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Were there ever any real Amazon warrior women?
The myths and legends of the Amazons are fascinating and telling of the Greek culture they enthralled and through them, our own culture as well.
We marvel at Wonder Woman and other characters that represent female power. Although we view such symbols as a modern-day phenomenon, they aren't new. They go back to the roots of western civilization and beyond. Greek myth, the stories of Homer and the writings of Herodotus all mention a band of fierce and skilled warrior women. Wonder Woman was based, partly, on these legends from antiquity.
Reports from ancient Persia (Iran) and China tell similar tales of horsewomen archers from the steppe—the grasslands of central Asia. Whether they existed or not was a preoccupation of folklorists and classicists in the 20th century, with some claiming the Greeks mistook beardless, weapon-wielding Mongols for female warriors. Still, there was enough written about Amazons from the ancient world to lead many scholars to believe they had existed.
Among the first places Amazons appear is in the myths of Heracles and Theseus. In fact, one of Heracles's (Hercules in Latin) labors was to secure the magic girdle of the Amazon queen, Hippolyte. While with Theseus, the supposed founder of Athens who united the Greeks, the Amazons came howling into the city, starting what came to be known as the Attic War, only to be repelled by the cagey hero and his forces.
This is symbolically taken for Greek civilization subjugating the untamed attributes of the female spirit. And yet, the bravery and headstrong nature of these women was so intriguing that in the end, the Amazons were celebrated in ancient Greece. Archeologists, for instance, have excavated Amazon dolls, which were among the favorite playthings of young Greek girls.
A mosaic depicting a Greek warrior grabbing an Amazon by her cap. 4th century CE. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
So how did the name Amazon come about? One Greek scholar confused the meaning of a foreign word, "mazon" for the Greek word for "breast." While "a" meant "without." He explained that the Amazons removed their right breast in order to be better able to draw a bowstring or throw a javelin. Of course, female professional archers today compete just as well with both their breasts. And curiously, in all Greek art depicting them, the Amazons are dual-breasted.
These storied warrior women appear in the Iliad, a timeless and sweeping epic poem attributed to the blind poet Homer, which is said to have been written somewhere between the 7th and 8th century BCE. Here, they are depicted as matching a man in courage, horsemanship, and skill in battle. They fought on the side of Troy.
Amazons in this work didn't carry on relationships with men, but rather, mated with opponents and only raised the female offspring. Later on, the poet Arktinos of Miletus added another element to the story, a duel between Achilles and a skilled Amazon princess. When the mighty Greek dealt the death stroke, his opponent's helmet slipped, revealing the beautiful face of a woman underneath, which Achilles instantly fell in love with at the moment of her death.
According to Herodotus (484–425 BCE), the Amazons weren't a female-only society. Instead, the women fought alongside their men. Skilled as riders and with a bow and arrow, they spurned the domestic sphere to ride and fight all over the plains of Scythia--what is today the Ukraine, parts of Russia, and Kazakhstan. According to the famed historian, Amazons weren't allowed to marry until they killed their first enemy in battle.
The so-called “Father of History" noted that they could be found around the Black Sea and in around northern Turkey. To support themselves, they went on pillaging sprees now and again to enrich their capitol and a handful of surrounding towns. This story reflects an underlying fear the Greeks had of female power, especially since Greek women were relegated to the domestic sphere.
The Amazons also embodied the wild barbarism that existed on the fringes of the Greek world. But these female warriors also became symbols of strength, eroticism, exotic lands, romance, and adventure. Depictions of Amazons in art became so popular that by the 6th century, they were emblazoned on every kind of household item, on pottery, in jewelry, and even in friezes.
An Amazon emblazoned on ancient Greek pot. 510–500 BCE. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
There is one story by Herodotus that is particularly important for our purposes. It tells of a group of Greek warriors who, after traversing the steppe of Northern Turkey, captured a group of warrior women and locked them in their ship's hold. The Amazons escaped, slew their captors and upon landing, acquired horses and raided for sustenance. This occurred near a city inhabited by the Scythians.
Soon, these women had male callers visiting their camp from the nearby city. Legend has it that the suitors invited the women to come live in the city with them, to which the women replied, why not join us instead, hunting, raiding, and galloping across the steppe? The pairs left for adventure and eventually became the Sauromatians, raiders, and traders who even later evolved into the Sarmatian culture. This group eventually were taken over by an intermarried with the Huns and the Goths.
So what does the archeological evidence point to? In the 1990s, a joint US-Russian effort allowed archeologists to examine a number of kurgans or burial mounts in the Ural Steppes of southern Russia, near the Kazakhstan border. Among 150, 2,000-year-old graves, archeologists found the remains of women as well as men buried with swords, shields, spears, quivers of arrows, and other weapons of war. Since then, several further excavations tell us as many as 37 percent of the kurgans contain the mortal remains of a female warrior.
A Sarmatian kurgan 4th century BCE, Fillipovka, South Urals, Russia. This kurgan was excavated in a dig led by Russian Academy of Sciences Archeology Institute Prof. L. Yablonsky in the summer of 2006. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
The skeletons of these women are bow-legged, illustrating a life on horseback. They carry battle scars as any male warrior might, many from battle axes, suggesting face-to-face combat. On average, they were 5 ft. 6 in. tall, which was extremely lofty for that day. The Scythians were thought to be a nomadic culture from around the Black Sea, and merchants from the area must have exchanged tales about them, which eventually got back to Greece. Stanford classicist and author Adrienne Mayor wrote a book about them, The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World.
She told The New Yorker, “a wealth of archaeological discoveries show that there were women who behaved like Amazons — who wore the same clothes, who used weapons, who rode horses, and who lived at the same time as the ancient Greeks." So what allowed the Amazons to excel in a hyper-masculine world? “The horse was the great equalizer," she said, “along with the bow and arrow, which meant that a woman could be just as fast, just as deadly, as a man."
To learn more about the historical Amazons, click here.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.