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The Amazons

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Isis
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« on: February 18, 2007, 04:45:20 am »

The Amazons
Introduction




The Amazons were a race of warrior women within Ancient Greek civilization. Though their origins remain in dispute, the lands most connected to the Amazons are Libya, Thermiscrya on the Anatolia peninsula of modern day Turkey, and the Black Sea region of Eurasia. Until quite recently archaeological evidence concerning the Amazons has been scant, but highly suggestive that indeed a mythic race of warrior women may have fought along side men with equal status. Yet, such evidence does not follow with the traditional Greek mythic view of the Amazons. The Amazons in Greek myth were an entirely autonomous race, with entirely different customs than that of mainland Greece (or for that matter the Pelloponessus), and their prominent presence within Greek mythology served a very suggestive purpose within Greek myths. This purpose whether to reinforce the status quo, or the patriarchy of classical Greece, lends itself open to interpretation. Thus, there are two views of the Amazons which have taken a prominent place within the research sphere on the Amazons. Namely, up until very recently (in the 1990s) the Amazon's were seen only as a mythological phenomena. Only recently has archaeological evidence suggested the existence of the Amazons (and evidence is still being unearthed through out Eurasia). Taken as either an archaeological phenomena, myth, or a mixture of both, a picture of the Greek Amazons can be gleaned. The following pages examine the Amazons, in their mythical, cosmological, and archaeological aspects
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Isis
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2007, 04:47:57 am »

Myths of the Amazons

There are several myths surrounding the Amazons in Ancient Greek mythology. These myths often involve a mythic hero, a battle, and later, a defeat of the Amazons. Of the three most known myths were, the account Diodorus gives of the Amazons in Atlantis, the twelve labors of Hercules, and Theseus and Panthesilia. There are many other myths about the Amazons, but the above mentioned are the main three. Click on the Myth below, following a description of the myth is an analysis of the myths possible meaning, etc.

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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2007, 04:49:08 am »

The Amazons in Atlantis
 
(Gorgon)

 

Diodorus, (340BC - ?) a scholar/historian of ancient Greece wrote of the origins of the Amazons as dating back to the ancient time of Atlantis. In his account, the Amazons lived in western Libya, the land of civilized people, and from where the gods came. According to Diodorus, the Amazon's culture and customs were the exact opposite to that of normal day Greece (and in Atlantis). It was the men who worked in the domestic sphere of life, while the women partook of politics, the art of war, and who were required to serve in the army for several years during their adolescence. Diodorus states that only after a woman had finished her time within the army was she allowed procreative liberty. When a child was born, the men took care of the children, who depending on sex were treated in differing ways. While a boy would earn a mundane and domestic existence, the girls were subject to a tradition of breast demarcation, where either the right or left breast was seared. According to Diodorus this demarcation was "For they thought that the breasts, as they might not develop at the time of maturity; for they thought that the breasts, as they stood out from the body, were no small hindrance in warfare; and in fact it is because they have been deprived of their breasts that they are called by the Greeks Amazons."

The tale of Atlantis thus continues with the queen of the Amazons, Myrina, setting out to lay siege on Atlantis. The Amazons took the city of Cerne in Atlantis, and the Atlantians bowed to their rule (with some resistance). After the Amazons took over they were expected to kill the Gorgons from the west who were constantly attacking Atlantis. The Gorgons were a group of medusa like creatures. Before the Amazons battled the Gorgons, there was an uprising in a city where half of the Amazons were killed by their own swords while they slept, by the native peoples. Still unrelenting, the Amazons went up against the Gorgons and only half won. Eventually it took Perseus to finish off the Gorgons.

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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2007, 04:50:03 am »

Interpretation of The Atlantian Myth


The Atlantian myth is a prime example of a reverse gender, or alien other myth. In a reverse gender myth, everything which happens in a normal society or civilization, is the opposite. In Greek society women held domain over all of the domestic duties of the house, and were not allowed to participate in the art of war, politics, etc. Such reverse role myths serve several purposes within many cultures. First, they reinforce the status quo by portraying how unnatural it would be if the opposite were true in a civilization. Second, the myth serves to reinforce the patriarchy of ancient Greece. As women are only half able to handle the Gorgons (representative of the sublime female force, and an absolute terror to men), it finally takes a mythic hero such as Perseus to battle the Gorgons and finish them off. This in combination with other aspects of the myth lend to the hypothesis that the myth in combination with others served to also reinforce the fact that women could not handle power, and that their role in the myth above (as warriors) was in some way unnatural.

