Marija Gimbutas

This information is provided by   ©Maureen A. Barlow, 1998-99.

In memory of Marija Gimbutas

Where were the women?

How 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

 That "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.

 Gimbutas 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, and
 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.

To visit Maureen's website please go to the links page for her URL.

This information  is provided by Belili Productions, a collaboration of the author Starhawk (The Spiral Dance, Dreaming the Dark, Truth or Dare, The Fifth Sacred Thing, and Walking to Mercury), and  filmmaker Donna Read (director of Goddess Remembered, The
         Burning Times, and Full Circle, in the Women and Spirituality
         series at the National Film Board of Canada).

Marija 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.

Marija 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.

Dr. Gimbutas work:

         1967-1968 - Project Director, Smithsonian-sponsored excavation
         jointly conduced by UCLA-Sarajevo Semaljski Musej at Obre,
         Bosnia, Yugoslavia. Stratified Starcevo and Butmir settlements. c.
         5500-4500 B.C.E.

         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,
         6300-500 B.C.E.

         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
         157 illus.

         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
         109 plates.

         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
         Meridiane, 1989.

         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
         leidykla, 1996.

         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
         Press. 1999.

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