Cavalli-Sforza, Marija Gimbutas and Martin Bernal on the Indo-European invasions and the earlier Goddess cultures

- Peter Myers, November 23, 2001; update February 11, 2018. My comments are shown {thus}.

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(1) Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples, and Languages
(2) Colin Renfrew, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins
(3) Marija Gimbutas, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe 3500 - 3500 BC (4) Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess
(5) Cyrus H. Gordon on the Aryan Invasions
(6) Martin Bernal on the Aryan Invasions, in Black Athena
(7) A.L. Basham on the Aryan Invasions, in The Wonder That Was India

Archaeology has been incredibly politicised over the years. Colin Renfrew writes that, after Hitler's use of the Aryan theme, "Childe subsequently avoided all mention of his book The Aryans, although in fact it offered no evidence in favour of the delusion of racial superiority and was very careful to distinguish between language and culture and supposed racial classifications" (Archaeology and Language, p. 4).

This "avoiding all mention" amounts to swinging from one extreme to another. It's got to the point now, where some Western scholars deny the Aryan invasion of India.

The horse-drawn light war chariot appears to have been invented by Aryans in Central Asia, and to have spread both West & East from there. The war chariot was the tank of the day, and allowed blitzkrieg invasions. Those invaded had to acquire the technology, one way or the other.

Old Kingdom Egypt had no chariots. The Hyksos had war chariots, which would have helped them to defeat Egypt. Later pharoahs had them, and the Jewish god Yahweh is depicted, in the Bible, sitting on a Merkabah (Merkavah), which means "throne-chariot".

The chariot reached China from Central Asia. Silk road archeological findings substantiate cultural exchange between East & West.

Another item that seems to have been invented once only, is the potter's wheel. It spread slowly across the Eurasian landmass.

I'm sure that even religions and philosophies have been spread along such routes (in both directions) from the early stages of Civilisation. There's a similarity, for example, between the Presocratic philosophies of Greece, and Taoism. Taoism has Opposities engaging dialectically, as in Heraclitus; yet an underlying One, as in Parmenides.

Cavalli-Sforza is a Geneticist; Renfrew & Gimbutas were rival Archaeologists, Renfrew taking the "Patriarchal" side and Gimbutas the Feminist.

Spencer Wells is a Geneticist, a colleague of Cavalli-Sforza and Director of the Genographic Project. In his book The Journey of Man, he shows that Europe's ancestry derives mainly from people in that continent around 30,000 years ago; not from early agriculturalists in the Middle East (Renfrew's position). But there was an invasion of Aryans from the steppes, which imposed the Indo-European languages on Europe and northern India. Before that, Basque might have been more typical of European languages.

He discovered a genetic marker, M17, which is the signature of the Aryan invaders from the steppe into east & central Europe and northern India: wells-genetics.html.

(1) Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples, and Languages, tr. Mark Seielstad, Penguin NY 2000.

{p. 101} Archeologists working between the two world wars were trained to interpret every cultural event - from stylistic ehanges in axes and pottery to changes in burial praetices during the copper and iron ages in central Europe - in terms of grand migrations and conquests. After the last world war, this approach was attacked, particularly by the English school of archeology. Researchers began to theorize that innovations could spread in densely populated regions as the result of well-developed commercial networks. This critique was important, but it eventually was carried to a dogmatic extreme. Before World War II, all cultural change was thought to result from massive migrations; afterward,

{p. 102} migratory explanations were considered unacceptable. Only merchants traveled, carrying objects later recovered in diggings.

Archeology has shown that the spread of agriculture was very slow and was accompanied by a considerable increase in population density. By contrast, all purely cultural diffusions were very quick and rarely had demographic consequences. Ammerman and I asked, as critically as possible, whether the spread of agriculture in Europe was a cultural or demic process, that is, did farming or farmers spread? Its slow pace across the continent suggested a demic process ...

We were aided by a genetic theory developed by R. A. Fisher ... Fisher's theory shows that a growing population spreads at an easily calculable rate that depends on two demographic variables: the population's growth rate and the migration rates. The archeological record showed that agriculture spread approximately one kilometer per year. It was a bit more rapid when people used boats or traveled along rivers or coastlines, and slower near physical barriers or areas of ecological change. ...

{p. 103} We concluded that demographic data of population growth and migration are indeed compatible with the theory of demic diffusion of Neolithic cultivators.

But this hypothesis was not immediately welcomed by Anglo-American archeologists. Only recently has the situation begun to change. Colin Renfrew, Professor of Archeology at the University of Cambridge in England, enthusiastically endorsed the theory ...

