Adrienne Mayor’s book about Amazon warrior women is a real treat. My play Shield Maiden asks me to continually work to find the warrior spirit in myself. I was thrilled to find a book steeped in proof of the existence of women warriors in history. It is quite dismaying that the notion of a woman warrior is still so heavily disputed.
Mayor uses historical Greek artifacts to build the case that women warriors were more than cartoon fictionalized characters. These women were real people, living and fighting, loving, bearing children.
This past week, Mayor was interviewed by NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about a recent archaeological find of women warriors buried in Russia. Here is a link to the transcript. The gravesite includes the bodies of four women. Their ages range from 13 to 50.
“Many people had thought, in the past, that perhaps women of childbearing age or mothers or older women would not be participating in warfare. But this shows that women of childbearing age and even up into their 50s were participating in battle when necessary.”
Shield Maiden is based on the Birka warrior confirmed by DNA testing carried out in 2017 to be a woman. However, this discovery led to quite a loud uproar to the notion of women warriors. The idea of Amazons was met with equally rabid protest. Amazons were relegated to the land of myth and cartoons. Mayor rigourously cites ancient proof that these women in fact existed.
Therefore, this recent Russian burial site which “shows that women of all ages were active warriors and participated in battle alongside the men and were buried with the same honors as the men.” is a goldmine of proof and vindication to Mayor’s research.
All of this recent proof about ancient/ amazon women warriors makes my one woman show so much more exciting to me. My character is no longer just one woman from history but an army of women who were warriors rolled into one body.