History Community ~ All Empires Homepage


This is the Archive on WORLD Historia, the old original forum.

 You cannot post here - you can only read.

 

Here is the link to the new forum:

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Calendar   Register Register  Login Login


Forum LockedAncient Amazons: Warrior Matriarchy or Greek Myth?

 Post Reply Post Reply
Poll Question: Did the Amazons really exist?
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
4 [66.67%]
2 [33.33%]
This topic is closed, no new votes accepted

Author
gladiatrix View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 09-Nov-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 0
Post Options Post Options   Quote gladiatrix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ancient Amazons: Warrior Matriarchy or Greek Myth?
    Posted: 20-Nov-2005 at 18:10
Personally I beleive that the Amazons are a pure myth. If not simply based on the discrepancies in the myths themselves. Whenever the Greeks explored new territories the Amazonian territories changed to lands more exotic: first there was the island of Lesbos, the Eastern borders of Greece, and then Africa. I beleive that the Amazons were a fable created to explain to the male soldiers why they were fighting women and to quelm rebellious females by showing them that a matriarchal society would fail, because if you notice in almost all the myths the Amazons make foolhardy emotional decisions or are subdued by a male protagonist.
Pain is simply a level of discomfort higher than that which we are accustomed.
Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
Sultan
Sultan
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6571
Post Options Post Options   Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 03:09
Your explanation is surely right, still Amazons understood as women warriors did exist without doubt.

There's no known matriarchy (part of the myth of the Amazons) but there is matrifocality. In such non-patriarchal context it is very likely that at least on occasion and in some groups systematically, women took arms as did their male peers. 

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Constantine XI View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar
Lord of Hut River Province Principality

Joined: 01-May-2005
Location: Australia
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 5714
Post Options Post Options   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 08:32
Some consider that Herodotus's reference to Amazons is a reference to the Scythian (or is it Sarmatian) tribes which lived north of the black sea. In such warlike and nomadic societies with an emphasis on missile and mounted warfare women had a much greater chance in battle than in close combat infantry engagements.
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

Back to Top
Alkiviades View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Antarctica
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 471
Post Options Post Options   Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 09:07

Maju, what excactly is matrifocality? Never heard of that term and no dictionary I have contains such a word.

BTW The Amazon myth is now aknowledged to be a product of the early contacts of the Greeks in the archaic era with Skythic tribes having a social structure that allowed for women to take part in battle. We shouldn't rule out the possiblity of one of those tribes to be ruled by a woman at one point or another as well, giving birth to a women-only warrior tribe as the Amazons of they myth are.

Back to Top
Alanais View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 18-Nov-2005
Location: Turkey
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 0
Post Options Post Options   Quote Alanais Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 09:12

Source: http://www.fjkluth.com/amaz2.html

There are a number of myths that include references to Amazons:

  • Bellerophon and the Amazons (Homer)
  • Priam battling them at the river Sanarios. (Homer)
  • The tomb of Myrrhine outside Troy (Strabo)
  • Penthesilia is killed by Achilles (Arctinus)
  • Heracles conquers the Amazons (Apollodorus)
  • Theseus has to repel an Amazon invasion of Attica (Plutarch)

Amazon tombs are frequent in central Greece. They are found at:

  • Megara
  • Athens
  • Chaeronea and Chalcis
  • Thessaly at Scotussa
  • Cynoscephalae

 

Many Asia minor settlements were founded by Amazons:

  • Amastris
  • Sinope
  • Cyme
  • Pitana
  • Priene
  • Mytilene (Lesbos)
  • Ephesus
  • Smyrna
  • Myrina

 

In historical times maidens of Ephesus performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields that had been established by Hippolyte and her Amazons. They had initially set up an old wooden statue of Artemis( a bretas).

