In memory of Marija Gimbutas
Where were the women?
many of us remember our lessons on ancient civilizations from grade school?
If we remember anything, we most likely recall information on "cavemen,"
terms like "Cro-Magnon" and
"Neanderthal," not to mention "Australopithecus africanus." No doubt, most of the teachings for Americans (or for me, at least) centered on male archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists,
who were set on supporting the patriarchal myth of the male as the superior sex, the strong one,who faught in the battles, hunted for all the food, controlled his women, while somehow finding
time to invent writing, civilization, the wheel, and discover fire.
Women? Well, when they're mentioned at all, we're told they had the babies, of course, and cooked the food.
Is there more to this story?
Where's the other half of it?
Well, it turns out that not only is there a missing half to this ancient
story, but the other half that
we've been taught is full of misinformation and propaganda.
Unearthing a new possibility
"other half" of the information that has been so blatantly ignored and
suppressed has come to light through the pioneering work of the late archaeologist,
Marija Gimbutas. Gimbutas was a
classically trained archaeologist, who, in the 1960's, unearthed startling evidence of peaceful civilizations living in Western Europe before 3000 B.C.E.
discovered evidence strongly suggesting that these peaceful civilizations
worshipped the Earth as a Mother Goddess, with some variation from culture
to culture. In addition, she found
almost no evidence of gender oppression or gender apartheid. Of course, the remaining "classical" archaeologists (almost all of whom are male) have by and large refuted Gimbutas' research,
claiming that it is all speculation. Yet it has never occurred to these men that the archaeology that they have been preaching could also be reduced to mere speculation.
Since we can't go back in time and observe these cultures (or can we?),
we will never know for certain what they were like. Nonetheless, it will
benefit us all, particular women, if we try to put
aside our ingrained male prejudice and allow the possibility that the world was not always "ruled" by men. And yet, it can be easily seen why this possibility is threatening to the "classical" archaeologist, and most men. Indeed, if the world was not always a "man's world," what stake could men claim in continuing the oppression of women?
The two books detailing her pioneering research into these ancient cultures,
HIGHLY recommended to anyone seeking information on this important research, are:
Gimbutas, Marija. The Civilization of the Goddess, Harper, 1991.
Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess, Harper, 1989.
visit Maureen's website please go to the links page for her URL.
Gimbutas was born in 1921 in Lithuania. Greatly affected by
peasant life in her country and peasants' close ties to the earth, she
helped document and collect Lithuanian folklore and songs-in a time
when the country was occupied by Poland and the Lithuanian
language was still banned since the Russian occupation. In 1941, in the midst of war, she escaped to exile with her doctoral dissertation under one arm and her infant daughter in the other. She arrived in the U.S. in 1949 and began her career at Harvard University studying the warriors and weapons of the Bronze Age of Europe. Although she
became a world-class expert on the Indo-European Bronze Age, she
began delving into ever-deeper layers of the past, discovering
something no archaeological theory accounted for at the time:
thousands of female figures in art and pottery, and no evidence of
warfare prior to Indo-European influence. By the time of her move to
UCLA, she turned more completely to studies of this older time, the
Neolithic, the area of her speciality and subject of her writing for the remainder of her life. She died
of cancer in 1994. In addition to over 300 articles, she wrote 33 books including the more popular Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, Language of the Goddess, Civilization of the Goddess,
and newly released The Living Goddesses, which she was working on at the time of her death.
Gimbutas' influence has been wide reaching. During the last few years of
his life, noted writer and historian Joseph Campbell often spoke of Gimbutas,
profoundly regretting that her research on
the Neolithic cultures of Europe was not available when he was writing The Masks of God. Otherwise, he would have "revised everything." Campbell compared the importance of Marija's work
to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
1967-1968 - Project Director, Smithsonian-sponsored excavation
jointly conduced by UCLA-Sarajevo Semaljski Musej at Obre,
Bosnia, Yugoslavia. Stratified Starcevo and Butmir settlements. c.
1968-1969 - Project Director, National Science
Foundation-sponsored excavation, jointly conducted by
UCLA-Sheffield University at Photolivos (Sitagroi) near Drama,
Greek Macedonia. Statified[??] Karanovo and Early Bronze Age
tell. c. 5000-2000 B.C.E.
1969-1971 - Project Director, Smithsonian-sponsored excavation
jointly carried out [?] by UCLA-stip Muzej at Anza, near Stip,
Yugoslavia Macedonia. Stratified Starcevo and Vinca settlement,
1973-1975 - Project Director, UCLA excavation at Achilleion,
near Farsala, Thessaly, Greece, sponsored by the National Science
Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Stratified
Neolithic tell. from c. 6500-5600 B.C.E. Sesklo culture.
1977-1980 - Project Director, jointly conducted by UCLA-Genoa
University at Scaloria, near Manfredonia, Southeastern Italy. Cave
sanctuary from 5600-5300 B.C.E.
1956-1960 - National Science Foundation Senior Post-Doctoral
Fellowship (for the preparation of the Bronze Age Cultures of
Central and Eastern Europe).
1960 - Inter-University Committee, Bloomington, Indiana
(exchange scholar with the USSR and Hungary).
