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The Language of the Goddess Paperback – May, 1995
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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.
"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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Top Customer Reviews
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." The web is an ancient image, and just one of many in the book that readers can recognize as still resonating for us now. Some other images which Gimbutas presents are Meander and Water Birds, Streams, Tri-Line and Power of Three, and Deer and Bear as Primeval Mothers.
This book is wonderful for textile artists, potters, painters, or poets - indeed for anyone interested in drawing inspiration from the furthest reaches of human history. These are powerful symbols for study, which come alive when given careful attention.