Were women central to the ancient world in Europe?

WNN – Radio on Air

Neolithic era Malta Venus figurine.
This neolithic figurine of a woman discovered in Malta in 1839 pre-dates the time of the pyramids in Egypt. Image: National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta

In this interesting radio show on WINGS, host Marija Gimbutas combines archaeology, linguistics and folklore studies to describe the Neolithic cultures of Old Europe as stable, peaceful, sustainable, and female-centered. Joan Marler, a Gimbutas scholar, reviews the material artifacts at the 2nd World Congress of Matriarchal Studies.

A study of ancient history allows us to understand that female gender identity and culture was a strong and vital part of ancient society. Even though artifacts and information shows the history of the matriarchal and feminine in ancient cultures, global scholars who draw such conclusions have often faced exclusion and ridicule in today’s modern academic world.

Featured Speakers/Guests for this show: Joan Marler, founder of the Institute of Archaeomythology; introduced by Heide Göttner-Abendroth, founder of the Academie HAGIA, an institution for Modern Matriarchal Studies talks about the ancient ties to sculptural and petrological images that are clearly female during epochs in time ancient Europe that pre-date the days of the Egyptians.


WINGS – Women’s News Gathering Service

Host/Producer: Heide Göttner-Abendroth, founder of the Academie HAGIA, an institution for Modern Matriarchal Studies

Featured guest: Founder of the Institute of Archaeomythology – Joan Marler

Series Producer: Frieda Werden / WINGS

Date: June 20, 2011

Length: 28:48

BACKGROUND: Gender archaeology is a method of studying past societies through their material culture by closely examining the social construction of gender identities and relations. Gender archaeology itself is based on the ideas that even though nearly all individuals are naturally born to a biological sex (usually either male or female, although also intersex), there is nothing natural about gender, which is actually a social construct which varies between cultures and changes through time.

Gender archaeologists examine the relative positions in society of men, women, and children through identifying and studying the differences in power and authority they held, as they are manifested in material (and skeletal) remains. These differences can survive in the physical record although they are not always immediately apparent and are often open to interpretation. The relationship between the genders can also inform relationships between other social groups such as families, different classes, ages and religions.

The archaeologist Bruce G. Trigger noted that gender archaeology differed from other variants of the discipline that developed around the same time, such as working-class archaeology, indigenous archaeology and community archaeology, in that “instead of simply representing an alternate focus of research, it has established itself as a necessary and integral part of all other archaeologies.”


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