1960 - World Refugee Committee and Boston Junior Chamber of
Commerce (Outstanding New American Award).
1963 - American Council for Learned Societies (in support of The
1967 - Humanities Endowment Award (for studies of the Neolithic
period of Europe).
1967-1968 - Smithsonian Institution, Foreign Currency Program (in
support of excavations of stratified, Neolithic sites at Obre, Bosnia,
Yugoslavia and Anza, Macedonia).
1968 - American Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
(exchange professor with the USSR).
1968 - The Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year Award.
1968-1969 - National Science Foundation (grant in support of the
excavation at Sitagroi, Macedonia).
1968-1972 - The Samuel H. Kress Foundation (studies of
southeast European Neolithic figurines and ritual pottery).
1970 - Wenner-Gren (grant-in-aid for the study of the chronology
of Old Europe on the basis of radiocarbon dates and tree ring
1973 - National Science Foundation (grant in support of the UCLA
excavation at Achilleton, Thessaly, and the Sporadhes islands).
Books and Articles:
1. Die Bestatttung in Litauen in der vorgeschichtlichen Zeit.
Tubingen.1946. J.c.g. Mohr Verlag, 250 pp., 26 pls., 55 text illus.
2. "Prehistory of Eastern Europe, Part I. Mesolithic, Neolithic and
Copper Age cultures in Russia and the Baltic area". American
School of Prehistoric Research, Peabody Museum, Harvard
University, Bulletin No. 20 Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1956,
241 pp., 50 pls., 126 text illus. (Second printing in 1958)
3. "Ancient Symbolism in Lithuanian Folk Art ". American Folklore
Society, Memoir Series, Vol. 49, Philadelphia, 1958. 169 pp. with
4. "Rytprusiu ir Vakaru Lietuvos priesisoriens kluturos apzvalga. (A
survey of prehistory of East Prussia and western Lithuania)".
Studia Lituanica, I. (In Lithuanian with English and German
summaries) New York, 121 pp., 88 fig. (English summary pp.
5. "The Balts". Ancient Peoples and Places, vol. 33. Thames and
Hudson: New York: Praeger, London:1963. 286 pp. 79 pls., 47 text
figures, 11 maps.
6. Bronze Age Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe. The
Hague: Mouton, 1965. 681 pp., 115 pls., 462 text illus., index.
7. "I Baltici". Uomo e mito, vol. 53. Milano: Il saggiatore, 1967.
265 pp., 52 text ills., 79 plates.
8. "The Slavs". Ancient Peoples and Places, vol. 74., London:
Thames and Hudson; New York and Washington, D.C.: Praeger.,
240 pp., 75 pls., 48 text illus., 15 maps.
9. The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, 7000-3500 B.C.:
Myths, Legends, Cult Images. London: Thames and Hudson;
Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974. 303
pp., 252, pls., 171 line drawings, 8 maps.
10. Obre, Neolithic Sites in Bosnia. (editor) Wissenschaftliche
Mittetlungen des Bosrusch-Ilerzegowinlschen Landesmuseums,
Band IV, Heft. A. Archaeologic. Sarajevo, 1974
11. Neolithic Macedonia 6500-5000 B.C. (editor) 1976, Los
Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, UCLA. Monumenta
Archaeologica I. 470 pp., 47 pls., 60 color frames, 250 text illus., 52
12. "The Transformation of European and Anatolian Cultures
4500-2500 B.C. and Its Legacy". Part I: The Journal of
Indo-European Studies, Vol. 8, 1-2: Part II: The Journal of
Indo-European Studies, Vol. 8, 3-4: Part III: The Journal of
Indo-European Studies, Vol. 9. 1-2. 1980-1980. (Editor)
13. The Goddess and Gods of Old Europe, 6500-3500 B.C.,
London: Thames and Hudson. Berkeley-Los Angeles: . . .
14. "Baltai priesistoriniais laikais". Etnogeneze, medziagine
kultura irmitologya. Vilnius: Mokalas, 1985. 192 pp., 94 line
drawings, 29 plates.
15. Excavations at Sitagroi. A Prehistoric Village in
Northeast Greece. Vol. I. Los Angeles. Editor with Colin
Renfrew and Ernestine Elster. 515 pp. of text with text illus. and
16. Achilleton, An Early Neolithic Site in Thessaly, Greece, c.
6500-5700 B.C. (a final excavation report of 1973-74),
UCLA, Institute of Archaeology, Monumenta Archaeologica series,
1989. approx. 500 pp., 500 illustrations.
17. The Language of the Goddess: Sacred Images and
Symbols of Old Europe. Introduction by Joseph Campbell. San
Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989. c. 500 pp., 500 illustrations (with
c. 2000 objects illus.).
18.Civilization of Old Europe. Two volumes. In Romanian
translation (translated by Sorin Paliga). Bucharest: Editura
19.Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe. (In Japanese
translation). Tokyo: UNI Inc., 1989.
20.The Civilization of the Goddess. HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
21. Senoji Europa (Old Europe). . Vilnius:Mokslo ir enciklopediju
22. The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of
Europe. Edited by Miriam Robbins Dexter and Karlene
Jones-Bley. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph no. 18.
Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man. 1997.
23.The Living Goddesses. Edited and supplemented by Miriam
Robbins Dexter. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California
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