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The Amazons

Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor
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Amazons—fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world—were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.

But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging, and lavishly illustrated book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.

Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons—Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.

Driven by a detective's curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic.

Princeton University Press; September 2014
536 pages; ISBN 9781400865130
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Title: The Amazons
Author: Adrienne Mayor
  • News
Amazons Could Have Existed in Ancient Greece - Greek Reporter
Mon, 18 Jan 2016 08:48:04 -0800
Greek ReporterAmazons Could Have Existed in Ancient GreeceGreek ReporterThe fierce, fearsome, war-loving female warriors known ...
Adrienne Mayor - London Review of Books (subscription)
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 04:31:00 -0700
London Review of Books (subscription)Adrienne MayorLondon Review of Books (subscription)But in fact the 'scientific ...
The Amazing Scientific Achievements of the Woman Who Kickstarted Paleontology - The Mary Sue
Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:22:32 -0700
The Mary SueThe Amazing Scientific Achievements of the Woman Who Kickstarted PaleontologyThe Mary SueBefore Mary Anning and her ...