Origins and Geography of the Amazon Nation
by Carla Osborne

The origins of the Amazons, if deduced only from Greek records, are obscure and purely mythological.
However, as in the case of the Greeks themselves, the records of other peoples and clues in their own culture
give more detail. Record of the Amazons lie also with the Ukrainians, the Chinese, the Scythians, Hittites, and
Indians, to name a few. The Amazon Nation consisted of a federation of numerous all women tribes from two
groups5 : women who left their villages temporarily for service to their Goddess, and women who preferred an all
female society. This was not considered harmful or unusual. Amazons and priestesses often formed the
backbone of medical and teaching personnel in communities. A wide variety of scientific knowledge was
preserved in the context of ritual and systems of divination. Bearing children was the task of a warrior, given
how physically dangerous it was to mother and child. Symbolically, the mother acts as a human gateway
between the worlds when giving birth, an extremely dangerous occupation demanding careful precautions.
At the time that Amazon tribes began to form, the primary deity was a Goddess, usually identified as the Lady
of Beasts, the Bird Goddess, or the Snake Goddess, categories developed by Dr. Marija Gimbutas. This was
particularly true of the Amazons, and is reflected in all mythology concerning them. Perhaps then, the easiest
way to trace the Amazons is to begin with their Goddesses, given the origin of their tribes in dedicated religious
colleges in North Africa and Anatolia approximately 10 000 years ago.
In the Myrine entry of Chapter One, two Goddesses of the Libyan Amazons were described: Sipylene of the
Moon and Sea, and Athena of the Sun. In fact, there was a third Goddess worshipped in the area, by a tribe of
Amazons later known as the Pallantids. This was Pallas Promachos (Pallas of the
Vanguard), whose mere shadow appeared in Athens later. The Pallantids eventually became hereditary enemies
of Athens, after the raids which broke the treaties signed after the Attic War.
The first recorded encounters between Greek and Amazon tribes occur in North Africa. Few authors make clear
that the Libyan Amazons were black, and that so too must be Athena, Pallas, and Sipylene. They may have
helped inspire divine female figures who have black skin in European folklore, apart from chthonic Goddesses
who are black due to their connection with the soil. The other source is ancient India, homeland of the
Goddesses Sera 'army' and Uma 'light' or 'Moon.' Sera seems to have been predominantly a war Goddess, but
Uma became Goddess of the Moon, war, and wisdom. Uma's name may be the root of the term 'Amazon' from
Uma-zoon, often translated 'Moon Warriors.' Amastis on the Black Sea may also be named for her, suggesting
that Amazons there were her worshippers. Sera's followers were settled on the Gulf of Amnissus.
The migration of Indian Amazons occurred early, probably corresponding to the invasions that destroyed the
Harrapan civilization (approximately 2000 BCE). They established early Northern Amazon settlements, and seem
to have made contact with the Libyan Amazons, whose Gorgon Goddess bears points of resemblance to Kali.
At last to the Greeks, who believed that all Amazons were descendants of Ares through Harmonia. Harmonia is
a title of Aphrodite, whose warlike aspect was more commonly known as Galatea. She comes from the Middle
East originally, and may be related to Astarte. Paphos was originally an Amazon colony, which suggests that
Aphrodite's warrior women brought her there. Still other Amazons were from Anatolia and Crete, as evidenced
by their worship of Artemis, Cybele, Rhea, and Gaea. All of these and Aphrodite were worshipped as Lady of
the Beasts and warrior Goddess. Athena was different.

