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