Greek Literature locates one community of Amazons in north central Turkey. They lived next to the river Thermodon in the city of Themiscyra in Pontic Asia Minor. This location is consistent with the stories that a contingent of Amazons led by Penthesilea was an ally of Troy and battled the Greeks who had come to recover Helen. The Trojan war is believed to have been fought about 1500-1200 b.c.e. Historically the Hittites occupied the area of the world believed to be the home of the Amazons at this time. The archeological remains of the Hittites are crude and lack the excitement of the Greek ones, so they have been poorly studied. But there are a number of possibilities which could connect Amazons and Hittites.

Hittites wore their hair long. The Greeks simply confused them with women because Greek women wore long hair.

Also of note is the fact that in the Trojan war the main protagonists among the gods are Athena opposing Troy, and Aphrodite on the side of Troy. The Amazons seem to be supporting the side of Aphrodite. The fact that Aphrodite is ultimately defeated seems significant.

Women warriors are not unknown among the Greeks. Atalanta is an example. Though she did not participate in any armed conflicts, she performed bravely in the Calydonian boar hunt, and bested men in wrestling and running contests.

Amazon communities -one theory is that Amazon communities were made of tents. This would explain why there are no Amazon archeological sites. This would also be consistent with the fact that weaving was a traditional skill of women. It is also consistent with the fact that amazons wear more clothing than their Greek counterparts. That would also point to the fact that the main economy of Amazons was raising wool, flax or the silphium plant. Farming was also a possibility as in the traditional societies many farming tasks were done by women. The basic unit of the Amazon army was the mounted warrior. It would be impossible for Amazon's to support every woman as a warrior because of the weapons and supplies that a mounted warrior rquires. In the middle ages mounted knights required at least one squire and so at this early time at least two assistants might be required. And every women who took to the field might require two or three at home to manage the estate while the warrior was away. So each warrior might require the assistance of perhaps one dozen women. And if the community was made of tents, then many of the warriors would have to stay close to home to defend the tents. A single army of 50,000 amazons might require a community of about 1,200,000 Amazons at home, which Priam claims they did in the Iliad. Today 7 acres are required to support each person and then more land was needed. Using this figure 8.4 million acres would be needed for the entire community, or about 10 thousand square miles. This is a square about 100 miles by one hundred miles at the very least. This would mean 1/16 of the territory of contemporary Turkey would be occupied by amazons, with something like a quarter being more likely unless their agriculture was exceptionally efficient.

The dress that the Greek artists put on Amazons could not be accurate. What they did was to adapt the stories of the Amazons to the dress that they saw around them. The Amazons made not have worn armor, but they certainly did not wear the flimsy, impractical gowns that they are pictured in. They are pictued in leggings and these are more practical. Amazons are usually shown riding bareback yet it is very likely that they did not sit on the horse with their bare bottom. This might be very hard on their skin. They probably wore something like the english riding pants which has leather protection at the points of most wear. Myth reports that Hercules was sent for the girdle of the Queen of the Amazons. I wonder if this was a device to help her ride her horse. Both the Minoan men and women wore girdles. The men wore a girdle over a loincloth and the likelihood is that the Amazon girdle is an adaptation of this.

Much was made in ancient times about the Amazon's cutting off their right breast. If it is true it is easy to understand why the Amazon culture died out. This is a severe torture for a woman. But they did need to cover their right breast even though it was not customary for women to cover either breast in Greece at this time. It would have been extremely painful for a bowstring to have caught any part of the breast when the bow was fired. Younger women might get away with covering the right breast while older women might need both breasts confined during battle. The Greek women have been known to have used a triangular bandage for this purpose. This would have been entirely adequate.

The hair theory is that Amazons were considered women just because they wore their hair long. Homer says that at the time of the Trojan war, all Greeks wore their hair long. All illustrations from the Minoan culture show long hair too. They must have been women based upon some other finding, as once they were trussed up in leather helmet, cuirass, apron and greaves, they would look like a man. Of course the bodies resulting from a battle would be immediately stripped of armor as the most important loot from a battle. Homer describes that warriors did not even wait for the battle to be over. The sex of the typically naked victims of war would be pretty easy to determine.

