Spectacular tomb of Sarmatian Warrior Woman Discovered in Russia

The article “Spectacular tomb of Sarmatian Warrior woman found in Russia” written by Mihai Andrei was posted in the ZME Science venue on August 18th, 2015. Kindly note that the article fails to mention the Iranian connection of the Amazons as well as the Scythians and Sarmatians/Alans. For the Iranian Iranian identity of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans readers are referred to the following sources:

The Amazons were essentially of Iranian stock as these were of the above noted Iranian peoples. Readers are referred to the following sources on the Amazons:

There are also archaeological reports pertaining to excavations of Amazon warrior women in Iran – see for example:

Kindly note that Mihai Andrei’s article has been slightly edited below – also: the images and accompanying captions inserted below do not appear in the original ZME Science posting.

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Russian archaeologists have unearthed a trove of remarkable significance: the tomb of a Sarmatian noble woman warrior who worshiped fire. The female fighter was a Sarmatian, a people who worshipped fire and whose prominent role in warfare was seen as an inspiration for the Amazons of Greek mythology. A gem with a single-line Phoenician or early Aramaic inscription was found buried with her, placed on her chest. At her feet there were fragments of a bronze bucket with floral ornaments (pictured) and the image of the Gorgon’s head on a stick. In the north-eastern part of the grave were located four ceramic vessels.

The tomb was found with more than 100 arrowheads, a horse harness, a collection of knives and a sword, which all attest she was a warrior. Alongside, they also found a gem with inscription in Aramaic, as well as both gold and silver jewelry, which indicate a high status.

Sarmatian female warrior (Source: Imgur). Her attire and equipment are virtually identical with fellow Iranian peoples of the period.

The Sarmatians were nomadic people who flourished from about the 5th century BCE to the 4th century CE in parts of today’s Iran and Russia, and at one point, up to Ukraine and Moldova. The Sarmatians differed from the Scythians in their veneration of the god of fire rather than god of nature, and women’s prominent role in warfare, which possibly served as the inspiration for the Amazons.

However, unlike the mythological Amazons, the real life Sarmatian Amazons had nothing against men – they fought side by side men and often got married, as is the case here. The woman was buried with someone else, likely her husband, but his tomb was looted, revealed experts from the Institute of Archaeology, of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Around them, 29 other burial mounds were discovered during the construction of a new airport serving Rostov-on-Don.

A reconstruction of a female Achaemenid cavalry unit by Shapur Suren-Pahlav.

Unfortunately, most of them were already pillaged. Archaeologist Roman Mimokhod said:

“Most of the burials on this site are plundered and, of course, it is great luck to find an intact one. It is interesting that there are two burials in this mound. One obviously belonged to man and was totally looted. We believe that it was a double burial of some noble Sarmatian and his wife.”

According to initial analysis of the Sarmatian female warrior’s teeth, she lived to a very respectable age, which certainly meant surviving some harsh battles. The results of more detailed analysis will be announced soon. Archaeologists added:

‘The depth of the tomb is [13 feet] four metres and it was covered with a wooden decking. At the edge of the grave pit were found the remains of a harness and more than 100 iron arrowheads. According to ancient historians, Sarmatian women participated in hostilities and this find of arrowheads is indirect confirmation of this.’

Female Scythian horse archer (Source: Osinform). The Sarmatians who succeeded the Scythians on the steppes and the Ukraine region were similar to their cousins in Persia where Romans made references to female fighters in the Sassanian army for example. Weapons have also found to be buried in the graves of Parthian females in northern Iran – for more see:

The association of both jewelry and battle items is intriguing. This means that the woman was a warrior of high status – the wife of a warchief, or a warchief herself. Mimokhod noted:

‘The collar of her dress was decorated with stamped buckles of gold leaf in the form of a stylised ram’s head … Her sleeves were embroidered with colourful beads combined with gold triangular and hemispherical plaques.  On each hand – a gold bracelet. On her breasts were various beads, among which was a gem with a single-line Phoenician or early Aramaic inscription. At her pelvis lay a gold vial. … This had a tight lid and its contents are fossilised. We will analyse this to understand what it was, but most likely it contained some incense. By her right hand were fragments of wooden dishes and a cup. At her feet there were fragments of a bronze bucket (ladle) with floral ornaments and the image of the Gorgon’s head on a stick. In the north-eastern part of the grave were located four ceramic vessels.’

