Iranian Women Warriors
by Shapour Suren-Pahlav
days in Islamic Iran, Iranian women are fallen so low that they even not
permitted to watch men compete on the football field, or they
have to cover themselves from men under the backwards Islamic sharia
their ancestors in pre-Islamic era were carving the boys to
pieces on the battlefield.
DNA tests on the 2,000-year-old bones of a sword-wielding
Iranian warrior have revealed the broad-framed skeleton belonged
to woman, an archaeologist working in the northwestern city of
"Despite earlier comments that the warrior was a man
because of the metal sword, DNA tests showed the skeleton inside
the tomb belonged to a female warrior," Alireza
Hojabri-Nobari told the Persian daily Hambastegi.
He added that the tomb, which had all the trappings of a
warrior's final resting place, was one of 109 and that DNA tests
were being carried out on the other skeletons.
Other ancient tombs believed to belong to women warriors have
been unearthed close to the Caspian Sea
in Pre-Islamic Iran
role of Iranian women in history can be traced back to the
Avestan Period (ca. 1800 BCE) of Iranian history. Women in
Avestan era hold an especial and even a venerated place.
venerate the righteous woman who is good in thoughts,
words, and deeds, who is well-educated, is an authority on
religious affairs, is progressively serene, and is like
the women who belong to the Wise God." (Holy Gathas -
Aiwisruthrem Gah 9)
is these people who, with their actions, promote the world
though righteousness." (Visparad 3.4)
Zoroastrian rligion consideres total equality between men and women Ahuramazad, the name
God in Avestan language, affirms such equality. The name is a compound of ahura-
meaning lord (masculine) and -mazda from Avestan
stem of mas- wisdom (feminine). Also three of
the six Amesha Spentas (the divine attributes of
God), Aramaity (serenity), Haurvatat
(wholeness), and Ameretat (immortality) are of
Avestan era's pastoralist-equestrian-warrior
society, ancient Iranian women fought alongside their men
- and not only they
were held in an equal status with men, but also
periodically they actually ruled them; this so called
"upside-down society" both fascinated and horrified the male
dominated Greek culture.
Later, the Romans expressed the same horror, when they
encountered the Sasanian female warriors. During
the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE) many of the Iranian
soldiers captured by Romans were women which were fighting
shoulder to shoulders of their male-countrymen..
incredible social equality, at such an early age, is
irrefutably attested, not only by a host of classical
writers, but also by a wealth of archaeological evidence;
in many mound- burials in the former Soviet Union, it is
by no means unusual to find remains of women warriors
dressed in full armour, lying on a war chariot, surrounded
by their weaponry, and significantly, accompanied by a
host of male subordinates specially sacrificed in their
honour; nonetheless, these young Iranian warriors, as
evidenced by the archaeological remains of their costumes
and jewellery, do not seem to have lost their femininity.
dates during the Achaemenid
dynasty (550-330 BCE), women continued to play an important role in everyday life. Noble Achaemenid women
only have exercised an influence on affairs of state, but
also the imperial female households possessed their own
estates. Historical documents survive showing their active
involvement in management, such as letters relate to the shipment
of grain, wine, and animals to palaces from distant
Achaemenid empresses and their ladies-in-waiting are known to have played
polo against the King of Kings and the courtiers.
Persepolis cuneiform tablets discovered in 1930s, have
revealed that Iranian women during the Achaemenid dynasty were
employed and rations they received are based on skill and
the level of responsibility they assumed in the workplace,
rather than their gender - the new mothers and pregnant
women received higher rations than everyone else. Many
women employed as the head-workers and sometimes their
wages were double of their male counterparts.
Fortification texts also revealed that royal women
travelled extensively visited their estates and
administered their wealth individually and at times with
help from their husbands.
traditions continued into Parthian and Sasanian dynastic
eras. Empress Purandokht, who were daughter of king
Khosrow II (Aparvaiz) reigned Persian empire for almost
two years before resigning.
women therefore, have respected the sanctity of women and
their role in the society as evident from their role in
future Iranian societies, and before the coming of Islam
in 7th century.
There are large numbers of historical
accounts from Roman and Greek periods, regarding
Iranian women warriors. In one account Zonaras XII
reports: ".. amongst those who fell in the
Persian army and were being stripped of their arms
there are said to have been found women also,
dressed and armed like men, and that such a women
were also taken alive by the Romans..."; --
"..Persians enlisted the help of their women
in the danger,.. (Libanius, LIX)"; and "So
they [Persians] mastered all forces, every age, sex,
and condition, and marched against us, men and mere
boys, old men and crowds of women and slaves,
who followed not merely to assist in the war, .."
M. H., and Lieu S. N. C., The Roman Eastern
Frontiers and the Persian Wars (AD 226-363; A
Documentry History, London (1991), pp. 24, 67, 184,
197 and 307.)