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The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images, New and Updated Edition Paperback – March 15, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0520046559 ISBN-10: 0520046552 Edition: 1st Updated

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Updated edition (March 15, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520046552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520046559
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Curator of Old World Archaeology at what is now the Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Her book The Living Goddesses (California, 1999) was published in April 1999.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Kaulika on February 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book, Gimbutas lays out what will become the field of archaeomythology - breaking the archaelogical taboo of reconstructing ancient culture, and expanding the boundaries of archaeology. The work is controversial and at times over-reaches itself in drawing far-reaching conclusions from existing archaeological evidence. However, this doesn't make the work any less important.
Gimbutas was a pioneer in her field, and challenged the traditional concepts we have of the origins of Western civilization. While her assertions may seem fantastical and absurd to some, they are worth exploring. Scholars in the field of anthropology have already begun to realize that women played a far larger role as hunters in early societies, and Gimbutas's work paved the way for scholars to allow the thought of an expanded role from what we perceive as traditional female gender roles.
Whether you agree with her work or not, this book and others by Gimbutas are worth reading. Her theories are thought-provoking and ground-breaking, and based on years of careful research by a reknowned and respected scholar. As a scholar, I find that my opinions lie somewhere between Gimbutas and traditional ideas of the development of Western civilization - but as a scholar I also find her work incredibly important and worth reading.
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47 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Jeri L. Studebaker, author of *Breaking the Mother Goose Code* and *Switching to Goddess* on April 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's fascinating how panicked some get when they "read" Marija Gimbutas. Here's just one example -- from another reviewer of this book:

"...It is *nonsense*, pure and simple ... Gimbutas is trapped in the *foolish* ideology of the "great goddess", a *pathetic* ... reflex of contemporary political obsession.... leave it to Wiccans and other *ignorami*."

Gimbutas' major theory is monumentally simple: During the early and middle Neolithic, most of southeastern Europe followed religions centering around female rather than male deity. [I can hear some of you hyperventilating already; just take a deep breath and fan yourselves.]

In this and other of her books, Gimbutas serves up tons of evidence to back her theory. Rarely have I seen books so packed with concrete, clearly-presented evidence -- not only archaeological, but linguistic and mythological as well.

This, folks, is what science is all about. After you offer a theory and evidence to support it, others have three options: 1, offer evidence to support the theory; 2, offer evidence to support a counter theory; 3, offer nothing.

Oddly enough, sweet little Gimbutas so terrifies otherwise sane individuals that they take one look at her and opt for a fourth response: going blithering off into the sunset, arms akimbo, frothing at the mouth and mumbling things like "Nonsense!" "Ignorami!" and "Political obsession!" (God forbid, the Martians are coming!).

It does give one pause.

Jeri Studebaker, author of Switching to Goddess: Humanity's Ticket to the Future
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JST on August 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a layperson interested in mythology and archealogy, I did find this work to be very interesting, though over-scholarly for my taste. What was I expecting? A third-grade reader? Silly me. I choose to read it since it offers an alternate perspective to male-centric views. On that note, I wasn't disappointed.

It took awhile to build the backdrop for her evidence and interpretation, but I found it was helpful to do so. Any arguement that the "art" was less than perfect or was actually pathetic ignores the nature of prehistoric art - and Ms Gimbutas does address and explain why she choose the specific illustrations; mainly, to illustrate her points and to provide a visual for her narrative. Never did she claim it to be a book on art, and it should not be read as one nor critique as if it were one. Still, the illustrations were very helpful for this non-scholar.

Her assertation that original religion was goddess based I am not qualified to critque, but still, her evidence, speculations, and interpretations do give one pause for thought, especially when one realizes and accepts that history has been perceived and presented from a male point of view. I tend to think, if not Goddess based, then perhaps prehistoric societies and religions were a lot more equalitarian than was origianlly supposed.

Perhaps we have a lot to learn from our ancestors.

The two negative reviews that I read did the typical name-calling attack as a defense without offering constructive counter-arguements.

I trust the review by the scholar to be spot-on for those with academic interest or with a scholarly bend.

As for me, I will look for the middle school reader on this subject while still giving this work praise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bettina Hutschek on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
You will love this book if you have a background in archeology or ancient history. But also without: I have neither, and it is still incredibly interesting to read, never dry, with a lot of illustrations. Gimbutas writing is great. she dares to state things she believes in and follows her vision and her observations, but never becomes preaching or goes overboard. scientific and entertaining at the same time, such a rare combination.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provided the seminal background information for "The Chalice and the Blade" by Riane Eisler. Essential information for those interested in ancient goddess religions in Europe and the Mediterranean and the the Near East.
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