To make things even more interesting, a collection of knives and a sword was hidden inside the tomb, and all these items belonged to different times: from the first century BCE to the first century CE, they spanned for maybe 200 years. This means that the items were likely passed down from generation to generation, until they were finally buried with her. It’s a rather unique and surprising aspect which adds even more value to the discovery.

Lur woman in a local competition in Luristan province in Western Iran, partaking in a shooting contest on horseback (Source: Wisgoon.com). Many of the traditions of the Amazon warrior women continue to endure among the nomadic peoples of Iran … for more on this topic, click here

Grave of Female Scythian Warrior Found in Ukraine

The article “Grave of Female Scythian Warrior Found in Ukraine” written by Ingvar Nord was first published in the Ancient Origins venue on September 1, 2018. Kindly note that article fails to mention the Iranian connection of the Amazons as well as the Scythians and Sarmatians/Alans in particular – instead the author makes reference to a vague characterization of these having been “Indo-European-speaking herders” which fails to distinguish between Celtic, Italic, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Illyrian, Hellenic, Armenian, Dacian, Tocharian, and Indian (Bharat), and Iranian peoples. For the Iranian Iranian identity of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans readers are referred to the following sources:

The Amazons were essentially of Iranian stock as these were of the above noted Iranian peoples. Readers are referred to the following sources on the Amazons:

There are also archaeological reports pertaining to excavations of Amazon warrior women in Iran – see for example:

Kindly note that Ingvar Nord’s article has been slightly edited below – also: two images and accompanying captions inserted below do not appear in the original Ancient Origins posting.

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Ukrainian TV Channel, ZIK has reported the discovery of a burial of a female Scythian warrior – who is thought to have been part of the fierce all-female tribe of Amazons mentioned by the Greek epic writers and then the historian Herodotus. The find of a skeleton accompanied by grave goods and weapons associated with this noble fighting class has been found by a group of archaeologists, students and volunteers who conducted an archaeological expedition to Mamai Hill, Ukraine.

Findings at the grave

The burial of a female Scythian warrior is located in the Great Znamyanka, Kam’yansko-Dniprovskyi District, Zaporozhye region of Ukraine. The burial place that has been found is aged around 2400 years. Due to the location, age, and the grave goods that have been found, it has been assessed that this is likely to be the grave of a member of the Amazon warrior tribe , thought to be closely related to the Scythians, that legend claims lived and roamed in in various locations around the region.

A diminutive lekythos, a small jar for keeping aromatic oils and perfumes, was found in the grave (Image: Mamia Gora).

The excavators of the Scythian lady buried in Mamai Hill have also recovered a miniature jar – or lekythos to the Greeks, in which contemporary women of noble origin kept perfumes or aromatic oils. This was one of the indications that the grave was of a high-status woman. Other items found in the burial are exquisite bronze lanterns, bronze arrow heads and two lead spinners. The arrow heads are indicative that the woman was a warrior.

Arrow heads were found by the skeletal remains of the noblewoman (Image:Mamia Gora).

Warrior was Still a Lady

A well-preserved bronze mirror was also found. As well as serving the aesthetic purpose, mirrors also had a certain sacred function for the ancient peoples and were related to the ‘otherworld’ of the afterlife. That is why this item sometimes occurs, in particular in women’s Scythian burials.

Bronze mirror found in the Amazon burial site (Image:Mamia Gora).

The distinct outline of the funeral pit was noticed by archaeologists after the trench was removed by a bulldozer. From that moment on, the more delicate manual excavation and cleaning around the area of the grave took place.

Grave of a female Scythian warrior found in Ukraine (Source: Zik).

It remains for the anthropologists to determine just how old this Amazon was when she died and what was the cause of death. Whether this was a warrior that died in battle, from illness or even natural causes remains to be found out.

Other Amazon Warriors

These are not the first finds of warriors suspected to be Amazons. According to the New York Times , similar graves were found by Russian and American archaeologists among Sarmatian tribes at Pokrovka. The Sarmatians in Herodotus come from the union of Scythians with the Amazons. From the grave goods and other evidence, the first among this race were women warriors. The burials appeared to be associated first with the Sauromatians and then the early Sarmatians. These were Indo-European-speaking herders who lived on the steppes in the sixth to fourth century BC, and fourth to second centuries BC, respectively.