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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2007, 04:51:29 am »

The Twelve Labors of Hercules

Hercules was a mythic hero in Greek mythology, his endeavors brought him from being a mortal into the realm of immortal. Hercules, the son of Zeus, and was born from a union between Zues and Alcmena (a mortal).Hercules was forced to perform twelve labors because after Hera smited him with a fit of insane rage, he killed his wife Megara, and his children. After this act, Hercules exiled himself and sought out the Pythia (Delphian priestess), at Delphi. The oracle at Delphi instructed Hercules to spend time as a servant to Eurystheus, in Tyrins. Eurystheus sent Hercules to commit to twelve labors in order to purge/cleanse himself from the murder of his wife and children.

 
Hercules' twelve labors were as follows:

Slay the Nemean Lion

Slay the Hydra of Lerna

Capture the Cernthis Hind

Trap the Erymanthian Boar

Clean the Augean Stables

Get rid of the man eating Stymphalian Birds

Capture the Cretan Bull

Capture the cannibalistic horses of Diomedes

Capture Hippolyte's Girdle (Hippolyte was the queen of the Amazons)

Capture the Cattle of Geyron.

Slay the Dragon which guarded the apples of Hesperides.

Capture Cerebus the three headed dog.



The capturing of Hippolyte's girdle takes on a great importance concerning the Amazons. Hippolyte possessed a golden girdle given to her by Ares (god of war), Some sources say that Hercules raped Hippolyte in order to take the girdle, but other sources say she gave it willfully. In either case, whether the Hercules took is forcefully or not, the other Amazon's retaliated against Hercules. Hercules battled with the Amazons until none were left, and within modern Greece this event served to explain why there were no Amazons in the Black Sea region when the Greeks arrived to the area in 650 BC (for trade mostly the actual date remains sketchy).

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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2007, 04:52:55 am »

Interpretation of The Twelve Labors of Hercules

The twelve labors of Hercules all involve the taming, capture, cleaning (the cleaning of the Augean Stables), or slaying of wild beasts. Taken in this context the labor of taking Hippolyte's girdle stands out. The myth serves not only to explain (according to the Greeks), why there were no Amazons in the Thermiscrya region of the Anatolia peninsula, but also show the unnatural or dangerous side to a woman not bound by the traditions of Ancient Greece. In a sense, a woman who was not bound by marriage or the customs of Greece was dangerous. The Amazons represented a way of life entirely the opposite of "normal" civilized Greece, and thus would pose a threat to such a mythical hero's as Hercules, Theseus, or Perseus. Similarly, the Amazons in this context represent a threat to the natural order of Greek civilization, and must be tamed or killed in response.



 
 
(A wounded Amazon)
 
Achilles and Panthesilia
During the Trojan war Achilles found Panthesilia, an Amazon. Achilles was another hero in Greek myth, whose only weakness in battle was his heel (hence the term Achilles' heel). In myth, Achilles is represented as somewhat wild. At a very young age he disobeyed his teacher, Chiron (a centaur), becomes a general at fifteen, and lays siege to many cities through out Greece. Panthesilia alternately was a great Amazon warrior, who accidentally killed Hippolyte, but received cleansing, and thus led a legion of Amazons into combat at Troy.

The myth thus follows that Panthesilia's legion and Achilles' legion met in Troy and battle one another, but when Panthesilia is struck down and killed by Achilles, he follows the custom of claiming his enemy's armor. After removing her armor he openly weeps over the beauty of the now dead Panthesilia, and in some myths rapes her.

