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Themiscyra: The Ancient Real-Life Version Of The Amazons' Mythical Home

Ancient History | April 28, 2020

One of the more fascinating stories from ancient mythology is that of the Amazon women. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a fierce race of warrior women. If you're a fan of Wonder Woman, this name is probably familiar to you. From their name, it may be natural to assume that the tribe hailed from South America, but the entire western hemisphere was actually unknown to ancient Greece. The mythical home of the Amazons was much closer, in a region of modern-day Ukraine, the capital city of which was called Themiscyra. Let's take a closer look at the actual place that was once the mythical home of a tribe of warrior women. 

The Amazon lived without men. (pinterest.com)

Who Were The Amazons?

The Amazons were the Greek version of girl power. The tribe, which appeared in a variety of Greek myths, consisted exclusively of women who killed or enslaved any man who ventured too close to their home. Once a year, the Amazons enjoyed a conjugal visit with a nearby tribe called the Gargareans, and nine months later, the women welcomed a batch of newborns. The female babies were kept and raised to be warriors while the males were either returned to their fathers or abandoned to die in the woods. Harsh, ladies.

Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, as depicted in "Wonder Woman", (looper.com)

Penthesilea And Hippolyta

Two of the best-known Amazons were Penthesiliea and Hippolyta. Penthesilea participated in the Trojan War before she was killed in battle by the hero Achilles, while her sister, Hippolyta, owned the mythical magic girdle. The fourth task of the Labors of Heracles was to recover this girdle from the Amazons and return it to Ares, the god of war. To do so, Heracles had to travel to the home of the Amazons, Themiscyra.

Themiscyra was described as a utopia. (imgur.com)

Where Was Themiscyra?

According to legend, Themiscyra was located on the southern coast of the Black Sea in the northeastern section of Anatolia, at the mouth of the Thermodon River. This area, which was once under Greek control, is now part of the Ukraine. Themiscyra is mentioned in numerous ancient texts dating as far back as the time of Herodotus. 

Themiscyra was on the coast of the Black Sea. (german.fanshare.com)

What Was Themiscyra Like?

According to descriptions, Themiscyra was a paradise. It provided the Amazon women with all the necessities: fresh water, plenty of game animals, and an abundance of edible fruits and plants. The residents of Themiscyra were controlled by Aphrodite's Law, which stated that as long as no name came to their land, the Amazon women of Themiscyra would be immortal. 

Wonder Woman's home is Themiscyra. (jsnmeija.artstation.com)

Themyscira And Wonder Woman

When DC Comics introduced the Wonder Woman character, they made her a princess of the Amazons and a daughter of Themyscira. At first, Wonder Woman's home was simply called Paradise Island, but as the comic series expanded and more elements of Greek mythology were incorporated into her story, its name was changed to Themyscira. In the 2017 movie Wonder Woman, Themyscira is shown as a beautiful, clearly Greek-influenced island protected by a force field that keeps it hidden from the outside world.

The mythical home of the Amazons may have been just a myth. (gizmodo.com.au)

Was Themiscyra Real?

Like most places mentioned in classic myths, the exact location of Themiscyra remains shrouded in mystery. While most textual evidence points to the home of the Amazons as being an actual place, we cannot know for sure if there was, in fact, a tribe of warrior women living together in the southern part of the Black Sea.

Tags: Ancient Greece | greek mythology | Legends and Myth

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.