A reconstruction by Cernenko and Gorelik of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle (Cernenko & Gorelik, 1989, Plate F). The ancient Iranians (those in ancient Persia and the ones in ancient Eastern Europe) often had women warriors and chieftains, a practice not unlike those of the contemporary ancient Celts in ancient Central and Western Europe. What is also notable is the costume of the Iranian female warrior – this type of dress continues to appear in parts of Luristan in Western Iran. 

But the most striking discovery at Pokrovka has been the skeletons of women buried with swords and daggers . One young woman, bow-legged from a riding horseback, wore around her neck and amulet in the form of a leather bag containing a bronze arrowhead. At her right side was an iron dagger; at her left, a quiver holding more than 40 arrows tipped with bronze. As noted by Jeannine Davis-Kimball, a leader of the excavations:

“These women were warriors of some sort … They were not necessarily fighting battles all the time, like the Genghis Khan, but protecting their herds and grazing territory when they had to. If they had been fighting all the time, more of the skeletons would show signs of violent deaths.”

Iranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest of Iran) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 CE).

New Book (2020): The Ladies’ Secret Society – History of the Courageous Women of Iran

Manda Ervin Zand has published the textbook entitled:

The Ladies’ Secret Society: History of the Courageous Women of Iran

(Order from Amazon here …)

This riveting and remarkable book reveals, in print for the first time, the long history of struggle against clerical domination partaken by Iranian women across the centuries. Rooted in the long-standing and distinguished history of ancient Iran across the millennia, where Mother-Gods were once revered, the Ladies’ Secret Society, an organization founded in 1909, was both the inheritor of this proud history, and the progenitor of the contemporary women’s rights campaign of Iranian women (inside Iran and the diaspora) today.

Iranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 CE).

Zand Ervin relates the stories and records the accomplishments of generations of individual women activists, who fought for every iota of freedom they gained, only to witness their hard-won rights virtually stripped overnight after the arrival of the pan-Islamic establishment into Iran in 1979. During the early days of the establishment of the pan-Islamic theocracy, Zand Ervin witnessed the execution of several innocent people, including her high school principal, who, as stated by Zand Ervin, was executed simply because she was a woman – and the Secretary of Education. She offers dramatic and compelling eyewitness testimonies of strong and emancipated women who were forced against their will to live under a pan-Islamist system. These same women, as Ervin Zand documents, have fought back often under near-impossible odds, and continue to fight for women’s rights inside Iran to this day. Manda Zand Ervin’s History of Iran (with its compulsory imposition of the veil upon women since 1979) offers insight and context into the distressing news of today dominating the headlines and the ensuing dangers of the clerical gender apartheid system.

The board of directors of “Jam’iat e nesvan e vatan-khah”, a women’s rights association in Tehran (1923-1933) (Source: Manda Zand-Ervin)

Born in Iran, and educated in the United States, Ervin was the managing director of the department of statistics and international affairs at the Customs Administration of Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1980, Ms. Zand Ervin came to the United States as a political refugee and became a US citizen three years later. As a women’s rights activist and leading expert on Iranian affairs, she has been frequently consulted by Members of Congress and has testified at Congressional briefings, the Helsinki Commission, and the United Nations. In February 2008, Zand Ervin was appointed as the United States’ Delegate to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the featured speaker at the G8 Summit in Rome, on Violence against Women in 2009.  In 2012, she received the EMET Speaker of the Truth award.

Manda Zand Ervin is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, an organization that brings the voices of Iranian women living under the gender apartheid policies of the pan-Islamic establishment’s Sharia Laws to the West. Her articles have appeared in; American Thinker, the Washington Times, PJ Media, Gate Stone Institute and many others. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC and regularly speaks on human rights, women’s rights and Middle East issues. Readers are encourage to consult her interviews on the Alliance of Iranian Women.com.

The 2,800 Year Embrace in the Hasanlu Tomb

One of the most remarkable finds from ancient Iran pertains to skeletons of a male and a female discovered in a tomb at Tappeh Hasanlu, located in Naqadeh, West Azerbaijan Province, northwest Iran. As noted in the Ancient Origins website:

“The human remains of the “Hasanlu Lovers” were found in a bin with no objects. The only feature found is a stone slab under the head of the skeleton on the left hand side. The discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania led by Robert Dyson back in 1972.”