Question: Would it have been considered wrong if an Amazon found herself attracted to a man? Would this issue be important if the Amazon felt she was falling in " love " or if she proceeded on to obtain a relationship with this man even if the relationship was strictly sexual?

Answer: Amazons arranged liaisons with men so they could get pregnant. They would raise the girl babies as Amazons and deliver up the boy babies to the men. This was an ideal arrangement for the men because they would have sex without responsibility, something they have been known to even pay for. And, of course, male babies are seen as more valuable, so they probably were easy to give away, if not to the father, then to someone else. The Amazon queen Hippolyta was stolen by Theseus. There is no doubt that Hippolyta was fond of Theseus, because when her charges came to rescue her, she helped repel the Amazons form right alongside her husband. She also became the mother of Theseus' child Hippolytus. The Greeks seemed to think that it was quite right for Hippolyta to love Theseus, and the Amazons thought it wrong. They fought a fierce battle over this and the Amazons were barely defeated.

Question: Did Amazons allow for non-amazon women to join them? If so, what was the ceremory or rite that they would go through to join if any? And what were the beliefs and customs of the Amazons?

Answer: This question seems to ignore the fact that there was more than one culture of Amazons and they each would have had their own rules. The list of Amazon cultures are:

  • The Libyan Amazons. These Amazons lived in the region of the Sahara in Africa before it turned to desert over 3000 years ago. Athena came from this group.
  • The Amazons of the Thermodon River in Asia Minor. These are the Amazons that Jason and Theseus encountered. These Amazons attacked Athens before the Trojan war. Most of the Greek imagery depicts these Amazons and most of the details that we have seem a product of the fertile Greek imagination.
  • The Scythian Amazons. Scythia was an area north and east of the of the Black sea. Herodotus mentions Amazons in Scythia and now graves have been found which contain the bones of women warriors. These Amazons may have been in Scythia as early as the Trojan war but no earlier. Penthesilia may have been a Scythian.

Question: does amazon represent a real world?

Answer: It might, but then, it might not. There is archeological evidence for Amazons in Scythia. The Amazons of the Thermodon seem less likely, but there have been no good archeological studies. The Lybian Amazons are harder because they are older and their location is not known. The stories of the Amazons are examples of strange stories that probably contain truth, but we have not yet determined what it is.

Question: Have any amazon cities ever been discovered?

Answer: You must think of what characteristics there are of an Amazon city so you can identify it from the archeological data of a city that is discovered. Do you think, perhaps that there would be sculptures of Amazons? And perhaps there would be graves with warriors buried with their weapons? You could read the ancient records of Amazons to identify other characteristics.

No city has yet been found, but the site on the Thermodon has not yet been excavated. Women were buried with their weapons in Scythia, and statues of Amazons are all over Greece.

Question: were they ukranien?

Answer: The ancient territory of Scythia is now occupied by Ukraine, Russia and possibly Romania, Moldava, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Some Amazons may have lived in Scythia. Others may have been located in Asia Minor in what is now Turkey. The third group may have been in what is now Tunisia

Question: Is it possible that the Amazons were a nomadic hunter-herder society similar to the ones on the Russian steppes? This would enable them to all be efficient in weapons (especially bows & arrows) and horseback riding, and also explain why there are no Amazon city archaeological finds... I also heard something about the word Amazon being a reference to their supposed worship of ARtemis, the moon goddess, but I don't remember it well.

Answer: Yes, the Amazons most likely were a nomadic hunter-herder society. But There is real question whether this was possible in north central Asia Minor where the Greeks located them. If they made cities they were made of cloth, because weaving is the only technical skill applied to them. Cloth cities would have had no remains. Amazons worshipped Ares (their father). They also are said to worship Artemis who seems very like them. They should have worshipped Athena who might have allowed them to survive a little longer

halk içinde muteber bir nesne yok devlet gibi

olmaya devlet cihan da bir nefes sýhhat gibi

saltanat dedikleri ancak cihan gavgaa sýdýr

olmaya baht-u saadet dünya da vahdet gibi
Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
Sultan
Sultan
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6571
Post Options Post Options   Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 09:31
Originally posted by Alkiviades

Maju, what excactly is matrifocality? Never heard of that term and no dictionary I have contains such a word.


