by Doc Quantum
The Amazons were an ancient society of horsewomen whose origins predated Greek civilization. It was said that the Founding Mothers of the Amazons were begat upon Otrera by Ares, the god of war himself. Many legends and tales of the Amazons sprang up in different parts of the Mediterranean and Black Sea area. It was said that the Amazons met with men from nearby societies, then, after choosing suitable mates from among those deemed to be good physical specimens, they would take them into the darkness of the forest and mate with them, leaving them afterward. This was done regularly in order to propagate the next generation of Amazon warriors and enlarge their numbers. Upon birth, all the male children were killed, blinded, or crippled, and, if kept alive and deemed suitable, were used as a supply of male seed. The female children were raised as full Amazons, replenishing their numbers as the older Amazons died. They also took men prisoner in battle, and after choosing the most handsome among them, they used them for their own pleasure and either killed them or used them as slaves once their usefulness had been expended.
Large herds of horses were kept by the Amazons, who were skilled riders. These horses were used in war parties as they raided other lands. The Amazons were also skilled with the bow, and it was said that the right breast of every young female was cut off so as to facilitate the drawing of the bow, making her a more highly skilled archer. The name Amazon itself is believed to descend from the Greek word amazoi, which means breast-less. They also used swords, double-sided axes, and carried distinctive, crescent-shaped shields, and fought while on horseback.
The Amazons were a mighty empire of warriors at one time, traveling great distances while conquering various enemies. Several Amazons under Queen Penthesilea went to Troy in aid of King Priam during the Trojan War, and while doing battle, Penthesilea was wounded in her right breast by the hero Achilles, who then fell in love with her great beauty.
It remains unknown where the Amazons originated from, although their cities ranged from Libya to the Black Sea at the height of their glory. They later migrated to an area on the coast of the Black Sea, where the great city of Themiskyra was founded upon the shores of the river Thermodon.
Another settlement was later founded upon the island of Aretias in the Black Sea, not far from Themiskyra. This island was written about by Apollonius Rhodius, the library of the Museum at Alexandria in Egypt, in the early second century B.C. in The Argonautica; this book was an account of the voyage of the Greek hero Jason and his comrades through the Black Sea along its south coast.
Aretias, the island of the Amazons, is now known as Giresun Adasi. Today, this island was believed to be deserted by the outside world, with little more than remains of buildings and a Byzantine monastery. However, this islet was still the venue for fertility rites. Every May, women from the mainland came to this island to perform ritual acts. Those facts certainly indicated a continued existence of cultic and religious tradition.
It is not known by the outside world what became of the Amazons, who seem to have disappeared roughly three thousand years ago. Some believe that they made their last stand at Themiskyra, their numbers depleted and no longer able to fight back against an enemy who wished them destroyed. Many, most likely, were simply absorbed into the various civilizations around them, some taken as spoils of war and forced to marry, but many others simply vanished without a trace.
It should be noted that there are theories that the Amazons thrive to the present day, having survived by adapting their already-formidable skills to the winds and waves of history. Some of these theories show the scant evidence of several female-dominated secret societies throughout the ages as their “proof” of the Amazons’ continued presence in history, but none of these sources have so far shown themselves to be credible. Again, it is shown that the mythology must be carved away from the history and left out merely as fodder for adventure fiction writers and Hollywood.
— From the Introduction to Amazonia: From Myth to History by Dr. Theodore Adams