The Female Divine

THE GREAT GODDESS

Was There a Great Goddess

During the last century and a half, numerous and seemingly related prehistoric ar- tifacts depicting female figures have been found in a wide range from France to Siberia and as far south as Greece. Among these ancient objects are engravings, statuettes, and relief carvings, dating anywhere from 30,000 to 5,000 bce, some of which are adorned with designs such as crescents, spirals, triangles, meanders, egg shapes, and lozenges. Among the statuettes, a significant number are abstract rep- resentations of the female form, featuring exaggerated buttocks, breasts, vulvas, and bellies. The heads, legs, and arms of these statuettes tend to taper off into stumps and knobs without characteristic details such as fingers, toes, or even mouths and eyes. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, archaeologists and other prehistori- ans understood these images to be fertility objects or pornographic toys. But over the last 30 years, a growing number of archaeologists and anthropologists and other scholars, including historians, theologians, literary critics, and social theorists, have seen in these artifacts proof that human societies worshiped an all-powerful Great Goddess from whom the many goddesses of the historical period are descended. Led by Marija Gimbutas, whose The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1982) connected the discourses of archaeology and the women’s movement, a diverse group of Great Goddess proponents began to argue that early European cultures were, if not matriarchal (woman-dominated), matrifocal (woman-centered), and therefore they enjoyed greater gender equality, freedom from violence, and har- mony with nature than currently experienced under the world’s patriarchal (male- dominated) system……………………………….

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