Interpretation of Achilles and Panthesilia
What happens after the battle with Achilles is what makes the myth largely questionable in relation to the Amazons. Of the many variations to the story, one source places her being killed by Achilles and not being raped .Another places her as being raped and given a warrior's funeral.Yet one other places her as just being wounded (in which case she is tortured to death and killed without honor, the ultimate defamation of an Amazon warrior). In any of the cases above, the idea that the Amazons still held onto their femininity though they were female warriors remains constant, and the significance of the myth brings to light this fact.

Ironically, later retellings of the myth of Panthesilia offer some light into what the Amazons may have meant to later civilizations, specifically during the Victorian era. Heinrich Von Kliest's play, "Panthesilia: A Tragic Drama", demonstrates the view of Amazons during the Victorian era. In his work, Panthesilia and Achilles have a masochistic relationship toward one another. Panthesilia who wants a child by Achilles joins his army, accompanied by other Amazons, and is killed in battle when she becomes enamored by a suit of metal an opposing soldier wears. Within the play the Amazons are portrayed as blood thirsty man killers; berserkers in one instance, but compassionate women in the next. Throughout Heinrich's work, the Amazons, because of their femininity, are at a loss as warriors, and are therefore subject to the problems of their own biological urges. Though his work did not reach great heights of popularity, it does display the general view of the Victorian era that women were of the "fairer" and "the weaker" sex to men.

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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2007, 04:54:56 am »

The Gods of the Amazons

The Amazons' main pantheon of deities were Artemis, Ares, and Cybele. These three deities however are not exclusive to the Amazons. Namely, alternative theories state that the Amazons worshipped Artemis (in all of her aspects), Ares, Cybele, Astraea (daughter of Themis), Hecate, and Athena, as well as other deities (some sources have gone so far as to state the Amazons worshipped Indian, or non-native gods). The Amazon deities represent several archetypes which related to the Amazon way of life.

 
Ares

The worship of Ares in the Amazon pantheon is obvious in relation to their way of life. Ares, the Greek god of war, held domain over battles, warriors, soldiers, but was also affected by the rage of war (hence he's been given the attribute of a berserker).


 
Artemis
 
The worship of Cybele and Artemis are also in direct relation to the Amazons' way of life. Both Cybele and Artemis are goddesses representative of the moon. The moon throughout history has been seen as a symbol of the feminine; its regular cycles correspond to the lifecycles of women: maiden, mother, and crone. Both Cybele and Artemis were connected to the moon with many different aspects, not entirely corresponding to the triad of maiden, mother and crone. For example, the goddess Artemis, was known and celebrated as Artemis Brauron, and in her most violent aspect the tauropolos. Artemis's main domain was over childbirth, hunting, the protection of small children, the healing of small children, the protection of girls, etc. She also held special significance as the goddess over adolescence, and childhood. The goddess Cybele (also known as the Titan Rhea), held significance as a goddess of the moon and of fertility, but was also worshipped in her earthly aspects as a fertility deity. Both Cybele and Artemis are largely a contrast to one another. Artemis who represented a wild sense of feminity in one instance, and in another represented a nurturing aspect, in quite another was the sublime virgin goddess. This virginity was held in such high regard within the myths of Artemis, that in one, when Actaeon sees the goddess bathing, he is turned into a stag by Artemis and his hunting dogs tear him apart. Rarely, if at all, is Artemis ever seen as a goddess with domain over motherhood (the closest she comes is holding domain over childbirth, owing to her painless birth by Leto). Cybele alternately, (also known as Rhea) was the Titan mother of the Olympian gods, who held domain over fertility, the earth, etc. Though it was through the union of the Titans Rhea and Chronos that Zeus was born, and later from Zeus and Leto (who was also born from the Titans Phoebe and Coeus), that Artemis was born, there is little to support that Cybele was an incorporated aspect of Artemis, though Cybele was probably worshipped by the Amazons. Taken together, the worship of both goddesses do not suggest that Amazon worship was a compilation of maiden, mother, and crone aspects, rather than each goddess had their own aspects as were thought of as separate deities.

