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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/17/14

Inked Amazons: Passionate Warrior Women Who Loved Cannabis, Battle-axes, Booty & Bling

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But the tattoo saga does not end there. As Adrienne Mayor notes, modern research, using infrared rays on the mummified female bodies found in the icy graves of the vast Altai steppes (stretching from the Black Sea to Mongolia), has proven that Amazonian women of the 5th century B.C. wore skin art as elaborate as today's ink masterpieces. Moreover, the author takes pains to tell the stories of these thrilling discoveries in a vibrant, you-are-there style.


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Here is Mayor's excerpt about the 1993 find of an unlooted, luxurious tomb, frozen for 2500 years on the Ukok Plateau. "After two weeks of digging deep into the mound that snowy spring, they came upon a larchwood log coffin decorated with large leather cutouts of deer. Prying off the four copper nails securing the lid, they found a block of ice inside. The team carefully drizzled cups of hot water over the coffin. At last, a shoulder covered with marten (sable) fur emerged. [Archaeologist] Polosmak lifted the fur and saw 'a brilliant blue tattoo of a magnificent griffin-like creature' on the woman's skin. Polosmak identified the 'Ice Princess' as 'one of the Amazon women mummies' of the Pazyryk culture."

The princess was also laid to rest with a quantity of gold objects, including some beautifully worked bling. Speaking of gold, when we think of ancient artifacts and grave goods, valuables such as jewelry and coins naturally come to mind. But the nomadic cultures of these rugged lands treasured other pleasures, too, including one with a distinctly modern flavor.

Speaking of gold, when we think of ancient artifacts and grave goods, valuables such as jewelry and coins naturally come to mind. But the nomadic cultures of these rugged lands treasured other pleasures, including one with a distinctly modern flavor.


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Vicki Leon, author of over 35 nonfiction books on women's history, ancient history, and travel, along with pictorial books for younger readers on wildlife and earth's fragile habitats, lives on the California coast but often returns to her favorite (more...)
 
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