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Amazon Warriors’ Names Revealed on Ancient Greek Vases

Translations reveal Amazons’ names such as Don’t Fail and Hot Flanks hidden in ancient “nonsense” inscriptions

By Dan Vergano

Ancient Greek vases have revealed the hidden names of Amazons, mythology’s warrior women, in a report deciphering ancient languages unspoken for millennia.

In the forthcoming study of pottery dating from 550 B.C. to 450 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. The inscriptions appear next to scenes of Amazons fighting, hunting, 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.

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