If you’re reading this shortly after publication, then I don’t need to tell you about the horrific tragedy of the fires deliberately set in the Amazon Rainforest.
Focusing just on the name Amazon, I’ve often briefly wondered why the name was shared by the South American river and rainforest, as well the Ancient Greek all-female warrior tribe.
Before getting into that, it’s interesting to note the (possible) etymology of the word Amazon itself. The exact etymology isn’t definitively known, but one possibility is that it’s derived from an Iranian compound, ha-maz-an (one fighting together).
The popular belief however, even though there’s not much evidence to support it, is that it’s derived from a- (without) and mazos (a variation of mastos – breast), in reference to the belief that the Amazons cut or burned off a breast in order to more easily draw bowstrings.
When the South American was first encountered by Spanish conquistadors, it was named Rio Santa Maria de la Mar Dulce. However, in 1541, Francisco de Orellana, claimed to have encountered a group of fierce female warriors of the Tapuya people, and renamed it the Amazon in reference to the ancient warriors.
Hopefully in the future the rainforest will still be intact, so people can still wonder about the name.