Fans of Wonder Woman know that she hails from Themyscira, an all-female utopia where Amazon women are immortal – provided they follow Aphrodite’s Law that no man ever sets foot on the archipelago. While there was once a pre-ancient Greece city by that name, the all-female island part was pure myth … until 2018, when American millionaire Kristina Roth bought an island off the coast of Finland and turned it into the all-female land of SuperShe Island. Male construction workers were allowed until the building was completed, then banned. Only Roth’s male family members and close friends can enter SuperShe.
On the male side, the mountain and peninsula in northeastern Greece known as Mount Athos is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, over 2,000 male monks and, since the 10th century CE, no women. In fact, no female pets or domestic animals either – there goes the milk. While there’s no Greek god promising immortality, the ‘no women’ rule has been strictly and perfectly enforced … or so they thought. A female anthropologist, Laura Wynn-Antikas, studying bones removed from beneath the stone floor of a Byzantine chapel on Mount Athos (no, she didn’t have to go to Mount to get them) determined that they were the remains of a …. you guessed it … woman.
“If we are talking about a woman, or indeed more than one woman, it will raise a lot of questions. Starting with who could she have possibly been.”
Wynn-Antikas says the remains were originally buried somewhere else and later moved to beneath the chapel floor, so she’s not certain if they’re from one or possibly more women. Nor does she know their age — radiocarbon dating will help with that. Dr Yannis Maniatis, Greece’s foremost leader in the field of archaeological science, is doing the dating, which he told The Guardian will take three months. With a time period for when the woman lived on Mount Athos, researchers will have one big clue to help determine why she was there – making her the first and, so far, only woman ever found on the mountain since the ban was put into effect.
Needless to say, the monks aren’t really interested in finding out who this woman is – they’re just relieved she’s old enough that none of them can be blamed for her being there. One woman they know it isn’t is the woman who inspired the all-male law in the first place – Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the legend, Mary was sailing with St. John the Evangelist to Cyprus to visit Lazarus – still kicking after being brought back to life. Blown off course, the boat landed on Athos, which Mary fell in love with. It was said to have been consecrated as her official garden and no other women would ever be allowed to set foot there. There are records of monks living there since possibly the third century CE, with non-Christian non-monks of the female kind also residing there. The ban most likely kicked in full force when the first Byzantine monasteries were established in the 9th century.
As for the all-female island of SuperShe, the ‘no men allowed’ rules may be bent a little more when Kristina Roth marries her male fiancé. There goes a great plot for a movie.