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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2007, 04:56:22 am »

Artemis and Her Aspects


Worship of the Goddess Artemis took place throughout the Ancient Greek world. In Athens, the festival of Artemis Brauron was celebrated to commemorate the myth of Callisto. Within the myth, Artemis turns Callisto (one of her nymphs) into a she-bear after finding out that she had became pregnant by Zeus. Artemis required of her nymphs (and followers for that matter), to uphold the same chaste existence that she did. In the festival of Brauron, several Athenian girls were chosen to serve as she-bears in the temple of Artemis. These girls ranging from the age of 5 to 10 would act as she-bears, performing service to the community in commemoration of the myth. Little is known about what actually happened during the festival of Brauron in the ritualistic sense, however as a rite of passage for a few girls, the festival itself was part of a chain of other festivals to make a young girls transition from one position or aspect of life to another. In particular, before the marriage of an Athenian girl, she was expected to give up all of her childhood toys and to bring them to the temple of Artemis, in effect this event exemplifies the transition from the life of a wild youth, to that of a "civilized" or married woman.

The symbolism of the festival of Brauron and the worship of Artemis, takes place on several levels. The Festival of Brauron marks a time when two girls symbolically serve the community and act as she bears. Such a myth delves into the Athenian (and possibly further the general Greek), view of women and their transition from one phase of life to another. A girl in Ancient Greece was expected to marry, and thus have children. Thus, in committing to marriage they were no longer virgins, and the festival of Brauron possibly served the purpose of atoning for the eventual loss of a girls' virginity (or even the entire communities). Similarly, the goddess Artemis held domain over the country dwelling women, over childbirth and childhood, nature, etc. all aspects which take and place a young woman or girl outside of the city (or polis), into the realm of natural, unbridled, and wild. When a girl in Athens married they gave up their toys to Artemis, in effect making their transition from the wild days of their girlhood, to their eventual womanhood.
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2007, 04:57:20 am »

In the case of the Amazons, who were seen by the Greeks as wild women, the worship of Artemis takes on a dual meaning. While Artemis represented a goddess of nature, the hunt, childbirth, and other aspects feminine, she also had her darker aspects. Namely, wild women in Greece, especially those such as the Amazons were seen as unnatural. Either the Amazons were seen as man hating killers, or as wild women, in either case they were outside of the social norms of classical Greek societies such as Athens. Thus, it is not beyond theory to assume that the Amazons stood outside of normal Greek civilization, in the realm of wild and unbridled nature, and in the completely mythological sense, they served as examples of the fierceness of an untamed, unmarried, or uncivilized woman or girl.

A mythological analysis of Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, illustrate the view that Amazon women stood out from the rest of Greek civilization. The table above lists the geneaology of the Gods, Artemis and Apollo. Artemis and Apollo were twins. Their parents were Zeus and Leto. Leto's parents were Phoebe, Titan of the Moon, and Coes, Titan of intelligence. Zeus's parents were Chronos, Titan over all the universe (until the Olympian gods took over), and the Titan Rhea, who held domain over all the earth.

The attributes of Artemis and Apollo are not in direct dichotomy to one another, though they are different. Artemis was born on the island of Ortyegia before her brother Apollo. Apollo was born on the island of Cynthas, near Delos. The attributes of Artemis follow: she held domain over childbirth, women of the countryside, the protection of animals, hunting, etc. Her brother Apollo held domain over healing, prophecy (he held domain over the oracle of Delphi), music, poetry, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, science, and archery. Both deities occupy two differing positions in Greek society. Namely, as Apollo is male, his main domain lay within the arts that would be practiced by usual Athenian or Greek citizen men within the city, the "civilized" arts included: music, philosophy, astronomy, etc. All of his aspects which were to the exclusion of women in classical Greece. Similarly in the myth of Hyacinth where, in the midst of a game of quoits (discus), Apollo throws the discus and accidentally hits and kills Hyacinthus a close male friend of his. Apollo is saddened so much that he creates the Hyacinth flower, which has the initials of H and A on the petals. It is not beyond speculation that the relationship between Apollo and Hyacinthus had possible homosexual overtones, which would not be unusual for the typical male of classical Greek society. In addition, Apollo was fed by the goddess Themis, sweet nectar and ambrosia. Themis is the goddess of right order, laws, mother of the fates, and hours (seasons). The appearance of this note in the Greek myth suggests that Apollo was born (as a representative of the traditional Greek male), into the concept of a natural order, or the natural way things should be in Greek civilization. Hence, Apollo symbolizes the typical Greek male, and does so as it is a part of the natural order. The domain of Artemis in contrast represents the traditional view and standing of women in ancient Greece. This contrast illustrates the difference between men and women in mythological thought, that women were closer to nature, were mysterious, had the power of life and death, and that they held domain over women's work in life. The emphasis on virginity when a girl married also fits into the domain of Artemis, in that in Athenian society, it was written by Vernant, that "Girls were meant to be kept, while boys were mean to be taught (cultured, etc.)."

