The #amazons were a #mythic group of all-female #warriors, whose homeland according to #Greek #mythology is located at the mouth of the river Thermodon in northern Asia Minor (Hdt. 9.27; Diod. Sic. 2.44–6). They are also found near the lower and middle Don (Tanais), a region that has produced numerous related archaeological finds. In later versions of the myth, they are described as descendants of a nomadic tribe whose male members were killed by their own wives (Iust. 2,4; Diod. Sic. 2,44). In order to multiply they were mating with men of neighbouring tribes (Str. 11,5,1), keeping only the female offsprings.
Their origins remain unknown. According to Herodotos, the #Scythians called them Oiorpata which meant 'men-killers' (#Avestan vīra-, Latin vir 'man' and #Persian pat, Sogdian pt-, Greek πατασσω 'to kill, to beat, to strike'). Their name 'amazons' has been derived, in a folk #etymology from the Greek term a-mazos (a- 'without', mastos 'breast') and is associated with the custom of removing the right breasts of young girls to facilitate the handling of weapons such as bows. Its derivation from Old Iranian *maz- (combat), producing a folkname *ha-maz-an “fighting together or warrior” has also been criticized. The possibility of an non-Indo-European source is high.
Attic vases from 6th and 5th century BCE, depict Amazons labelled with Greek text that does not render Greek. An example is an #Amazon called Pkpupês, a word containing a rare consonant cluster found only in a handful languages around the world. In #Circassian, a north Caucasian #language, this would mean something like "Worthy of armor". On another vase depicting an Amazon (or Scythian) the character is labelled Serague, which would mean "wearing/armed with a sword" in Circassian. Amazons with Indo-#Iranic names appear as well, for example Varkida which could mean 'princess/nobble kinswoman' < PIE *wal 'to rule, to be strong'. The #word is also an explicit loan in Circassian, namely warγ. Nevertheless, those suggestions have not been conclusive either.
#history #archaeology #archaeologist #historical #linguistics #historicallinguistics #asiaminor #palaeography