- Create your FREE Amazon Business account to save up to 10% with Business-only prices and free shipping.
Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World Paperback – February 9, 2016
Enhance your purchase
Frequently bought together
Special offers and product promotions
"2015 Silver Medal Winner in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, World History category"
"Selected for The New York Times Book Review’s “The Year in Reading” 2016"
"Shortlisted for the 2014 London Hellenic Prize"
"One of Foreign Affairs’ Best Military, Scientific, and Technological Books of 2015"
"Selected for American Scientist’s Science Book Gift Guide 2014"
"In her quest to separate reality from mythology, Mayor left few stones unturned, even examining the graves of women with war wounds and mummified tattoos. She skillfully presents her findings with wit and conviction in this superbly illustrated book"---Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affiars
"Fluidly written and exhaustively researched, this fascinating book lit up my mind and my sense of humanity, not just with women in it, but under it, above it, flinging out constellations and atoms; carving out grand canyons hand-in-hand with men and beasts and glaciers, too."---Neko Case, singer-songwriter, New York Times Book Review
"The Amazons is elegantly written, nicely illustrated and will no doubt excite a lot of attention."---Simon Goldhill, Times Literary Supplement
"Mayor specializes in connecting artifacts--paintings, sculptures, coins, bones, weapons, clothing, fossils--with the more diffuse evidence found in literature, lore and legend . . . in order to illuminate the lives of the ancient warrior women. . . . Impressive investigative work . . . fascinating."---James Romm, London Review of Books
"[A] fascinatingly detailed account."---Emily Wilson, Wall Street Journal
"Mayor (The Poison King) looks at ancient writings and archeological evidence to argue that yes, 'Amazons' were based on real nomadic women, though much different from the way ancient Greeks or contemporary audiences imagine them. . . . Mayor speculates on the origin of such misconceptions in ancient writings and art, smartly suggesting that, though Amazons are usually depicted heroically in Greek art and mythology, the male-centric Greeks perhaps struggled to understand a society based on equality between the sexes. . . . Her expertise shines throughout." ― Publishers Weekly
"An encyclopedic study of the barbarian warrior women of Western Asia, revealing how new archaeological discoveries uphold the long-held myths and legends. The famed female archers on horseback from the lands the ancient Greeks called Scythia appeared throughout Greek and Roman legend. Mayor tailors her scholarly work to lay readers, providing a fascinating exploration into the factual identity underpinning the fanciful legends surrounding these wondrous Amazons. . . . Mayor clears away much of the man-hating myths around these redoubtable warriors. Thanks to Mayor's scholarship, these fearsome fighters are attaining their historical respectability." ― Kirkus Reviews
"A must-read for anyone interested in either Amazonian myth or history."---Fred Poling, Library Journal
"No one before has ever marshalled the full sweep of evidence as Mayor does here. . . . The result is a book as erudite as it riveting, one that is surely destined to serve as the definitive work on the subject."---Tom Holland, Literary Review
"There are myriad myths surrounding the Amazons, but which are based on truth? . . . This is the question which Adrienne Mayor seeks to answer in her hugely informative and entertaining Encyclopaedia Amazonica."---Natalie Haynes, Independent
"[A] lively and engaging exploration . . . vivid, compelling and detailed . . . a rich compendium."---Lloyd Llewellyn Jones, Times Higher Education
"A beautiful book. . . . The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor is required reading."---Anna Meldolesi, Corriere della Sera
"Driven by a detective's curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic."---Peter Konieczny, History of the Ancient World
"Mayor writes elegant, jargon free, frequently witty prose."---Barry Baldwin, Fortean Times
"If Adrienne Mayor had merely applied her rigorous scholarship and poetic charm to documenting the shifting image of Amazons in classical, medieval and post-Renaissance European culture, she would have written an important contribution to ancient history. But she has achieved much more. By painstaking research . . . she has broken down the often impenetrable walls dividing western cultural history from its eastern equivalents. . . . Mayor opens up new horizons in world storytelling and feminist iconography. . . . There may not be Amazon dolls in today's toyshops, but a good substitute would be to read this wonderful book with your children and show them its pictures."---Edith Hall, New Statesman
"For anyone who thinks Amazons were as mythical as centaurs or sphinxes, this pleasurable book proves that misconception is wondrously wrong. . . . Mayor's beautifully illustrated book, truly encyclopedic on all things Amazonian, reclaims the historic image of these dauntless figures in the heroic frame they deserve."---Fran Willing, Bust.com
"Mayor's book is popular history at its best. Much of her archaeological evidence is new -- such as her descriptions of 'Scythian' female graves with horses and weapons. She chooses wonderful illustrations which makes the book enjoyable and easy to read."---Zenobia blog,
"Clearly, with this clever, systematic and engaging work by Mayor, Amazons got their classic book. And it is a riveting read, too."---Ephraim Nissan, Fabula,
"Mayor's fascinatingly readable book convincingly argues that many of their characteristics may have derived from real nomadic womenwarriors of antiquity. . . . It represents a remarkable scholarly breakthrough: no one will ever be able to discuss the Amazon myths again without taking into account the historical evidence she provides."---Tassos A. Kaplanis, Journal of Historical Geography
