A joint project 
by author/activist Starhawk 
and filmmaker Donna Read


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About Marija Gimbutas and the film project

What allows a person to see what nobody else can see? What forces in 
a life create a woman who can speak her truth with passion and hold 
her own against ridicule and criticism? 

When Marija Gimbutas died in 1994 she was already considered by many 
to be one of the most influential and controversial archaeologists of this 
century. At a time when most scholars of ancient history confined 
themselves to recording and describing data, she dared to look for 
meaning. Her interpretations engage fundamental issues: Is war 
inevitable? Have men always dominated women? What are the true roots 
of Western culture?"
I do not believe, as many archaeologists of this 
generation seem to, that we shall never know the meaning of 
prehistoric art and religion."
-- Marija Gimbutas
Marija followed the trail set in the early 19th century by female 
archaeologists like Jane Ellen Harrisson and historian Matilda 
Joslyn Gage -- women who dared to challenge the findings and 
criteria favored by the "establishment" of their times. Like 
Galileo and other "heretics," Marija Gimbutas has also shaken 
the foundations of her society.
"Agricultural people's beliefs concerning sterility and fertility, the 
fragility of life and the constant threat of destruction, and the 
periodic need to renew the generative processes of nature are 
among the most enduring. They live on in the present... The 
Goddess-centered religion existed for a very long time... leaving 
an indelible imprint on the Western psyche." 
--Marija Gimbutas
Gimbutas' findings reveal an ancient widespread culture which flourished 
throughout Europe between 6500 and 3500 BCE, in the era historians call 
the Neolithic. This civilization was radically different from images of kings, 
warriors, and conquering gods that previously dominated our view of the 
past. "This was a long-lasting period of remarkable creativity and stability, 
an age free of strife. Their culture was a culture of art."
-- Marija Gimbutas
Her excavations and interpretations show, at the dawn of civilization, a 
society stretching across Europe from the Danube to the North Sea in 
which women had high status and power along with men. Egalitarian 
and peaceful, "Old Europe" existed for thousands of years without war. 
Hundreds of female figurines were found. Paintings, sculptures of 
birth-giving goddesses, pottery figures of bird headed deities and 
sacred serpents all honored the regenerative powers of nature.
"The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity 
of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb 
and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees, and 
flowers." 
-- Marija Gimbutas
Born in Lithuania, Gimbutas grew up steeped in that country's rich folk 
tradition of stories, songs and mythology. Her education, pursued in 
Lithuania and as a refugee in war-torn Europe, included a broad 
range of languages, linguistics and archaeology. In the United States, 
she originally concentrated on the Bronze Age of Eastern Europe and 
was widely acknowledged as an expert in this area. When she turned 
to the Neolothic era, Gimbutas brought unique interdisciplinary skills 
to her reconstruction of culture and religion. Not content to simply 
catalog data, she insisted that archaeology must tackle 
questions of meaning and interpretation.
"Archaeological materials are not mute. They speak their own 
language. And they need to be used for the great source they 
are to help unravel the spirituality of those of our ancestors who 
predate the Indo-Europeans by many thousands of years." 
-- Marija Gimbutas
Conventional scholars claimed that archaeology could only describe 
the material record of a culture. To theorize about religion was 
considered speculative, not scientific. Gimbutas not only dared to 
interpret, she maintained that to understand a culture as steeped 
in the sacred as Neolithic Europe, scientists must consider religion. 
By looking at thousands of artifacts, analyzing groups of symbols 
that reoccur frequently, and bringing in her extensive knowledge 
of mythology and linguistics, she discovered a rich symbolic l
anguage centered around the figure of the Goddess.
"The main theme of Goddess symbolism is the mystery of 
birth and death and the renewal of life, not only human but 
all life on earth and indeed in the whole cosmos." 
-- Marija Gimbutas
Gimbutas' descriptions of the life affirming culture of Old Europe 
have sparked enormous controversy. Her theories have been widely 
acclaimed by feminists, by women and men in the growing 
earth-based spirituality movement, by artists, dancers, novelists, 
and by many historians and archaeologists. But they have also 
been attacked by other scholars, her methods criticized, and her 
interpretations denied. The debate is of far more than mere 
historical interest, for Gimbutas' work cuts to the heart of basic 
questions about human nature and possibilities. Are human 
beings innately aggressive and dominating, doomed to live in 
violence and destroy each other and the earth? Or are we 
capable of creating cultures based on co-operation and peace?
"Through an understanding of what the Goddess was, 
we can better understand nature and we can build our 
ideologies so it will be easier for us to live." 
-- Marija Gimbutas
If her theories are correct, then peace, reverence for the earth and the 
honoring of life are not only human capabilities, they are the very 
underpinnings of European civilization itself.


















            

Included in the film is footage 
of an excellent, in-depth inter-
view with Marija, thanks to the 
foresight of Riane Eisler, author 
of The Chalice and the Blade, who 
arranged and conducted the 
interview, and to the generosity 
of filmmaker Vivien Hillgrove.

Read about the team who made 
the film.

Thanks to the many scholars who 
appear in Signs Out Of Time.

Posted to this website are 
letters of support from members 
of our Friends of Marija 
Foundation, including Vicki Noble, 
author of The Motherpeace Tarot; 
actress Olympia Dukakis; Miriam 
Robbins Dexter, Ph.D.; Theodore 
Roszak, Professor of History, 
California State University, Hayward; 
and Vivienne Verdon-Roe, Winner 
of an Academy Award for "Women 
For America, For the World." 

Olympia DukakisActress 
Olympia 
Dukakis, a 
long-time 
friend of 
Marija, is 
the film's 
narrator. 

For more 
information 
about Marija 
Gimbutas 
and her 
legacy, 
visit our 
other Marija pages. 
            

As the millennium is upon us, we are 
finding ourselves living in a period of 
tumultuous change on all fronts of life. 
Our institutions are crumbling, our 
environment is being assaulted on an 
order of magnitude that staggers the 
imagination. We now wield weapons 
that can destroy life on earth. 

The questions raised by Gimbutas' life 
and work have never been more timely. 

No longer, Gimbutas tells us, can we 
excuse war and destruction as inherent 
aspects of human progress. We need 
not quietly accept our doom. For if we 
have lived in peace before, then we 
can live peaceably again. We can face 
the future with new hope, and new faith 
in our human capacity to live in harmony 
with nature.
"Through an understanding of 
what the Goddess was, we can 
better understand nature and 
we can build our ideologies 
so it will be easier for us to live." 
-- Marija Gimbutas





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