A descendant of the Bird Goddess of Neolithic times, that was also her aspect among the Gorgons. The golden
Sun eagle was originally one of her forms. Marija Gimbutas demonstrated that the Bird and Snake Goddesses
were always together in Neolithic Old Europe6 . Eventually this was expressed as the combination of Athena
and Hera, whose temples were always placed near each other. In Libyan Amazonia, the Snake Goddess was
another aspect of Athena herself rather than a separate Goddess, although Greek writers later interpreted this
aspect as the Goddess they called Hera.
The Amazons of Old Europe saw their Bird Goddess replaced wholesale by a version of Athena as foreign to
their Libyan counterparts as she was to them, and their own Snake Goddess rewritten into an enemy. Daughter
of Rhea, who wielded the silver Moon sickle of Time, Hera wielded the labrys in defense of her Amazons, the
blows manifesting on earth as bolts of lightning. Eventually, she sent her daughter Heraklaea to defend her
people, an idea that impressed the Dorian Greeks so much they masculinized her and substantially rewrote her
labours.
It was this diverse group of people that created a confederation that influenced a huge territory that at its
largest extended from North Africa to the Danube. The Greek tribes that eventually encountered them had
already institutionalized the fear of women, firm in the belief that men were defenseless in the face of a women's
revolt. Their first engagements with the Amazons did nothing to disabuse them of the notion. Between the
devastatingly effective Amazon cavalry to their skilled use of warcries that froze or panicked the Greeks so
completely that the men thought themselves bewitched, they served as proof of the point. This and the refusal
by Amazons to submit to male authority led to an obsessive determination to destroy them.
Efforts at destruction proved to be in vain. When the Amazons were finally pushed out of their homelands, they
fled back to the Nation's roots in Tunis and Morocco, and then moved West and North through southern
Spain. The Valkyries were a Northern European Amazon tribe. As late as the 18th
century, Medieval histories recorded that Amazons ruled Ulm until the time of Alexander in a reign spanning
thousands of years. Later historians believed that Amazon customs only persisted until the 18th century, an
interesting congruence. That this is blatantly untrue can be seen at the all women festivals still held annually on
Giresun Adesi, formerly called Aretias on the Black Sea, the tradition of women only gatherings under the
auspices of 'tea' or 'crafts,' or the banding together of women for common cause. Present day movements such
as lesbian separatism and women only religious space are further reclamations of those customs.

GEOGRAPHY

The earliest Amazon Nation clearly located by the Greeks was centred on Lake Tritonis, in the lands of the
Libyan Amazons. It had been extended East toward Egypt after the geologic disaster that forced a migration
from the original island of Tritonia. Further expansion led to the occupation of the land around the future city of
Cyrene and into what is now the Libyan Stone Desert. Existing in a combination of pasture, desert, mountains,
and sea coast, the Libyan Amazons became wide ranging sailors and traders, known for their art, textiles, and
orchards. At the height of its influence, the Southern Amazon Nation spread North to Anatolia and the Black
Sea area. Probably the first tribe of Maeotides, Amazons of the Lake Maeotis-Tanais River area established their
settlement in this period, and other Amazons founded the Moon-Priestesshood of Troy, its royal line.
The leading tribes of the Nation and the nature of the Nation itself altered as the Libyans suffered increasingly
violent raids by Greek tribes, as much due to the trade competition they represented as their different cultural
values. It was under these circumstances that Lysippe, a queen of the Maeotide colony began working to
improve the organization, connections, and defense of the Northern Amazons.
An unspecified disaster, or perhaps the need to take up a better area militarily and agriculturally, caused
Lysippe to move her people to the Thermodontine plain. The river flows from the former Amazon Mountains
and empties into the Black Sea, watering a great plain roamed by wild horses. The capital proved so
unapproachable that the Chinese, Cherkesians, and Indians all described it as such.
The new centre of the Amazon Nation soon included a ring of fortresses on the Thermodon plain, and roads cut
straight and level through solid rock. Extant throughout most of the Bronze Age, it consisted of the Taurian
Mountains, Russian Steppes, Northern Anatolia, Thrake, and Southern Scythia
up to the Southern and Western banks of the Danube. They named the rivers ending at the Black Sea for their
Great Goddess, Artemis-Diana-Danuna. Taurus, Lemnos, Lesbos, Paphos, Smyrna, Ephesus, Kymes,
Samothrake, and Kappadocia were all Amazon colonies, part of the Nation from the time of the
third famous Myrine of the Libyan dynasty.
On the Thermodon Plain, there were three Amazon queens, of whom Lysippe was the leader. Each founded a
city, later known as Themiskyra, Lykastia, and Chadesia. Lysippe's tribe was best known for its cavalry, the first
in that part of the continent, the Chadesians for their skill with javelin and spear. They garnered many names
from their varied neighbours, from Emetchi 'those who count from the mother' among the Cherkesians, Oiorpata
'mankillers' to the Scythians, Anthropophagi 'man eaters' to Northern Greeks and Thrakians, and perhaps
Aemetzai among the Kalmucks.
 

5. The religious origins of Amazon tribes presented here were described by Budapest, 4 p. 54. The role of
religion in the creation of the Amazon Nation were also alluded to by Salmonson, p. 12.

6. Approximately Southern Europe, the Aegean Islands, and present day Turkey.
 

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