Ancient DNA has revealed the Scythian warrior bodies from a site in Western Russia are actually female [ScienceAlert].
Although these girls are Iron Age Scythians, this is a good ice breaker to discuss a paper by Jan Turek regarding gender identities in the Beaker and Corded Ware Cultures where we are able to observe a number of individuals who are treated in unexpected ways in death.
|hors d'oeuvres are served!|
In "Copper Age Transformations in Gender Identities", Jan Turek looks at some of the assumptions we have been making about the Bell Beaker and Corded Ware Culture based on gender distinctions in funerary arrangements. We can assume they had an almost idealized notion of gender and gender roles, but aside from that, what do we really know?
As modern people we project quite a bit on the archaeological past to fill in the gaps of what we are able to observe. Of course the problem is that those gaps are actually pretty huge, and the past is very distant. So I'd like to give Turek's thoughts attention in more than one post. But here, let's look at Amazons.
|One of the Western Russia Amazon Scythians with headress|
Turek cautions that we have to be careful in interpreting (for today's topic) graves of women with objects of power, prestige and warfare. He uses the example of women pharaohs of Egypt wielding the objects of male pharaonic power, being depicted or buried as shepherd kings. Understanding why Hatshepsut has a false beard takes a few minutes to explain in context.
Below we see Kurdish female fighters, which is an even more stark image coming from the part of the world where they are fighting. What exactly does it mean though? What is the message? We have to be careful in projecting what we want it mean or don't want it to mean. There is a context for this in Kurdish Culture and Kurdish political aims.
But as with quite a number of Scythian women, it isn't all show. Many of them die fighting, often fairly horrible deaths at the hands of savages, and many have the notches on the buttstock to show for their time in the field.
|Kurdish women fighters|
I'll update this post later with a former paper showing that Beaker women may have ridden horses and shot the bow quite frequently.
And below, a reconstruction of one of several Beaker Amazon graves. Then the question, is she displaying icons of power, as a queen of Egypt, or, are these sentimental objects of male relations. Or again, was she a fighter?