Will Wonder Women never cease.
The bodies of four female Amazon warriors buried in the 4th century B.C. have been found at a Scythian burial site in Russia, at least one dressed in ceremonial garb with an intact ceremonial headdress — a rarity.
The Scythians were the model for Wonder Woman, the fictional superhero first created in 1941, as The New Yorker noted in 2014. And more recently, a similar image surfaced in Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence’s character in “The Hunger Games.”
Russian researchers at the RAS Institute of Archaeology used accompanying items to date the burial as during the 4th century B.C.
Two of the graves had been looted over the years, but two were intact. Robbed were the graves of a 20-25 year old woman and a teenage girl aged 12 or 13, the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
“Their bones were scattered to fill the grave,” the statement said.
But among the artifacts were found more than 30 iron arrowheads, an iron hook shaped in the form of a bird, horse harness elements, iron hooks for suspending reins, iron knives, fragments of molded vessels and a myriad of animal bones, the archaeology institute said. Other artifacts were scattered in the tunnel the grave robbers had hewn, vessels dating from the second to third quarter of the 4th century B.C., the statement said.
The undisturbed section of the burial site revealed two sets of female bones laid out on wooden pallets covered with grass litter, their heads resting on earthen, grass-covered “pillows,” the archaeologists said. The first woman was between 40 and 50 years old and bore a “well-preserved headpiece, consisting of stamped gold plates with floral ornaments, as well as rims with amphora-shaped pendants,” the researchers said. Such hats were normally only found on royalty.
Moreover, few such headdresses have survived burial intact, making this a rare and informative find.
The second woman was between 30 and 35, and lay along the western wall with her head facing south in what is known as the “pose of the horseman,” her legs spread wide as if riding, an effect achieved by cutting the tendons in the legs, according to CNN. A bronze mirror was underneath one shoulder, and two spears were laid along that side of her body, the researchers’ statement said. She also wore a glass bead bracelet.
An incense burner and a black lacquered vessel, both dating to the second quarter of the 4th century B.C., were found with them as well. The remains were unearthed in a cemetery, Devitsa V, which consists of 19 mounds in Russia’s Voronezh region, CNN said.
“The Amazons are common Scythian phenomenon and during the last decade our expedition has discovered approximately 11 burials of young armed women,” Valerii Guliaev, head of the Don expedition, told CNN. “Separate barrows were filled for them and all burial rites which were usually made for men were done for them.”
The Scythians were Eurasian peoples of the steppes who cultivated a mastery of horseback riding and archery over thousands of years, according to Stanford University.
Amazons were the stuff of legend dating back to ancient Greece. But archeological evidence surfacing in recent years proves that they actually existed, as Stanford University researcher Adrienne Mayor wrote in “The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World."
“Amazons were modeled on stories of self-confident women of steppe cultures who fought for glory and survival and enjoyed male companionship,” she said in a statement when her book came out. But they did so “on terms that seemed extraordinary to the ancient Greeks” — with full equality.