The “Lovers of Hasanlu” (Source: Ancient Origins website). As noted in the Ancient Origins website: “The two skeletons are close together facing each other, while the female skeleton on the left reaching out its right hand to touch the face of her lover on the right. They both have their arms around each other and have clear signs of severe injury and trauma on their bodies sustained around the time of their death. Experts believe that they died together by asphyxiation during the destruction of the Teppe Hasanlu citadel”.

The Hasanlu region in Iran’s northwest region was already settled by Iranian speaking peoples at the time and that these are most likely of the Avestan culture of which one of its manifestations was the Zoroastrian religion.The photo of the Hasanlu tomb containing the skeletons of a male and female in embrace were discussed by Kaveh Farrokh in his lecture “Women in Ancient Iran” during a conference on Iranian Women at Portland State University (April 20, 2013).

The main set of Zoroastrian texts composed in Avestan promote ideas of gender parity, which was a reflection of the nature of early Iranian society (Schwartz, 2007, pp. 4). As noted by Hintze this feature provides “a modern appearance on this ancient [Zoroastrian] religion” (2003, pp.  403). The egalitarianism of Women and Men is emphasized in Zoroastrianism , especially with respect to the honored status of women who are recognized as: “…men’s partners in the common struggle against evil” (Boyce, 1972, pp. 308, footnote 83).

 

A reconstruction by Cernenko and Gorelik of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle (Cernenko & Gorelik, 1989, Plate F). The ancient Avestan Iranians (those in ancient Persia and the ones in ancient Eastern Europe) often had women warriors and chieftains, a practice not unlike those of the contemporary ancient Celts in ancient Central and Western Europe. What is also notable is the costume of the Iranian female warrior – this type of dress continues to appear in parts of Luristan in Western Iran. 

The equality message of Zoroastrianism is declared by use of very specific and inclusive terminology. Four times in Yasna Haptaŋhāiti:

  1. Nar (man) and nāirī– “woman” are deliberately arranged together:
  2. Twice as part of fixed expression nāirī “a man or a woman” (Yasna Haptaŋhāiti: 35.6, 41.2)
  3. Twice as narąmcā nāirinąmcā “of men and women” (Yasna Haptaŋhāiti: 37.3, 39.2).
  4. iθānarō aθā jə̄naiiō (thus … men, so also women) (in Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, 53.6).

A diagram of Hasanlu Tepe, which is situated to the south of Lake Urmia iin Iran’s northwest (Source: Penn Museum).

Women are described as having moral and religious equality with men. For example, one of the Zoroastrian prayers beseech Aryaman to Nərəbiiascā Nāiribiiascā Zaraθuštrahe (come to the aid of the men and women of Zarathustra). As noted in the Holy Gathas (Aiwisruthrem Gah 9):

“We venerate the righteous woman who is good in thoughts, words, and deeds, who is well-educated, is an authority on religious affairs, is progressively serene, and is like the women who belong to the Wise God.”

In the Younger Avestan both sexes are warned:

“Nōit̰  cahmi zazuua yō nōit̰ urune zazuua. Nōit̰ cahmi zazuši yā nōit̰ urune zazuši” (He has not won anything who has not won [anything] for his soul. She has not won anything who has not won [anything] for her soul) (fragment FrD.3; Hoffmann, 1968, pp. 288).

As noted by Nigosian, in the Zoroastrian faith:

no distinction is made between the gendersboth occupy the same place of honor…on the same level in…power (1993, pp.81).

