January 05, 2020

Did Amazons Have Only One Breast?
Excavations in Russia have uncovered the graves of four ancient female warriors who were buried roughly 2,500 years ago. The women were unearthed with weapons and at least one was still adorned with an elaborate headdress at the time of her internment. This is the latest of a series of archeological discoveries that invoke the legends of the Amazons. Marvel’s Wonder Woman aside, this quasi-mythical group of Bronze-age fighting women are best known in popular culture for their military prowess, hatred of men, and predilection for lesbianism. But who were they actually? And is this discovery evidence of their existence?The most recent discovery, published in the Journal of the Akson Russian Science  Communication Association, identifies the women as Scythian nomads. In the last decade, archaeologist and lead author Valerii Guliaev of the article said, the graves of eleven women (complete with weapons) were discovered. The most recent four were identified as members of three different generations. The discoveries were made in Devitsa, part of the Ostrogozhsky District of the Voronezh region in Russia. Discoveries of graves of armed women have been found elsewhere in the Scythian burial mounds that are scattered across the huge Eurasian Steppe region (the large area of unforested grassland that stretches from northern China, through Siberia, to the northern Black Sea). The distinctive burial style used by the Scythians— mounds, that were often arranged in lines, with larger mounds being used for higher status individuals —makes the graves easy for both scholars and looters to identify. One of the remarkable things about the most recent discovery is that it had been untouched by grave robbers: the weapons and headdresses were found in situ in the graves of the women.So, are these the Amazons of lore? Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘Amazon.’ The origins of the term are rather convoluted and the actual mythology of the Amazons is pretty incoherent and difficult to follow. According to ancient myth Heracles and Achilles both bested Amazon queens in battle. Ancient historians refer to the military skirmishes between the Amazons and lauded ancient leaders like Cyrus the Great of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey. Some say that the word “Amazon” comes from the fact that the Amazon women only had one (the left) breast. The famed ancient doctor Hippocrates even describes the medical procedure by which the Amazons achieved this look. He writes that “while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm.”Ancient sources locate the home of the Amazons not in South America, but in Scythia (or sometimes Asia Minor or Crete) on the fringes of the great ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome. In her thorough book The Amazons classicist Adrienne Mayor argues that historically “Amazons” were not men-free cultures. Within broader ancient Greek and Roman literature, she argues, people used the term “Amazon” as an ethnonym that referred to groups in which women were strong, independent, and equal to men. Amazons weren’t tribes of women, but rather warrior groups from the steppes in which men and women rode into battle alongside one another. Her argument makes some sense when you look at the literary evidence. The ancient geographer Strabo, for example, discusses the Amazons as a people that was made up or men and women. Others ancient authors refer to them as ruled by women, but none of the ancient sources suggest that they were men-free. In fact, most sources assume that the amazon women were heterosexual. Mayor argues that the ancient Greek argument that the word ‘amazon’ means “with one breast” is a misunderstanding that comes from the practice of strapping the breasts down in order to prevent them from moving while riding. In other words, it’s about their ancient sports bras. Mayor suggests that the actual origins of the word might more probably come from the Iranian ha-mazon, which means warriors.Some have criticized Mayor’s study for overstating the available evidence and for seeing Amazons everywhere. The red caps sometimes used to identify Amazons in ancient art were also used to portray mythological characters from the eastern Mediterranean. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a Scythian woman is just a Scythian woman.Myth or not, Ancient Greeks and Romans were clearly fascinated by this kind of social organization but never tried to implement these kinds of sex relations themselves. They did, however, share stories about the Amazons and, as Michele Kennerly and Carly Woods have pointed out, make dolls of Amazon women. They even used the image of the Amazon mid-battle preparing to lasso someone to decorate women’s belongings. One fifth century BCE ‘handbag’ or pyxis, which would have been used to hold jewelry or make up, shows just such a scene. It’s appearance on the bag was a clever joke about the various ways that women ensnare men and, one might say, a form of ancient cultural appropriation.Certainly, the mythology of the Amazons as man-hating lesbian “barbarians” who enslaved weaker men and killed or mutilated infant boys is the stuff of legend. Much of that legend comes from more recent historiography. Sexism and colonialism loom large in the imagination of medieval and European historians and explorers. The Amazon river is so-named because the sixteenth century conquistador Francisco de Orellana claimed to have fought a group of warlike women on one of the Amazon’s rivers. Both Christopher Columbus and Sir Walter Raleigh mention the Amazons even though their travels took them thousands of miles away from the historical origins of the horse-riding warrior women of antiquity. Both ancient and modern Europeans like to use ‘Amazon’ as a euphemism for ‘barbarian’ and ‘other.’Are these newly discovered women ‘Amazons’? Perhaps. But if you are a woman who competes in the same sphere as men who has sometimes found herself labelled ‘aggressive’, ‘man-hating’, or ‘unnatural’ then rest assured that you’re not alone. You’re an amazon.  
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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