Arms and the Women

Digs & Discoveries May/June 2020

(Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences)

When the ancient Greeks encountered the nomadic Scythians, who dominated the Eurasian steppe in the first millennium B.C., they recorded that they were deeply impressed by the spectacle of Scythian women riding into battle. Recently, a team excavating a fourth-century B.C. burial mound in western Russia found that it held the remains of four of these real-life Amazons. Two of the women were buried with horse tack and weapons, and one of them had her legs positioned as if she were riding a horse. “We can certainly say that these two women were horse warriors,” says team leader Valerii Guliaev of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology, “and we suppose that all four women in the grave were warriors.” Guliaev also found that the burial mound held 30 iron arrowheads, and that one of the warriors wore a golden crown and took a dagger to her grave.

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