Recently G.G. Maykov proposed that in the classical antiquity the queendom of Amazons was located on the modern Taman' peninsula (Pavlovskaya 2003). As the burials of ancient female warriors were found in this area, they served as a proof for this hypothesis. Here E.A. Savostina found a bas-relief, on which a plot of a battle of ancient Greeks and Amazons was carved, and G.G. Maykov connected this motif with Amazons of the Taman' land.
Are there facts sufficient for such categorical statement? In compliance with my theory, Amazons (Scythian and Sarmatian female warriors) settled in the area limited by the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, foothills of the Caucasian mountains and the Caucasian mountains themselves (Rjabchikov 2001a). Undoubtedly, definite "centres" of settlements of Amazons existed within this area, and the religious beliefs of these groups were quite the same (Rjabchikov 2002a: 13, 23, 87-8, 101-2, 125, 146, 149, 161-7, 203-4, 221-2, 232, 236-7, 242, 252). There were such "centres" in many places indeed. Certainly, the Taman' land is situated within the limits clear cut by me. It should be borne in mind that Amazons who were wounded or ill with epilepsy became most ancient mermaids in the Slavonic mythology (Rjabchikov 2001a; 2001b; 2002b).
According to the Slavonic beliefs, Baba-Yaga lives near a sea. Amazons who lived near the lake of the Maeotis (the Sea of Azov) had such feature; Russian fairy tales have such heroines as Tsar'-Devitsa (the King-Girl) and Belaya Lebed' (the White Swan) from the "Queendom of Maidens" (Rybakov 1994: 587-8). On the other hand, the "three-ninth" queendom of Yaga can be referred to the Tmutarakan' Principality which included vast lands (Rjabchikov 1998: 10-6, 28; 2002a: 13). The majority of the lands where Amazons lived (in my opinion) were the future lands of this principality.
Now we are carried away to times of the classical antiquity. Ancient Greeks who lived in the towns on the shores of the Black Sea and had relations with the local population there mostly could consider the Taman' land as an embodiment of the whole barbarian world. According to ancient Greeks, Amazons who lived both nearby and in remote places were situated in this land.
I shall try to find any information concerning the queendom of Amazons in the ancient Greek mythology. The ninth feat of Heracles was as follows (Kun 2000: 178-80). In order to get a belt of the Amazon queen Hippolyta, the hero went to the most remote shores of the Black Sea. A land of Amazons with the capital Themiskyra was situated there. Heracles won a victory over several Amazons. He captured an Amazon, and then Hippolyta exchanged her by the belt. A.A. Takho-Godi (1989: 240-1; 2002: 199) believes that the ninth feat of Heracles took place in far south-east, "in the remote steppes of Themiskyra, near the lake of the Maeotis", "near the remote Themiskyra or near the lake of the Maeotis". Proximity of this town to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov specifies a definite place on the modern Taman' peninsula. I read the name of this town as Scythian/Sarmatian *Tem- s- kir- 'The darkness - the sun-ray is shining' (1). Scythian/Sarmatian tama, *tem- mean 'darkness', so means 'to shine; the sun; look', *kir- means 'ray; sun-ray' (Rjabchikov 2001b; 2002a: 5; 2002c: 133; 2002a: 156). I think that this name was preserved in the names of the town Tamatarha and Tmutarakan' (the ancient town Hermonassa; the village Taman'), although it may be a Scythian/Sarmatian name of the Sea of Azov (*Tema runda m- matrem maris). The following detail of this myth is of great importance as it gives the opportunity to prove my interpretation. The seaside town Themiskyra was situated near the Thermodon river; the Amazons lived around this river at the Black Sea (Schwab 1956: 142). I recognise Greek qermw 'to heat, to warm' and Scythian/Sarmatian *don- 'water; river' in the name of the river. I reason that Thermodon was one of the branches of the Kuban river. The Fiery river in the Scythian/Sarmatian beliefs is the Kuban river (Rjabchikov 1998-2003; 1999; 2002a: 13, 238-9; 2002d).
1. Cf. also (Rjabchikov 2002a: 32).
Kun, N.A., 2000. Chto rasskazyvali greki i rimlyane o svoikh bogakh i geroyakh. Moscow.
Pavlovskaya, T., 2003. Kubanskie amazonki // Rossiyskaya gazeta, Nr 10(13), 19 March 2003.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998. Tainstvennaya Tmutarakan'. Krasnodar.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998-2003. "Tmutarakan', an Outlying Land" Home Page: http://slavonicweb.chat.ru/tmtrkn.htm.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1999. The Scythians, Sarmatians, Meotians, Russians and Circassians: Interpretation of the Ancient Cultures. "THE SLAVONIC ANTIQUITY" Home Page: http://slavonicweb.chat.ru/sl2.htm.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001a. Mermaids from Scythia. "THE SLAVONIC ANTIQUITY" Home Page: http://slavonicweb.chat.ru/sl42.htm.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001b. The Scythian/Sarmatian Influence on the Slavonic Mythology and Decorative Art. "THE SLAVONIC ANTIQUITY" Home Page: http://slavonicweb.chat.ru/sl37.htm.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002a. Skifo-sarmatskie istoki slavyanskoy kul'tury: Materialy Yuzhnorossiyskoy fol'klorno-etnograficheskoy expeditsii. Krasnodar.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002b. The Semantics of Bracelets Decorated with Heads of Serpents from Chersonesus. The web site Archaeology.RU - Scythica-Celticum.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002c. K voprosu ob interpretatsii skifskikh i sarmatskikh arkheologicheskikh pamyatnikov. In: Tataurov, S.F., L.V. Tataurova and N.A. Tomilov (eds.) Integratsiya arkheologicheskikh i etnograficheskikh issledovaniy. Omsk -- Khanty-Mansiysk.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002d. Did Odin Exist? "THE SLAVONIC ANTIQUITY" Home Page: http://slavonicweb.chat.ru/sl46.htm.
Rybakov, B.A., 1994. Yazychestvo drevnikh slavyan. Moscow.
Schwab, G., 1956. Die Schönsten Sagen des Klassischen Altertums. Berlin.
Takho-Godi, A.A., 1989. Grecheskaya mifologiya. Moscow.
Takho-Godi, A.A., 2002. Grecheskaya mifologiya. Moscow -- Kharkov.
Copyright © 2003 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.
Published 19 April 2003.
Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.
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