"Adrienne Mayor has written an ambitious 'Encyclopedia Amazonica' as she calls her book, a kind of compendium of information about the Amazons. . . . Her charming and seamless style can certainly provoke a reader's interest in the still distant and unknown terra incognita of the Black Sea and Caucasus regions and their nomadic life."---Eleni Boliaki, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"I can't . . . begin to say how great it is to have a book like this, because it's exactly the kind of book I like. Not one that just dismisses old stories as being too tall or made up, but really gives them the benefit of the doubt and tries to correlate and reconcile them with hard evidence. This is brilliantly achieved in Amazons. . . . This in many ways is an exhaustive study, every facet that could be thought of has been included, and very little left out." ― Adventures in Historyland
"Mayor writes well, and not without dry humour, and although hardly given to the sensational, the sheer depth and breadth of her research and discoveries carry you along. You won't devour this in a sitting, just as you wouldn't eat a whole gooey gateau at once, but each slice of book is appetising enough to keep you coming back for more."---Lynn Picknett, Magonia Review of Books
"Adrienne Mayor's Amazons . . . remains much the best guide to the Amazonian blend of fact and fable."---David Butterfield, Spectator
"[The Amazons] contains 400+ pages of fascinating evidence pertaining to the Scythian and Thracian women of ancient times, not to mention 100+ pages of source material at the end. There is no shortage of historical imagery depicting Amazons through different artistic medians from paintings to carvings."---GeedMom,
"[Mayor's] skill as a narrator has produced an excellent addition to popular ancient history that ranks highly for its commitment to educating general readers and its interdisciplinary approach."---Ian McElroy and Thomas Figueira, The Historian
"The Amazons is a stupendous achievement―a long-anticipated centerpiece in the great puzzle of humankind. The story of these forbidden women, silenced for so long by the rigidity of traditional scholarship, is as exciting and surprising as a bestselling murder mystery; I simply couldn't put it down. Through scholarly brilliance and passion, Adrienne Mayor has opened the door to a forgotten world of gender equality, and her book ought to be required reading in every college history course."―Anne Fortier, author of The Lost Sisterhood: A Novel
"Nobody brings ancient history and archaeology to life like Adrienne Mayor. From the Russian steppes to China, and from Roman Egypt and Arabia to the Etruscans, she leads the reader on a breathtaking quest for the real ancient warrior women reflected in myths―their daring, archery, tattoos, fine horses, and independence from male control. The book's rich erudition, communicated in sparkling prose and beautiful illustrations, makes it a riveting read."―Edith Hall, author of Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind
"Adrienne Mayor's inquiry into the myth―and surprising reality―of Amazon women begins with the fierce Greek huntress Atalanta, but takes us deep into the past and as far afield as the Great Wall of China. With the restless curiosity and meticulous scholarship that have become her hallmark, the author once again has found a gap in my bookshelf and filled it, admirably."―Steven Saylor, author of Raiders of the Nile: A Novel of the Ancient World
"Adrienne Mayor excels at demonstrating the truth that lies behind what seems simply storytelling, and there is no more exciting confrontation of myth and history than in the story of the Amazons. This is a great book―at once exhaustive, scholarly, thrilling, and imaginative, spanning the history, art, and imagination of ancient peoples from Italy to China."―John Boardman, University of Oxford
"One can only wonder at the courage and conviction of the ancient warrior women who dared to defy their peers, and who became such powerful inspirations that their memory lives on for millennia. We owe it to them to remember their stories. Adrienne Mayor's fabulous book illuminates a complex picture of ancient lives. It gives us the chance to understand these amazing female fighters, and to recognize their daughters in our midst, those who fight with courage and conviction for what they know is a better world."―Samantha "Swords" Catto-Mott, medieval long-sword champion and creator of special effects in film
"In this fascinating book, which combines flowing prose, a lively and engaging presentation, and wonderful illustrations, Adrienne Mayor brings the reader into the excitement of discovering the truth about the Amazons. She demonstrates quite convincingly that the Amazon traditions largely derive from the undeniable historical fact that nomadic, armed horsewomen existed on the fringes of the ancient Greek world. Mayor is the first to examine the evidence systematically and in detail and she makes a concrete and persuasive case."―William Hansen, author of Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans
"In this comprehensive account of the Amazons, Adrienne Mayor examines the subject in a way that no one else has done and presents overwhelming evidence that they were not entirely fictitious. Only Mayor has looked at the evidence from all the relevant fields to show how, together, they can solve what to each of them separately are complete mysteries. This will be the classic book on the subject for a very long time."―Elizabeth Wayland Barber, author of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance
- ASIN : 0691170274
- Publisher : Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (February 9, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780691170275
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691170275
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1.5 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #127,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I have the electronic version of it, but this is one that I wished I had bought as a hard copy so that the pictures would be in the right spots and because I would love to mark it up by hand and put notes in the margins (not quite the same on a Kindle).
