Saturday, December 29, 2018

World of wonder: Aryan femmi-Nazis turned Grey Wolves in Mongolia

“Amazon Warrior Women” is an American adaptation of a 2004 German documentary. The US version was shown on PBS in 2016 as part of the series “Secrets of the Dead”. The documentary follows American archeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball and her German and Russian colleagues as they try to crack the riddle of the Amazons, fierce woman warriors mentioned in ancient Greek sources such as “The Illiad” and the writings of Herodotus. For centuries, modern scholars have regarded these tales as purely mythical, since everyone knows that of course all societies are patriarchal (blah blah). Unfortunately for most modern scholars, recent archeological excavations in Russia and elsewhere point to the Amazons being…well, real enough. Herodotus claimed that after their defeat at Troy, a ship carrying Amazons was stranded at the Black Sea coast. *This* story is legendary, but the claim that “Amazons” lived on the ancient Eurasian steppes have proved to be correct. The original Amazons were Scythians, more precisely female Scythian warriors and priestesses.

The documentary takes us to an archeological site in southern Russia, where a number of Sarmatian skeletons have been unearthed (the Sarmatians were a Scythian sub-group). Some of the remains are clearly female, one of them being buried in an unusual position associated with prominent male warriors. The grave also contains arrowheads and golden implements. Weirdly, the male skeletons lack weapons and one of them is buried with a small child! This looks uncomfortably close to the tall tales of Herodotus about voracious Amazon females enslaving foreign men…

But who exactly were the Scythians? Here, the picture is more murky. On YouTube, “Amazon Warrior Women” is uploaded by a channel that seems pro-Turkish (or pro-Turkic). The standard view is that the Scythians and the Sarmatians were tall White blonde types speaking an Iranian language. In other words, the Scythians were Indo-Europeans or “Aryans”. What level of irony is world history on? An Aryan matriarchy?! I guess you could say the Amazons were the original femmi-Nazis… The part of the documentary dealing with the ethno-racial issues strikes me as potentially very controversial, since it deals with genes, cranial measurements and a quest for a White child. I´m surprised the censors at PBS even let this through.

In her search for Amazon survivals, Davis-Kimball visits a remote part of western Mongolia inhabited by Kazakh nomads, most of whom are “Mongoloid” racially speaking. They speak a Turkic language. By all standards, they should be unrelated to the ancient Scythians. However, their culture turns out to be eerily similar to that of the Scythians and Sarmatians, including similar artwork and identical bows. Since Davis-Kimball believes the Scythians were Caucasian, she looks for a Caucasian-looking child to take DNA samples from. Eventually, she finds one: a 9-year old girl named Meiramgul, who is blonde and could pass for White, despite living in an isolated nomad settlement in Asia. 

There is indeed an almost perfect genetic match between Meiramgul and the ancient Sarmatian skeletons. But then comes the shocker: forensic reconstruction of the Sarmatian remains shows the Amazon women to have been dark-haired and non-Caucasian (albeit not Mongoloid)! This presumably explains why some believe that this particular culture was Turkic or proto-Turkic rather than Indo-European. How it squares with Meiramgul´s DNA is never really explained, except by stating that phenotypes change quickly (presumably faster than genotypes).

It seems one mystery have been solved, only to be replaced by another. Everything is well in the world…

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