From the 9th to the 6th centuries B.C., the Kingdom of Urartu flourished in Armenia. Well-connected with the major empires from the Mediterranean to India, Urartu had a distinct cultural environment focused on hunting, the military, and a trade economy.
Intruders such as the Scythians, however, who sought to conquer the highlands, were often rebuffed by trained Urartian archers. New analysis of a skeleton from this region shows that these Urartian warriors were both men and women.
Exploration of the weapon‐related traumas on human remains allows us to reconstruct the episodes of violence. This paper is an attempt of reconstructing the life and death of a female buried in the Early Armenian necropolis of Bover I (Shnogh, Lori Province) based on a multidisciplinary approach integrating archaeological, written, and palaeopathological data derived from the skeletal analysis. The remains unearthed in Tomb N 17 belonged to a woman who seemed to live as a professional warrior and was buried as an individual of rank.
During our work, we identified a rich array of traumatic lesions, which shed light on her daily activities, occupation, and warfare practice. We also analysed a trapped metal arrowhead in her femur. For this region, projectile injury to bone, induced by an arrow wound, strongly suggests interpersonal aggression. The same individual also suffered blows to the pelvic bone, femur, and tibia. This tomb is the second burial discovered in Armenia that provides evidence on female warriors.
“The Amazons [were a] common Scythian phenomenon [but] only…during the last decade [has] our expedition…discovered approximately 11 burials of young armed women,” Gulyaev says in the release. “Separate barrows were filled for them and all burial rites which were usually [observed] for men were done for them.”