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Feminist News


February-25-97

Archeological Excavation Discovers Remnants of Female Warrior Class

American and Russian archeologists have found skeletons of women buried with swords and daggers in Pakrovka. According to historic accounts, Greek soldiers on a campaign in the Black Sea region found themselves in combat against female warriors. Archeologists excavating graves in the Eurasian steppes have now found conclusive evidence that female warriors indeed existed. Among the skeletons recently found, one bow-legged woman, who obviously rode horses, had an iron dagger at her right, a quiver holding more than 40 arrows tipped with bronze at her left, and wore a leather pouch containing a bronze arrowhead around her neck. Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball who led the excavations commented, "[the nomad women seemed] to have controlled much of the wealth, performed rituals for their families and clan, rode horseback and possibly hunted saiga, a steppe antelope, and other small game." She also wrote that in times of crisis, "the women took to their saddles, bows and arrows ready, to defend their animals, pastures and clan."

These women lived 1,000 miles east of where the Amazons supposedly encountered by the Greeks, and Dr. Davis-Kimball suggests the groups may have been counterparts. The new discoveries have led anthropologists to reconsider the status and role of women in the Eurasian nomad societies. Three categories of women seem to have existed: warrior women, priestesses, and women who primarily tended to their families. Dr. Nicola DiCosma a historian at Harvard University said that the findings show, "women in early nomadic societies could have had a higher profile in their cultures than women in sedentary societies at the same time."

Media Resources: The New York Times - February 25, 1997