Two New courses for Fall 2018

Kaveh Farrokh is offering two new courses for the of Fall 2018 at the Paris-based Methodologica Universitas at the Départment de Méthodologie des Sciences Historiques.  See also the Institution’s Encyclopedic project:

Analytica Iranica: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Iranian Studies … Kaveh Farrokh is one of the Academic Advisors of this Encyclopedia project …

The first of these is the first course offered on the military history of ancient Iran or Persia:

Course HIS/CP/202: The Military History of Ancient Iran: 559 BCE-651 CE [Fall 2018, Methodologica Universitas, Départment de Méthodologie des Sciences Historiques]Click here for Registration Information

The course description for the above is as follows (HIS/SP/202):

This course examines Iran’s pre-Islamic military history with respect to political relations, wars, battles with Greece, Rome, Central Asia. These topics are examined in the Achaemenid (559-333 BCE), Parthian (250 BCE-224 CE) and Sassanian (224-651 CE) epochs. Methodology of the course utilizes scientific methodology in archival analysis (primary and secondary sources), numismatics (study of coins), archaeological analysis (analysis of equipment and technology), and statistical methodology (e.g. compiling data for analysis, factor analysis, etc.). The strengths and weaknesses (military, political and social) of each dynasty is examined up to the downfall of ancient Iran to the Arab conquests of Iran (637-651 CE). Detailed analysis is made of developments from the early Achaemenid era to the end of the Sassanian era with respect to equipment, technology, military architecture, military doctrine, and martial culture. Influences upon and from Greece, Rome, Central Asia and Eastern Europe are also examined. The course concludes with a survey of post-Islamic sources reporting of the extensive military literature pertaining to Sassanian weapons and tactics (battlefield tactics, siege craft, etc.) and its influence upon Islamic warfare.

Kaveh Farrokh meeting the late Professor Ehsan Yarshater (1920-2018) during the Honoring ceremony for the late Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye (1920-2014) in the Greater San Francisco area in 2008.

The second is a comprehensive course on the History of ancient Iran or Persia, which will incorporate modern research and academic methodologies incorporating anthropology, archaeology, the study of sources, numismatics, etc:

Course HIS/CP/203: The History of Ancient Iran: 559 BCE-651 CE [Fall 2018, Methodologica Universitas, Départment de Méthodologie des Sciences Historiques]Click here for Registration Information

Three Books published in 2017-2018 on the military history of Ancient Iran or Persia (from left to right): The Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians (2017; see book review by the Military History Journal in 2018); A Synopsis of Sassanian Military Organization and Combat Units (Kaveh Farrokh, Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Gholamreza Karamian, 2018); and The Siege of Amida (Kaveh Farrokh, Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Javier Sánchez-Gracia, 2018).

The course description for the above is as follows (HIS/CP/203):

Course begins with the pre Indo-European era of ancient Iran and the rise of proto-Iranian peoples and arrivals onto the Iranian plateau. Recent archaeological works and research of pre Indo-European Iran, such as the Burnt City and Elam are surveyed. This is followed by detailed historical surveys of the three epochs of ancient Iran: Achaemenids (559-333 BCE), Parthians (250 BCE-224 CE) and Sassanians (224-651 CE). Course material is integrated with methodology utilizing scientific methodology in archival analysis (primary and secondary sources), numismatics (study of coins), archaeological analysis (analysis of equipment and technology), and statistical methodology (e.g. compiling data for analysis, factor analysis, etc.). The political relations and cultural exchanges of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian dynasties with the Greco-Roman, Central Asian, Indian subcontinent, Caucasian, European and Chinese realms are examined. Each epoch is also examined with respect to developments in legal systems, societal development and the role of women, the arts, architecture, learning, medicine, technology, theology and religious philosophy, communications, shipping, commerce and the Silk Route.

[Above] Kaveh Farrokh’s second textShadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا-” cited by the BBC-Persian service as theBest History Book of 2007(November 5, 2008), as well as the by Kayhan News Service of London (November 12, 2008). The text was nominated by the Independent Book Publishers’ Association (Benjamin Franklin Award) among the top finalists for the Best textbooks of 2008. The book has been recognized by world-class scholars such as the late Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye (1920-2014), Harvard University, Dr. Geoffrey Greatrex, Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa, Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, School of HistoryUniversity of Edinburgh and Dr. Patrick Hunt. The book was reviewed in the world-class academic (peer-reviewed by top Iranian Studies scholars) Iranshenasi journal in 2010: Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War, by Dr. Kaveh Farrokh. Iranshenasi, Volume XXII, No.1, Spring 2010, pp.1-5 (see document in pdf). [Below] Translations of Shadows in the Desert [A] Persian translation by Taghe Bostan Publishers (2009) [B] Persian translation by Qoqnoos Publishers (2009) [C] the original textbook (2008) and [D] Russian translation by EXMO Publishers.