Amazon Graves Found in Kazakhstan
Amazon Graves Found in Kazakhstan
By Alexey Schetnikov
ALMATY, Apr 27, 2001 -- (Times of Central Asia)
Amazons - strong warlike women - were mentioned by many ancient
historians, including Herodotus, who traveled through Asia. The
Scythians were tribes that inhabited the vast areas around the Caspian
Sea and modern Kazakhstan.
The most populous and strongest were the Scythian tribes that lived in
Northern Kazakhstan. Herodotus wrote about Scythian nomads and
farmers who lived in the northern Caucasus -it was a well-developed
civilization for that time. Herodotus also wrote about the Scythian
men who married warlike women from Amazon tribes. In his opinion, this
explains the Scythian customs according to which a young woman may not
marry until she kills an enemy.
The Amazons were very cruel to tribes they conquered, particularly to
captive men, whom they killed with great cruelty. According to
Herodotus, Amazons cut their right breast off and then burned the
wound with hot iron in order to prevent them from hunting and drawing
a bow in battle.
However, despite evidence from Herodotus and other trustworthy
historians, many scholars believe that the tale of the Amazons is just
a beautiful myth. But the recent excavations conducted by Russian and
American archaeologists have shed new light on this amazing legend.
Kazakh archaeologists assisted greatly the Russian-American expedition
because Kazakh scholars were greatly interested in finding evidence to
prove that the Kazakhs are direct descendants from the Scythians, and
Salmats, who later replaced them. After a thorough examination all
finds will be displayed at the Astana Historical Museum in Kazakhstan.
The excavations were conducted at an area that can be called the Gate
of Peoples. Here, between the Caspian Sea and the Stone Belt
mountains, many ancient tribes moved from the east to the west, driven
by an unknown force. In the 6th-4th centuries BC an area of the Tobol
River in Western Siberia and the entire range of northern Kazakhstan
was inhabited by Salmats, a warlike nomadic tribe. In the 3rd century
BC they ousted the Scythians from the area around the Black Sea and
the Caucasus. Here they found a common language with the Amazons and
The expedition found 40 women's graves, seven of which contained items
not typical of the gentler sex - armors, weapons, and horse harness.
All these things - bronze arrowheads, daggers, and swords - were of
normal size and showed signs that they had been used frequently for
military purposes. This rules out the suggestion that all these
articles were just symbolic and used for only ritual purposes.
The only difference was that the handles of the swords and daggers
found in the women's graves were shorter than those found in the men's
graves. Probably these weapons were made especially for women, with
their comparatively small hands. One can also suggest that these were
hunting weapons. However, the Amazons' graves contained many sheep,
horse, and camel skins and bones but no bones of wild animals. This
proves that these tribes were not hunters but nomadic cattle-breeders.
Another fact, proving the Amazon theory is that military tattoos on
remnants of the skin of both the men and women. According to many
ancient sources, including Herodotus, a warrior made a special tattoo
after killing each enemy soldier. Such tattoo emblems varied from
totem animals (like the heads of a wolf or bear) to the skull crossed
The archaeologists also found 68 bronze articles, including
axes, daggers with beautifully decorated handles, and decorations
shaped as armors. But the most interesting finding was that these
articles originated from four regions - the Caucasus, Volga basin,
Kazakhstan, and Central Asia.
So this ancient treasure testifies to direct contacts between the
Caucasus, Central Asia, and other Eurasian regions.
Chemical analysis of these finds revealed a wide diversity of
kinds of bronze. So, daggers and axes were cast from the arsenic
bronze and some arrow-heads and armors - from tin-arsenic bronze.
These kinds of bronze originated from different and very distant areas
of the Caucasus, Ural, and Kazakhstan.
On this territory archaeologists have already found weapons in
women's graves in the 1950s, but these were just occasional finds that
could not make up the full picture. Today, after the discovery of such
a large Amazon grave, the international archaeological community will
probably be convinced that women played a role in ancient nomadic
"If we find in a grave weapons beside a men's skeleton, we are sure
that he was a warrior. So a similar conclusion is logical when we deal
with women's remnants," agreed an outstanding American archaeologist,
Philip Cowell. The results of the Russian-American expedition have
been recognized by the Royal Geographic Society, which was a
co-sponsor of the excavations. It has been also decided to finance
further excavations in this region.
(C) 2001 Times of Central Asia