Sunday, November 06, 2005

The "Myth" of Matriarchal Prehistory

A few days ago, Anonymous left this comment:

"If you want, look up the book 'The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future' on Amazon[.com]... All of the praising reviews are just so depressing."
To which I reply, "Yes, anon, I've seen reviews of this book. Men terrified of the power of women adore it, and so sing its praises. In my opinion, however, it's a matter of "Methinks the men do protest too much." It's part of an anti-feminist backlash.

The fact is, evidence is exceedingly strong for a time in which women were mighty, and peace and plenty reigned.

Here's the problem: the past is murky -- especially the past that existed before written (decipherable) records, which is when the Goddess reigned. Very little can be "proven" beyond a shadow of a doubt for these time periods. All you can go on are percentages. For example, if 95% of the figurines you find at an archaeological site are female, and if a high percentage of these figurines are acceptably "sacred" in appearance, and if women have more artifacts in their graves than men do, and if the artifacts in women's graves took longer to make than the ones in men's graves, then you are justified in saying "Women probably had higher status in this group than men did," and "Female divinity was probably valued over male divinity."

This is what the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas did with ancient Goddess sites. Her detractors complain that she saw a Goddess in every artifact and drawing she excavated. What they fail to mention (probably because they failed to read her complex books entirely) is that Gimbutas based her theories not only on art, but also on additional evidence: grave goods, for example. Archaeologists agree that higher quality grave goods indicate a higher status for the buried individual. In "Old Europe" Goddess sites, Gimbutas often found a higher quality of grave goods in women’s graves than in men’s graves (Old Europe today is southeastern Europe.)

Here's another thing that most people don't seem to "get" about Gimbutas: she discovered that the old Bronze-Age Goddess archaeology sites were mis-dated. These old Goddess sites were so technologically advanced, and so civilized, that archaeologists typically considered them far younger than they actually were. Gimbutas, however, came along and dated them with a new dating technique -- carbon 14. What she discovered was that the sites with all the female figurines, the spiritual female figurines, and the rich women's graves, were actually FAR OLDER than they appeared.

Why? Because the advanced Goddess societies were followed by a dark age in which male-dominated and male-god-dominated peoples took over. At this time, the level of technology, culture, art, and civility plummeted. This was the beginning of Patriarchy, an illness that still muffles us today, and may, if we fail to eradicate it, eradicate us.


Morgaine said...

Excellent post, Sister! I loathe that book - that woman sold out her gender to gain acceptance and sell books. If I ever meet her, I'm going to tell her to turn in her ovaries - she isn't one of us anymore.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing this, Athana!
I found a link you will actually enjoy, too..

ursa said...

Good post Athana, the thing that puzzles me is matriarchy is is attested to by Herodotus, Pliny, Strabo and others all sexist in their attitude, Herodotus even grumbles about how much power the women of Egypt have , whilst admiring the advancement of the Country. he didn't make the connection, but he would hardly invent full blooded matriarchies if they didn't exist. Any way I am not buying the book to find out what they say .