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Language of the Goddess, The

Product no.: 0-06-251243-9
In this richly illustrated volume, the noted archaeologist and prehistorian Marija Gimbutas brings prepatriarchal civilization to life.

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Publisher's Synopsis

A pioneer in archaeomythology - the interdisciplinary field based on archaeology, comparative mythology, and folklore - Gimbutas unequivocally establishes the existence of a goddess religion in Neolithic Europe with its roots in the Paleolithic.

Through the interpretation of images and symbols, she reveals these matriarchal cultures, decoding the symbolic language that has remained embedded in our civilization. Illustrated with nearly 2,000 symbolic artifacts - sculptures, figurines, temple models, frescoes, vases, sacrificial containers - the book establishes the Goddess as the most persistent feature in the archaeological record of the ancient world.

A symbol of the unity of all life in nature, her power was in water and stone, in cave and tomb, in animals and birds, in hills, trees, and flowers. Her main functions were life-giving, death-wielding, and regenerative. Gimbutas's magnum opus takes the existence of goddess-worshiping, earth-centered, egalitarian, and nonviolent cultures out of the realm of speculation into that of documented fact. Foreword by Joseph Campbell. 526 illustrations.


"Bringing together archaeological evidence, comparative mythology and folklore, and symbolic interpretations, Gimbutas's work asserts the existence in prehistoric Europe of a widespread culture centered on the Goddess, lifegiver and sustainer, as well as death-wielder. Through the examination of hundreds of Paleolithic and mostly Neolithic pieces, the author traces cross-cultural and cross-chronological symbolic parallels, some of which are quite broad and open to several types of inference.

The central and venerated position of women in the unconscious of early European people seems probable; this order of things changed with the incursions by Kurgan groups (4300-2800 B.C.) and the European world moved 'from matrilineal to patrilineal.' Whether or not one agrees with these archaeomythological interpretations, Gimbutas offers a thought-provoking symbolic reading of hundreds of selected pieces, beautifully reproduced in this sizeable compendium."      ~Library Journal

"One of the most breathtaking examples of a new surge of feminist-oriented scholarship."      ~Washington Post

"A powerful magnum opus... visually rich and intellectually intriguing."       ~San Francisco Chronicle

"Rings with the belief that knowledge about a goddess-worshipping past can guide the world toward a sexually egalitarian, nonviolent, and earth-centered future."       ~New York Times

"The historic and prehistoric Life-giver was a Mistress of mountains, stones, waters, forests, and animals, and incarnation of the mysterious powers of nature. Being an owner of wells, springs, and healing waters, she was a miraculous bestower of health. Through prehistory and history she appeared as a bird woman, bird, or woman. As a waterbird she was a nourisher of humanity and an increaser of material goods. She was the guardian of the well-being of the family and from Paleolithic times must have been considered to be the ancestress and progenetrix of the family or clan."

The prodigious accomplishments of Marija Gimbutas include the publication of nearly twenty books and over three hundred articles on European prehistory. The texts published between 1946 and 1971 earned her reputation as a world-class specialist on the Indo-European Bronze Age as well as on Lithuanian folk art and the prehistory of the Balts and the Slavs. Her last three books, however, have stimulated vigorous responses from both the academic and lay communities throughout the world. The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974, 1982), The Language of the Goddess (1989), and The Civilization of the Goddess (1991) reveal an interpretation of European prehistory that challenges many traditional assumptions about the beginnings of European civilization.

Author Gimbutas, Marija
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 416 pp.
Publisher HarperCollins 1991
Browse these categories as well: The Matriarchy and Woman's Spirituality, Gods, Goddesses and Archetypes, Primitive and Derivative Religions

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