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).

Ancient Qanat discovered in Southern Iran

The report Ancient Qanat found in southern Iran” was first reported by the Tehran Times on November 15, 2018. The version below has been edited slightly. Readers are also referred to:

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Residents of Rostaq, a rural district in Iran’s southern Fars province, have discovered an ancient qanat, which is estimated to date from some 2,000 years ago.

A piece of orange-colored pottery with a diameter of 2 centimeters was found next within the aqueduct, which is probably related to the Parthian era (247 BC–224 CE), as reported by IRNA. As noted by a local official:

“The aqueduct is probably associated with a mother well and several shaft friction structures. Inside the aqueduct was completely flawless and there were only some sedimentary material created over time at the bottom of the canals”

The ingress of a Parthia-era qanat or aqueduct discovered in Rostaq (Source: Tehran Times).

According to the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, some 120,000 qanats have so far been recognized across Iran, of which some 37,000 are still in use in arid and semi-arid regions.

The concept of Persian Qanat, which provides exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas, was registered on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2016.

Archaeological Finds in Mazandaran, Northern Iran

The photographs below are from the Facebook page [‎باستان شناسی و تاریخ مازندران- Archaeology and history of Mazandaran –  the site however is currently closed] which often posts archaeological finds in the area. Below are photographs of some of these finds: the first is a coin from the Sassanian era with the other archaeological finds dated to the post-Sassanian era.

Bahram II Queen Prince reign 276-293 CE-bSassanian era coin of  Bahram II (r. 276-293 CE) alongside his Queen and Prince (Source: Facebook page ‎باستان شناسی و تاریخ مازندران- Archaeology and history of Mazandaran).

 

Tabristan 10 century CEGlazed earthenware bowl with leopard depiction confronting serpentine figure, Northern Iran (possibly Tabaristan region), 10th century CE (Source:Facebook page ‎باستان شناسی و تاریخ مازندران- Archaeology and history of Mazandaran).

 

Stucco-1-MazandaranExcavated section of the collapsed building structure at Mazandaran, Buwayhid dynasty (Source: Facebook page ‎باستان شناسی و تاریخ مازندران- Archaeology and history of Mazandaran). The floral and leaf patterns appear to be (pre-Islamic) Sassanian in inspiration.

 

Stucco-4-Mazandaran-Western entranceCollapsed ceiling Stucco of western entrance way to the building structure, Buwayhid dynasty (Source: Facebook page ‎باستان شناسی و تاریخ مازندران- Archaeology and history of Mazandaran). As with the previous photograph, the patterns inset within the circles appear to be (pre-Islamic) Sassanian in inspiration.

Book: Tappeh Sialk, The Glory Of Ancient Kashan

The Iran Heritage Foundation and Payvand News of Iran announced on December 16, 2019 of a new book entitled:

Tappeh Sialk: The Glory Of Ancient Kashan

View contents page | Panoramic view | Wikipedia
£25 + P&P
To order a copy of the book contact the distributor:
Email: contact@bourchier.org
Telephone: +44 (0)1666 503242

The textbook has been edited by the following scholars:

  • Jebrael Nokandeh: Director of the National Museum of Iran
  • John Curtis: Chief Executive Officer of the Iran Heritage Foundation
  • Marielle Pic: Director of the Department of Oriental Antiquities, Musee du Louvre

The information below is the news release from the Iran Heritage Foundation pertaining to the textbook:

Tappeh Sialk on the outskirts of modern Kashan is arguably the most important ancient site in Iran before the rise of the Persian Empire in 550 BCE. Excavations here in the 1930s by a French team and by Iranian teams from 2000 AD onwards have cast light on the history of Iran from 6000 BCE onwards, spanning the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. These results have been so significant that Tappeh Sialk has become a ‘type-site’ for Iranian archaeology and has provided a chronological framework against which other sites in Iran can be measured.

In addition, the spectacular finds from two cemeteries at Sialk now grace museums in Tehran and Paris as well as in other parts of the world. In view of the special importance of Tappeh Sialk, two international conferences were held at Asia House in London in 2017 and 2018 with the intention of reviewing what is known about the site and how it may best be protected and promoted in the future.  A selection of papers delivered at the first two conferences is published in this volume. This is the first volume in a series of IHF special studies.

For more information with respect to pre-Achaemenid era Iran (as far back as the Neolithic era), kindly click the image below:

Preserving the Buddhist Stupa Structure in Topdara, Afghanistan

The article below was originally published as “Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Afghanistan” by the World Cultural Heritage Voices (CHV) outlet on October 17, 2018. Note that the photo and the accompanying caption do not appear in the original CHV outlet.

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The site of Topdara near Charikar in Parwan province, was built around the 4th century CE. Since 2016 the Afghan Cultural Heritage Consulting Organization (ACHCO) has been restoring the sites massive stupa (a holy structure from the Buddhist era). This stupa at Topdara has a diameter of 23 meters and would have originally been covered in white plaster.

The Buddhist stupa structure at Topdara, Parwan province in Afghanistan (Source: The Buddhist Forum). The CHV outlet traces the origins of the site to the 4th CE, during the Sassanian era – the Buddhist Forum states that the site originates in the 1st to 2nd centuries CE, making this contemporary to the Kushan and Parthian empires.

With support from the United States Embassy, ACHCO and the Archaeological Institute of Afghanistan will continue their valuable work to restore this important heritage site for Afghanistan and to continue archaeological excavations to better understand the site’s significance for Asia.