Matrifocal (from Lat. mater = mother and focus) means a society that has dominant female lineages and is normally also matrilocal (men go to live in their wifes' clans or villages, and not vice versa, as happen in patrilocality). It's a prefered term over matriarchy, which implies female domination over males, a form of society never ever observed in any known historical or existing society. Only the myth of Amazons talk of a matriarchal (the inverse of patriarchal) society but this is probably due to patriarchal Greeks distorting the perception of matrifocal societies as the ones that seem to have dominated in Europe and other regions before the arrival of IEs (following Gimbutas here).

Unlike patriarcal societies, matrifocal ones are egalitarian at least genderwise. This does not mean that there is no gender division of labour etc. but that both genders have about the same saying in family and community matters. A typical historical example of matrifocal societies are the Iroquois but in one way or the other we find matrifocality in many cultures, specially out of the Eurasian circle, where most of them were erased by patriarcal domination in the Metal Ages.

One characteristic of matrifocal societies seems to be that, unlike what could seem at first sight, they can be pretty much warlike. This is due to the fact that men, the normal warriors, are less attached to their residences, which actually belong (dynastically) to their wifes.

It is speculated that agriculture favored matrifocality while cattle herding favored patrifocality. Eventually the semi-nomadic sepherds and cowboys were able to conquer their somehow richer matrifocal neighbours and impose their patriarcal scheme on them. IEs and Semites would be among the main patriarcal vectors. If so, this makes the Sarmatian Amazon case even stranger but it has been aduced that this Amazonism of Sarmatians was actually a product of the dominance of Caucasic and not IE population among them, even though they seem to be Indo-Europeized somehow.


NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Yiannis View Drop Down
Sultan
Sultan
Avatar

Joined: 03-Aug-2004
Location: Neutral Zone
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2329
Post Options Post Options   Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 07:02

Alanais, the site you got this info from it totally unreliable (if not a joke).

 Certainly there are not "Amazon tombs" in Greece (at least to my knowledge) and neither are any statues.

The basis of a democratic state is liberty. Aristotle, Politics

Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin
Back to Top
gladiatrix View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 09-Nov-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 0
Post Options Post Options   Quote gladiatrix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Nov-2005 at 18:15

Perhaps Alanis is referring to the tombs of the Eurasian nomads such as the one dubbed the "Siberian ice maiden"

you can learn more at:

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/aegean/amazons/amazon archaeology.html

Pain is simply a level of discomfort higher than that which we are accustomed.
Back to Top
Alanais View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 18-Nov-2005
Location: Turkey
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 0
Post Options Post Options   Quote Alanais Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Nov-2005 at 18:39

Yiannis,

Greece as mentioned above might refer to ancient Greece such as Ephesus which is in Turkey now. A site which refers to that is http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/pausanias-bk1.html

thanks for the information

halk içinde muteber bir nesne yok devlet gibi

olmaya devlet cihan da bir nefes sýhhat gibi

saltanat dedikleri ancak cihan gavgaa sýdýr

olmaya baht-u saadet dünya da vahdet gibi
Back to Top
Ellinas View Drop Down
Janissary
Janissary
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Location: Greece
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 28
Post Options Post Options   Quote Ellinas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 07:14

They were many mitriarchical societies, especially in prehistory. The myths about the amazons, not only in Greek but in other mythologies too, are based in these.

The amazons Greek mythology and historians are reffering to, as it looks like, were a Scythian/Sarmatian mitriarchical society about in the area North/east of the Black sea. You can notice today that many women of this area are tall and big-sized.

Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.047 seconds.