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The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  18 reviews
European civilization between 6500 and 3500 BC - long before Greek or Judaeo-Christian civilizations flourished - was not a provincial reflection of neighboring Near Eastern cultures but a distinct culture with its own unique identity. The mythical imagery of this matrilinear era tells us much about early humanity's concepts of the cosmos, of human relations with nature, ...more
Paperback, Updated, 304 pages
Published March 15th 1982 by University of California Press (first published 1974)
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Barnaby Thieme
Gimbutas's survey of Bronze Age and Chalcolithic religion in South-Central Europe is a tour de force of scholarship that revolutionized our concept of the evolution of religious culture when it first appeared. Reviewing archaeological evidence from around 7000 - 3500 BCE she argues for the existence of a fairly homogeneous sedentary agricultural cultural zone with a continuity of religious symbols primarily based around different forms of the goddess. In this book she briefly mentions but does ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gimbutas has been accused of "finding what she wants" in her researches and writings, viz. that there was a matriarchal pantheon centered around fertility, hunting, and other stuff in pre-Classical Europe. She certainly makes a good case for it, basing her findings around statuary and relics found throughout mostly SE Europe. She all that and makes a good effort at reconstructing what believers in Old Europe might have chased after, religiously-speaking, which probably isn't to the liking of ...more
Nicole Westen
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I was a little leery of this book at first, mostly because it was published quite a while ago, and I wasn't sure what kind of biases or inaccuracies might be in it. But I was incredibly surprised. This is more of an archaeological than theological book, and there are numerous pictures of finds of neolithic art/ritual objects. I think the most important thing about this book was actually in the conclusion, when Gimbutas states that for many of us, European history starts at Greece. But there were ...more
Araminta Matthews
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it
As good as the others. This one had a more narrative lens, which was nice.
Flint Johnson
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was my first real introduction to pre-civilization cultures. If you look hard enough, you will find plenty of criticism about her work. You might even say that some of it is legitimate. However, you must remember where the work was coming from. Gimbutas was very active in the same period as the Feminist Movement. That particular period caused a great many books to be written. 'The Feminine Mystique' and 'The Other Sex' are two of the most noteworthy, but there were also several 'historical' ...more
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every single person everywhere
every literate person should read this book. it should be taught in school from kindergarten through college.
Denise M
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-as-book
A fabulous sourcebook on Goddess history and archaeology. Gimbutas was a powerhouse of excellent research and commitment to her area of study. A fundamental resource text.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gimbutas champions neolithic cultures, pulling together interdisciplinary research documenting the matrifocal, egalitarian and peaceful societies of the pre-Indo European peoples. Her deep dive into mythology accompanied with artifacts from the time period is absolutely fascinating and accessible to anyone with an interest in the subject. I was awed by the spiritual objects and how they hinted at the importance of sacred relationships cultivated with the earth and cosmos thousands of years prior ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
It is trury fascinating to have a glimpse of the Vinca culture and the archetype of Mother earth associated with it, none the less Marija Gimbutas in her time focused too much on relating every artifact with the Goddess. Which I do believe had a central role in the culture she was presenting, but some interpretations of very abstract artifacts could be maybe interpreted a little bit biased on what she wanted to proof.
. un catálogo pormenorizado de restos arqueólogicos del Neolítico que van del octavo al primer milenio a. d. N. E. y a través de los cuales la autora define el culto a una gran diosa, previo a las religiones de origen indoeuropea
Carole Brooks Platt
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very useful for my dissertation on matriarchal myth!
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mary Mycio
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first got interested in Marija Gimbutas when I got interested in Eastern European archaeology. Her work here is magisterial and though I don't always attribute the same meaning she does to Old European art and symbolism (not everything is the Goddess, sometime a line is just a line) the illustrations alone are fascinating and demonstrate a zeitgeist we can only guess at. Though her Goddess theories have earned her dismissal and some ridicule, it is gratifying now that her Kurgan Theory of ...more
I'm not sure this is one of Gimbutas' books I've read--I've read many of them, and this title looks familiar.

These books tend to be coffee-table size, because of all the illustrations. I wish I could get copies for my private library, but even if I could find a used one, it'd be too big to fit on my shelves.

The theories advanced are a bit unorthodox--but as a person with a background in archaeology, I'm more aware than most of the politicized nature of orthodoxy. Enough people have joined
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'll admit I mostly skimmed this book and only read a few chapters in their entirety. My takeaway is that Old Europe expressed a lot of mythologic ideas that influenced later civilizations. I also learned that Old Europe was more than just the Vinca culture but actually started much earlier and spanned a much larger area.
Nov 05, 2012 added it
Shelves: antiquity, mythology
To be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Hunter Yoder
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book so much I did a Goddess painting for it!
Have wanted these books of hers for years, but they are hard to find. Definitely on my "Wish List"
Yuhun Şuhan
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Barry Best
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Sep 30, 2012
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Mar 31, 2013
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Jun 01, 2015
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Sep 26, 2014
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Paul Garza
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Apr 28, 2016
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Marija (Alseikaite) Gimbutas (Lithuanian: Marija Gimbutienė), was a Lithuanian-American archeologist known for her research into the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of "Old Europe", a term she introduced. Her works published between 1946 and 1971 introduced new views by combining traditional spadework with linguistics and mythological interpretation, but earned a mixed reception by other ...more