I didn't realize how much I never knew about these women until I got this book. If you love history or are interested in Amazons - definitely check this one out.
Top reviews from other countries
Incredibly detailed and researched, this is not an easy read as it contains loads of cross references (so is a little more like a scholarly work - which may be the intention).
It is nevertheless an extraordinary book and, although I was expecting it to be more on the legends and stories themselves (of which there are many), there is a lot of archaeological fact finding and reportage included - as can be witnessed by the length of the appendices (which meant for me reading as an eBook, it seemed to end rather suddenly).
Overall, a good and interesting read, which dispelled, for me, the myth for me that the Amazons were one race of people.
Dr Mayor tackles many of the human interest questions that ordinary readers might ask themselves, including romance. There is an engrossing chapter on love and sexuality among the female warriors; elsewhere there are plenty of illustrations showing that they appreciated body art in the form of tattoos (just like the men of the period). Incidentally, the book contains a generous number of illustrations, many taken from Greek vases and sculptures.
The quality of writing is good. Mayor writes in a scholarly way with plenty of references but she is also highly readable and appears anxious to make her work accessible to non-academics. She carefully balances history against myth to give her readers a state of the art account of the genuine female horse archers and the way that ancient writers such as Herodotus and Hippocrates (who called them Sarmatians) perceived them and integrated them into Greek literature. The ancient Greeks liked their women to be submissive and domesticated, so they must have been both fascinated and scandalised by the independent minded and sexually liberated women who formed the basis of their myths and legends. As far as we know, these women demanded and received total equality with men. They were the first feminists, nearly 3500 years before bra-burning became a topic of conversation.
Mayor tells us all sorts of fascinating things about the Sarmatian / Scythian women: they lassoed their enemies with lariats; they were hygienic and had elaborate saunas in felt teepees and perfumed their bodies with expensive fragrances; they tattooed not only themselves but their children; they punctured themselves right down to muscle whilst having tattoos done; they wore tight leather structures rather like bras to stop their breasts bouncing when they were out riding; they hung a quiver outside their wagons to let people know if they were having sex; they were tall, robust women with an average height of around 5 foot six inches; they made their koumiss stronger by freezing out some of the water; they practised an open form of marriage; they enjoyed cannabis heated over hot stones in braziers; they slept in cosy fur beds; they suffered from early onset osteoarthritis; they gave their horses pet names; they sacrificed horses before battle; they invented trousers (possibly) and if not, they definitely wore them; the list goes on.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book, I thought, was Mayor’s description of the love affairs between Alexander the Great and Queen Thalestris (probably true) and the affair / marriage between Mithradates and Hypsicratea (definitely true). Both women were proven warriors and would certainly qualify as “Amazons”.
The final section of the book deals with female warriors who had some of the characteristics of Amazons but were not necessarily of Scythian extraction; for example those who came from China and the Far East. These warriors provide interesting comparisons with the original Amazons.
What about criticisms? There really isn’t much wrong with this book. Perhaps Mayor dwells too long on the mythical Amazons and spends too much time describing and discussing the images on old Greek vases, but that’s just a personal view. For other readers that might be fine; and after all, this book is both about the mythical Amazons and the real ones. Some might argue that a full understanding of the mythical Amazons leads to a better understanding of the Sarmatian and Scythian female warriors. All the same, I felt some of the lengthier discourses might have been put in an appendix at the end rather than slowing down the book’s momentum. Another minor criticism is that the maps might have been a little larger and clearer.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book highly enough with its massive amount of research, free-flowing text and the generous quantity of illustrations. My only regret is that it wasn’t available two years ago.
Buy. The. Book.
Also, this book made me take up archery. I haven't taken up horseriding yet, but I may try for a Parthian shot from my bicycle.