Category Archives: Ephesus

Amazons, the legendary founders of Ephesus

amazons-ephesus

Amazons were the female warriors that lived in Anatolia (Anatolia is the name of the region of today’s Asian part of Turkey) around 2nd millennium BC. They are believed to be the daughters of god Ares (the god of war) and Harmonia. They disappear from the historical records from Anatolia after the 7th century BC.

Amazons first appear in around the foothills of Caucasus Mountains and then move to the Black Sea coast to Themiscyra which is accepted by historians as the lands of Amazons. Themiscyra of the ancient times is referring to today’s Terme River in the black sea region of Turkey between Sinop and Ordu cities.

There are different opinions about the origin of the name ‘Amazon’. According to the most popular theory, the word ‘Mazon’ means breast and a-mazons were the females without a breast. They were cutting one of their breasts to use their weapons more efficiently. According to another point of view, the prefix ‘a’ is used to strengthen the word mazon – breast to emphasize the female warriors fighting like a man. When we look at the sculptures of Amazons from different times and geographies, the Amazon ladies are depicted with two breasts generally which supports the second theory.

Amazons were living apart from men, and using men only to proliferate by sleeping with a man they liked once a year. If they had a son, they would leave him to the father, and they only accepted females to their society.

The Amazons are seen on history stage in several different myths and stories. Hercules, the son of Zeus, was born from an affair of Zeus with a human being named Alcmene. Hera, the official wife of Zeus tried to take revenge from Hercules all the time and gave Hercules 12 tasks to complete, wishing Hercules would be dead by the end. One of the missions was to get back the golden belt from the Amazon queen Hippolyte. Hercules and Theseus went to the land of Amazons and they were welcomed very friendly. Hercules took the golden belt from the queen as a gift. But this time Hera was frustrated, she changed herself into an Amazon and caused a massive disorder which ended by the killing of queen Hippolyte by Heracles. Theseus kidnapped the Antiope, the sister of the queen, to Athens and with the leadership of Orithtya, Amazons attacked Athens to get back Antiope which takes place as a historical fact in the writings of Socrates. Following this story, according to a powerful theory, on their way to Athens or back, Amazons established Ephesus as well as many other cities around the same location.

Amazons are taking place at the famous Troy war around 1200 BC. They are believed to help Hector against Achilles. Queen Penthesilea was shot to death from her breast just after she injured Achilles. On her last moments, Achilles took of her helmet and saw the beauty of Penthesilea and fell in love with this woman that he just killed.

In all around the world, at the famous museums, one can see the sculptures of these female warriors of Anatolia made by several artists at different times. One of the beautiful reliefs of Amazons that were carved on the Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus Ancient City is now displayed at the local museum of Ephesus in Selcuk, Turkey.

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http://www.ephesus.us