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Amazon Warriors' Names Revealed Amid "Gibberish" on Ancient Greek Vases

Ancient Greek vases with inscriptions that were once thought to be nonsense turn out to include the names of legendary Amazons, the famed warrior women.

In a forthcoming study of pottery dating to 500 B.C., study lead author Adrienne Mayor and J. Paul Getty Museum assistant curator David Saunders translated Greek inscriptions into their phonetic sounds for 12 ancient vases from Athens dated from 550 B.C. to 450 B.C. The inscriptions appear next to scenes of Amazons fighting, swimming, or shooting arrows.

They next submitted just the phonetic transcriptions without explanation to linguist John Colarusso of Canada’s McMaster University in Hamilton, who is an expert on rare languages of the Caucasus. He translated the inscriptions into names—such as Princess, Don’t Fail, and Hot Flanks—without knowing the details of the pictures of Amazons. Read more.