Man (Saladin: The Life, The Legend and the Islamic Empire, 2015, etc.) debunks the ancient myths and legendary nonsense surrounding a race of women warriors.
The so-called Amazons left no pottery or jewelry and certainly no settlement that could be excavated. However, there are tombs yielding immense treasures and information, particularly in Tuva, now a semi-autonomous region of Russian. This was the heartland of the Scythians, the people most likely to have produced the Amazons. The region boasts a wide assortment of burial mounds, and the kurgans, or tombs, are evidence of the violent lives lived by the women—and the men—over some 1,500 years (roughly 1000 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.). There absolutely were women warriors who rode horses and fought like men, but the author smoothly and efficiently debunks the many myths associated with them—e.g., the killing of male children or the removal of a girl’s right breast to facilitate the shooting of a bow. It was mainly the Greeks who proliferated the myths about this fierce race of women; in fact, they were obsessed with them. It was a fashion in art to follow mythology, and the Amazons served as a cautionary tale, the symbol of a danger to family and state. Add in xenophobia, and they were the ultimate threat. As the Greeks saw it, it took real heroes, like Achilles, and help from the gods to defeat these warriors, adding to Greek glory. Due to Greek influence, the Amazons were lodged in Europe’s consciousness, advanced by exploration in the new world of South America (a tribe just over the next mountain…), and set in place by novels, Wonder Woman, and other elements of pop culture. “Wonder Woman is even more Amazonian that the Amazons of Greek legend,” writes the author. “[She] is not about to be defeated or bedded, even by superheroes.”
A great historical resource about a mysterious people that also shows how women, through the ages, have gathered strength from each other and continue to do so today.