• Archaeologists uncovered a pair of 1,500-year-old skeletal evidence of women warrior in ancient societies
  • Skeletons were found in a cemetery at the Airagiin Gozgor archaeological site, in the Orkhon province, northern Mongolia
  • Women warriors might have been the inspiration for the origin stories of Mulan

Archaeologists have uncovered a pair of 1,500-year-old skeletons in Mongolia that might have inspired the Ballad of Mulan.

The remains belonged to two women who lived during the Xianbei period (A.D. 147 to 552), a period of political fragmentation and unrest that gave rise to the Ballad of Mulan, researchers suggest.

The skeletal remains indicate that the women, one about age 20 and the other over 50, were skilled in archery and had extensive experience on horseback riding. Some bones were altered by frequent horse riding or damaged from falls off horses as both had signs of trauma on their spine, which is a common injury among riders.

Bones in the shoulders and chest of the two Mongolian women show evidence of having used bows and arrows to shoot due to the indications of the repetitive motion of the thumbs, as one would see in archers.

Researchers also accounted that their faces and heads also had arrowhead injuries.

Per the Live Science report, study researchers Christine Lee and Yahaira Gonzalez, bioarchaeologists at California State University, Los Angeles said that perhaps the women were athletic during the Xianbei period because "it may have been that women were needed to defend home and country alongside the men."

Lee also told Live Science that many historians pin Mulan to the Xianbei period and that her study links to what the historians and other researchers have been finding.

The skeletons were uncovered during an excavation of a cemetery at the Airagiin Gozgor archaeological site, in the Orkhon province of northern Mongolia.

According to Artnet News, Lee said that "[It was] a period of mass migrations, short-lived states, and constant warfare between states. It's the Asian Dark Ages" and that the women who fought for their country were probably the inspiration for the original stories of Mulan.

Lee explained that Chinese women were expected to stay at home while northern nomadic women were traditionally more mobile and had more independence and freedom. "They were allowed to make more decisions about their own lives," she continued.

The archaeologists have not published their findings in peer-reviewed journals yet. However, they plan to continue their search for the tombs of Mongolian female fighters. "Bada** women may go back a long way in northern Asian nomadic groups," Lee told Science News.

"Mulan" may be delayed yet again. Walt Disney Studios