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The Language of the Goddess Paperback – May, 1995


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Paperback, May, 1995
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper San Francisco (May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062512439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062512437
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,904,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

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.
- Winnie Lambrecht, Brown Univ., Providence, R.I.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A powerful magnum opus...visually rich and intellectually intriguing." -- -- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"An indispensable reference work with a profoundly provocative text." -- -- Toronto Star

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

"The first authoritative work on the ancient goddess culture." -- -- Boston Globe Magazine

"[This] beatifully illustrated book will keep archaeology, religion, and classics departments the world over in a tizzy." -- -- Rita Mae Brown, Los Angeles Times

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Customer Reviews

It is not easy to read, nor are easy things worth much.
Jack Blasingame
We decide things through violence and arrogance with a complete disregard for nature as well as our fellow human beings.
harry schultze
I found Gimbutas' theories on the origin of writing very believable.
Nicole M. Masika

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Henriquez Lyon VINE VOICE on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Language of the Goddess" is a must-have for anyone interested in symbolism and imagery, as it presents some of the oldest decorative markings ever scratched into stone, bone, and wood. Most of the images, reproduced in line drawings and black-and-white photos, are taken from Neolithic European village sites dating back as far as 7,000 B.C. Thus they are, for the most part, a product of agricultural cultures. However, there is a striking similarity between some of these marks and those found on relics from Paleolithic hunter-gatherer sites, examples of which appear in this book.

The link between the images from Neolithic and Paleolithic sites arises at least in part from those cultures' shared worship of the Goddess. In the text accompanying the images, Gimbutas tries to reconstruct the world-view of the European Goddess-centered people. She works by inference, looking at various found objects and their markings--not just in their historical context but also in relation to each other.

For instance, in her chapter entitled "Net Motif," she writes, "Signs associated with the framed net -- parallel lines, zig-zags, tri-lines, M's, and chevrons -- place it within the aquatic symbol family. . .the framed net also appears with symbols of becoming: egg, vulva, uterus, fish bladder forms, and plant leaves. This implies that the net is linked with aqua-cosmogony, the life source, and the birth of human, animal, and plant life. . .in other words, it must have been a symbol of the "water of life" well known to us from myths. The net design. . .probably emphasizes the life-giving power of the Goddess."

It is interesting that we still speak of "the web of life," and the "interconnectedness of all beings.
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64 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Jack Blasingame on April 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Marija Gimbutas and Joseph Campbell are internationally recognized authorities on myth, symbol, and - in her case -archeology. It concerns me that an anonymous reviewer chooses to bash this book without indicating some authority for doing so. I suspect the lack of this authority may account for the anonymity.
Regardless of one's political stance or one's bias regarding gender, this is a high-quality, highly educational book.
It is not easy to read, nor are easy things worth much.
It may offend some persons whose perspectives it challenges - so does, has, and will the Bible, which most of the folks who object to this book are fond of.
Gimbutas and Campbell both color outside the lines of what I tend to identify as the Matrix. It is my deepest desire that they continue.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nicole M. Masika on March 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
It's been a few years since I read this, but I remember that it sparked a small burst of artistic activity for me. We can argue whether everything in it is factually true, as one reviewer said, we may never really _know_, but Gimbutas' interpretation certainly deserves consideration. It offers a counter-balance to the traditional patriarchal view of prehistory which is just as likely to be biased and wrong. I found Gimbutas' theories on the origin of writing very believable.
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a truly wonderful book by a now deceased author. Marija Gimbutas was a fine scholar (chair of European Archeology at UCLA), and if she were alive today, would gladly take part in the storm of response that her ideas on prehistoric religion have inspired. All such scholarly theories require work and refinement, and the ideas presented in this book are no exception. There is, however, no other single text on the subject of early human religion that I think is more important. Read it, love it, and give it to all your friends.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jjbrandon@aol.com on July 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
Although difficult to get through some sections, I found the pictures and graphics wonderful and the undeniable female influence on our earliest history came through without any sexist or biased undertones. Men as well as women would benefit from reading this book, if not from cover to cover at least the high points and the last two chapters. And any mother of a young woman should consider this book for a special gift to her.
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54 of 69 people found the following review helpful By MARKWOOD HULL on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Gimbutas has unsheathed from history's husk, the weed-seed of modern thorns. She lays bare the dark battle obsessed mind-set that bruised and nearly rooted out 'the adoration of life principle' that drove the path of Europe's ancestors, and eventually entangled it with vengeance. The briars were invasive Indo-European peoples, who razed the united civilization of prehistoric Europe to near oblivion. They were a war-hungry, unrefined, pirating people from the Russian steppes. These people stole metallury technologies from Europe and twisted them from plough-share to sword, literally. Gimbutas is not the first, but the most studious, in piecing together the signature significances within uncovered archeological artifacts that assert such evidence. Many earlier archeologists had already captured the story within old stone, and explained it as Gimbutas does, prior to her revelations-'Man in Prehistory', Prof. Chard, Univ. of Wisc. 1969, and a score of others similarly acclaimed. New dendrochronology and improved carbon-dating techniques using centuries old rare pines have now proven her time-lines; disproving the sequential-inventions concept of her opponents. What truly makes this book incredible, although,is not the historical revision(others pay more to this); it is the incredible vision she gleans of their world-view through symbol-relations she has belaboured over. this book is tribute to Europe's 3500-year fruition of peaceful prosperity, derived from seed of another world-view ( and early humanity's earliest religion concept, the 70,000 years of a God who gives Birth and nurtures!
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