The warlike race of the Amazons, from Strabo

(To Alessandro Rugolo)

Who were the Amazons, the legendary lineage of warrior women? We ask this to Strabo, the "Geographer". 

Strabo, born in Amasea in Ponto (the current Amasya, in Turkey), lived between the 64 BC and the 24 AD, geographer and historian, is known for his main work, the "Geography", in 17 books.
Book XI is about Asia and it is here that in the fifth chapter we find the object of our curiosity: the Amazons.

"On the mountains above Albania they say that the Amazons also live ..."

When Strabo speaks about Albania, he does not speak of the state we know. For Albania it intends in fact an ancient nation placed between the Armenia and the Caspian Sea.

The Amazons, a line of women only, were involved, says Strabo, of all the activities necessary for life, from agriculture to pastoralism (including mainly to the breeding of horses), from hunting to war.

"... the most vigorous would do great hunts and practice the warlike arts ..."This, at least, according to those oldest historians who knew them.

The Amazons, since they were small, cauterize the right breast to avoid having impediments in the use of weapons, especially in the launch of the javelin. But they also used the bow, the "sagaris" (double scythian ax) and the "pelta" (a light shield). They also used animal skins to produce what could be needed.
The survival of the species was guaranteed by its proximity to the men-only population called Gargareis, who lived nearby. 
In the spring months, the Amazons would leave their land to climb the mountains of Tuono, in the Caucasus, where, in the same period, the Gargareis went, according to an ancient custom: "... and together with women they make sacrifices and mate in order to proliferate. In secret, and in the dark, everyone takes what happens, and when they have put them pregnant, they send them away. If they give birth to a female, women keep it with them, while they bring the males to the men to breed them, and each one, ignoring how things went, adopts the single child, considering him as his son."

Strabo also tells us that the Amazons and the Gargareis came from Themiskyra.

A war broke out between Amazzoni and Gargareis. 
At the end of the war the two tribes agreed to live separately and established the aforesaid rules, limiting their relations to procreation.

Strabo recounts in his book what he read or heard about the Amazons, expressing his opinion on these ancient and fantastic stories: "... who would believe that an army, a city or a nation of women could survive without men?"