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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2007, 05:00:12 am »

Geneaology and Traits of Artemis and Apollo
Cronos - Ruler of the Universe (Prior to the Olympian take over)   Rhea - Ruler over the Earth
      
 
Zeus    
 


Artemis
Domain - Eternal Virgin. Goddess of the Hunt. Held rule in Athens (and other parts) over Childbirth (because of Leto's painless birth), childhood (childhood diseases), Adolescence. Had many differing aspects or archetypes the most violent was the tauropolos).
•   Goddess of the places outside of the city.
•   Held domain over women in the countryside.
•   Artemis of Brauron.
•   Power of plagues and Sudden Death
•   Goddess aspect/archetype of the moon. (Other aspects as Cybele(?)/Selene/Hecate).
•   Required virginity as a prime aspect.
Birth - Born on Ortyegia or Delos (either is disputable). Born before Apollo, a painless birth. Because of the painless birth she was given domain over childbirth.
Relationship to Women - Artemis was one of the Amazons prime deities worshipped. Her violent and non-violent aspects were emphasized.
Artemis of Brauron - Callisto was seduced by Zeus, and Artemis noticed she was with child. At this she turned her into a bear. Zeus saved Callisto at the last minute, and thus she held domain in the sky over the star Spica. Hence the festival of Brauron, is a rememberance of that. . . . The festival of Brauron involved girls acting and dressing up like bears. Within the festival of Brauron, the girls spent a certain amount of time in the temple, acting like she-bears, and doing work for the community, symbols of atonement for Callisto's act. (was done yearly and only with a few girls involved.
•   Only girls age 5 to 10 were Allowed to participate in the rite, and they were chosen early on. Probably was a much larger rite lateron       

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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2007, 05:01:58 am »



Apollo
Domain - Healing, Music, Intellect, Seer, Archer, Patron of the Arts, Slayer of the Serpent which went after Leto (Serpent was originally sent by Hera who didn't like Zeus' consorting, etc).
•   Music
•   Poetry
•   Philosophy
•   Astronomy
•   Mathematics
•   Medicine
•   Science
•   Archery
Birth - Born on mount Cynthas near Delos - Right after Artemis. Was fed with nectar/ambrosia, etc. by Themis.
•   Themis - Goddess of Order and Laws, was the original holder of the Delphian oracle until Apollo killed the serpent which guarded it. Themis is closely tied to the Fates, and Hours (seasons and time/prophets/destiny).
Relationship with Hyacinthus - Flying discus possibly diverted by the western wind (Zephyrus) Zephyrus was jealous of Hyacinthus' relationship with Apollo, and sent it askew.
(Takes on Intellect of Coeus)
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2007, 05:03:37 am »

The Archaeology of the Amazons


Archaeological research into the existence of the Amazons is only a recent phenomena. For years the Amazons were thought of as a purely mythological phenomena with little backing in scientific evidence. It was not until quite recently (within the mid-90's) that excavations in the Altai mountain range of Mongolia, that actual hard evidence surfaced which could possible relate to the Amazons (the research is continually on-going, please visit the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads for more information and current excavations). In 1993, Natalia Polosmak set out for the Ukok Plateau, precariously located where four countries, China, Russia, Kazikstan, and Mongolia, meet. Polosmak and her team of archaeologists set out to unearth a kurgan, a burial structure of an ancient peoples known as the Pazyryk. When the excavation of the kurgan concluded, Polosomak and her team had found the remains of an ancient Pazyryk woman. The unearthed Pazyryk woman was tall, 5'7", deliberately mummified, had elaborate tattoo's on her amazingly well preserved skin, was surrounded by numerous burial goods including an extremely long feathered head piece, and was buried in a coffin carved from an entire larch tree. The find was dated to around the 5th century BC, around the time of Herodotus.


