The Amazons were described by Herodotus (c. 484 bc – c. 425 bc) as neighbours of the Alan tribe in Scythia. Most historians over the years have considered them nothing more than a myth. However excavations have shown that women comprise about 25% of Scythian military burials, and are usually buried with arms.
No-one knows where the word 'Amazon' comes from, though there is a long-standing folk etymology which says that it means 'without breast'. The Amazon River is probably named after the women. It was supposedly coined by the conquistador Francisco de Orellana (1511-46), after an encounter with female warriors of the Tapuyas. Other etymologists claim that the name comes from a local word meaning 'wave'.
Amazon.com was originally called cadabra.com, but the name was changed when it was realised that the word sounds a little like 'cadaver'. The founders then chose 'Amazon' after the river.
The bodyguards of the King of Dahomey (in modern day Benin) were known in the 19th century as 'The Amazons', due to their similarity to the semi-mythical group of female warriors.
They supposedly started as elephant hunters; a large group of the women would accost an elephant and defeat it by sheer numbers. Seeing their success, the king decided to make them his personal bodyguard. All members of the army were nominally married to the king, though they were all sworn to celibacy. They were chosen for their aggression - a husband could volunteer his wife for the bodyguard if he was nagged too much. One weapon they carried was a type of flick-knife that was supposedly capable of cutting a man in two.
The group was disbanded thanks to the French conquest of 1892-94; one French soldier was reportedly wounded when an Amazon attacked his larynx with her teeth.
Many see the Amazons' plight as tragic, they 'had to surrender their womanhood, turn into men, and despise women'. But the Amazons were also venerated: when one walked through the streets, she was accompanied by a slave girl ringing a bell which meant that all men had to avert their eyes.
The hand could not be very delicate that was only employed in drawing the bow and brandishing the battle axe…
In 2007, new measurements showed the Amazon had overtaken the Nile as the world's longest river.