century AD Queen Tania of Dardania took over the throne after the death of her husband and went into battle riding in a chariot. Joanna of Flanders (1295-1374) known also as Jehanne de Montfort and Jeanne La Flamme  organised the defence and fought

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Jeanne Hachette or Joan the Hatchet.

in the siege of Hennebont.  Jeanne Hachette (b 1456( was a French herine known as Joan the Hachet. Joan of Arc was militarily engaged during the Hundred Years war in France. In the 19th century Emilia Plater was the Polish-Lithuanian commander in the uprising against Russia.

Sources consulted

Abercromby, J.  (1891).  An Amazonian Custom in the Caucasus.  Folklore.  Vol II (2).

Bennet, F. M.  (1912).  Religious Cults Associated with the Amazons.

Carpenter, T. H.  (1996).  Art and Myth in Ancient Greece.  Thames & Hudson, London.

Davis-Kimball, J.  (2007).  Warrior women of Eurasia.  Archaeology, 50 (1).

Kirk, I.  (1987).  Images of Amazons: marriage and matriarchy.  In Macdonald, S. et al.

Macdonald, S. et al. (1987).  Images of Women in Peace and War.  Macmillan, Oxford.

Rothery, G. C.  (1915).  The Amazons.  Senate Books, London. New Edition (1995).

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2 responses to “Amazons and Warrior Women

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