 
(Migration map of the Scythians from the Altai Mountain region)
Polosomak's find is commonly referred to as the 'Siberian ice maiden', and is only one find of many which has added to a continuum of information about the Eurasian nomads since the time of ancient Greece. Following Polosomak's discovery, other unearthed kurgans have had similar finds, mummified bodies with elaborate tattoos, some buried with horses, and in some instances, women and men buried with weapons, which obviously were not for ornamental purposes. Some of the mummified bodies show signs of being bow-legged, indicative of a life led on horseback. Other bodies show wear from battle wounds or similar disputes. Such finds indicate several things, that life within the Eurasian steppes during the 5th century was difficult, and that the tribe to which the ice-maiden belonged was nomadic, traveled a great deal, and held the status of women greatly.

Although further evidence remains to be found, theories have circulated that the ice maiden and her tribe were in fact a part of a nomadic tribe known as the Scythians. The Scythians settled into the northern part of modern day Turkey and the Black Sea region during the 7th century BC and continued their occupation of that territory well into the 5th century BC. The Scythians had an extensive artistic tradition, and a knowledge of the equestrian arts. Similarities do exist between the artistic style and lifestyles of the ice maiden, and the Scythian peoples. According to numerous sources, the Scythians originally came from the Altai mountain region of Eurasia.

According to Herodotus the Scythians incorporated the Amazons into their tribe. According to Greek myth the Amazons existed as a completely autonomous tribe. The obvious questions thus follow: were the Amazons actually Scythian women who fought alongside the men, were they a branch off the original Scythian tribe who chose to live by the tenets ascribed to them by classical Greek myth, or did they just exist as an extended myth influenced by the high status the Scythians attributed to women? These questions cannot be entirely ascertained from present archaeological evidence. Certainly the Scythians held the status of women to a high degree, and burials have been found where women show actual signs of being in battle or of leading a tough life, but were these women the actual Amazons of Greek mythology?

 The evidence at present about the Amazons suggests several things. First, the Amazons were a mythological phenomena. The myths examined within these pages have shown the functional light at which the myths of the Amazons can be taken. As a purely mythological phenomena, the archetype of a strong warrior or Amazon, presents a typical reverse role or alien other myth. Such alien other or reverse role myths, are found through out many cultures and serve to reinforce a societies social norms. Second, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that the Amazons did exist in a limited context physically within the past. This archaeological evidence suggests a relation to the nomadic Scythian tribe of Eurasia, where women obviously had high status and did fight in battle (though more research into this area obviously needs to be done). Third, more research into the topic of the Amazons needs to be done. Though archaeological evidence continues to be unearthed there are many questions left unanswered about the Amazons. It is unknown whether the Amazons were an autonomous tribe who were incorporated into the Scythians, or whether the Amazons were already an aspect of the Scythians to begin with. The sources on many points of Amazon research are conflicting and questionable. Did the Amazons of Ancient Greece exist? Most likely so. The possibility of their existence whether in myth or reality leaves many doors open to research. In addition for many the popular archetype of a strong female warrior woman holds very strongly in the minds of many women, and has inspired many playwrights and poets through out history. For this reason the myths of the Amazons are important, and shall continue to be important.
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2007, 05:13:20 am »

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nikas
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2007, 02:33:16 pm »

Ok guys I have discovered something off the Coast of Mediterranean Sea. It looks like a fortress or something. It’s not far from my mosaic. I believe it has something to do with either gorgonians or Amazons. Unfortunately, I am not very knowledgeable on the subject. So I need help to make some sense out of this……..I don’t know if it is natural but the distance between the two sides is precise 2km, something unnatural for a natural wall.
This is open for interpretations. Of course can be anything.


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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2011, 12:01:05 am »

Any pictures?
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