Archaeology Unveils the Amazons Who Fought for Rome in Britain; REMAINS SUGGEST LEGENDARY WOMEN WARRIORS FROM THIRD CENTURY WERE IN ARMY

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Archaeology Unveils the Amazons Who Fought for Rome in Britain; REMAINS SUGGEST LEGENDARY WOMEN WARRIORS FROM THIRD CENTURY WERE IN ARMY


Byline: RICHARD EDWARDS

AMAZON warriors fought with the Roman army in Britain, it was revealed today.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two women soldiers buried with their swords in a Roman cemetery in Cumbria.

They are believed to have been part of a specialist unit descended from the Amazons which joined a legion in Britain in about 200AD.

Historians have hailed it an astonishing find and said the idea of women warriors in England 1,700 years ago will force a rethink about women's role in Roman society.

According to legend, Amazons terrorised ancient Greece and were famed for their beauty and horsemanship. Their name is believed to derive from the Greek word Amazoi, which means breastless. Legend has it that they removed their right breast to improve their agility as archers.

They were said to have mated with men from other tribes, keeping the daughters and killing the male infants.

In Roman times, women gladiators dressed in the style of Amazons. But the new findings suggest that descendants of the Amazons also fought as part of the army.

Archaeologists said the two woman soldiers were probably part of a numerii - a Roman irregular unit - which was raised in the Danube region of Eastern Europe, where the ancient Greeks said the fearsome Amazon warriors originated, and transferred to Britain.

The women, believed to have died sometime between 220AD and 300AD, were cremated on pyres upon which were placed their horses and military equipment.

One of the women warrior's remains was found with a sword scabbard, red pottery and the burnt remnants of animals. …

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