{p. 109} To our great astonishment, we saw that the first principal component {of the European gene map} ... perfectly matched the map plotting the arrival dates of cereals in Europe according to radiocarbon estimates (figure 5).

{p. 110} {text at figure 6} there was an expansion of farmers from the Middle East into Europe, who, in the course of expansion, mixed with local hunter-gatherers, who had different gene frequencies. {end of text at figure 6}

{p. 117} The third principal component is extremely interesting. ...

{p. 118} It shows an expansion originating in all area north of the Caucasus and the Black and Caspian Seas, which the archeologist Marjia {it should be Marija} Gimbutas had already proposed as the homeland of Indo-European speakers.

We shall discuss the evolution of languages in the next chapter. Suffice it to say here that much discussion has centered on the geographic origins of the Indo-European languages, with suggestions spanning from central Europe to Central Asia. Marjia Gimbutas has suggested that the Indo-European languages spread from a region north of the Caueasus and south of the Urals, where numerous tombs called kurgan have been found. These tombs were filled with sculptures, precious metals, bronze weapons, and the skeletons of both warriors and horses. Ecologically, the area belongs to the Eurasiatic steppe, which extends almost without interruption from Romania to Manchuria. Horses were common in the area, and the archeologist David Anthony has recently shown that they were probably domesticated in the vicinity of this Kurgan culture, where chariots and bronze weapons were made more than 5,000 years ago. Without written documents, it is very difficult for archaeologists to say what language was spoken in this region at the time.

Another archeologist, Colin Renfrew, has offered a different hypothesis: he believes Indo-European languages originated from Anatolia in modern day Turkey. The first farmers of this area would have spoken a proto-Indo-European language, and would have spread it across Europe. Renfrew based his hypothesis on the belief that agriculture was spread by farmers, not culturally, and farmers would have had to bring their own language with them. This hypothesis has received less philologic support than Gimbutas's. But as we shall see later, the two theories are not completely contradictory.

The people of the Kurgan culture were pastoral nomads who domesticated horses in the steppes where agriculture was not very productive. The horse provided milk, meat, transport, and as the Kurgan people would discover later, military power. But these nomads might originally have descended from agriculturalists of the Middle East or Anatolia, who probably arrived on the steppes

{p. 119} through Macedonia and Romania, and may have spoken a pre-proto-Indo-European spoken in Anatolia at the beginning of agricultural development, around 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Thus the language(s) common to Anatolia 9,000 to 10,000 years ago were earlier forms of Indo-European that spread locally to the Balkans and to the steppe. The languages that developed from this early Indo-European in the Kurgan region were later spread by pastoral nomads to most of Europe, beginning 3,000 to 4,000 years later.

... the fourth and fifth components are still statistically reliable in Europe and can be simplly explained. The fourth (figure 9) shows an expansion from Greece toward southern Italy, called in Latin Magna Graecia (Greater Greece) because southern Italy became more important and populated than Greece itself. Greek expansion also included Macedonia and western Turkey.

{p. 120} The fifth principal component (figure 10) shows a pole in the easily identified Basque homeland. This component repeats on a smaller scale the lower expansion in the second PC. Today, the Basque language and culture survive in southwestern France and northern Spain, in the western Pyrenees. Historical information from Roman times, place names (toponymy), and genetics all confirm that the Basques once inhabited a much larger territory than today. The area in which Basque is still spoken has sharply contracted, especially in France where, under pressure favoring the French language, Basque is spoken by only about 12,000 people.

It's spoken by many more people in Spain. During the last Paleolithic period the Basque region extended over almost the entire area where ancient cave paintings have been found. There are some cues that Basque descends from a language spoken 35,000 to 40,000 years ago, during the first occupation of France by modern humans, who most probably came from the southwest, but possibly from the east as well. The artists of these caves would have spoken a language of the first, preagricultural Europeans, from which modern Basque is derived.

Population Expansions Outside of Europe

We have seen that agriculture spread in many directions from the Middle East toward other independent centers of agricultural origin. The eastern expansion toward Iran and India is clearly visible in the genetic maps of Asia. The same wave of expansion also headed toward Arabia and North Africa. However, as in many of the regions that would later become deserts, few of the original populations have survived. The replacement of Neolithic populations with more modern ones occurred most extensively in what is now the Sahara Desert. We find significant areas of admixture between Whites (Caucasoids) and Blacks in Africa: throughout most of the Sahara where Whites have crossed both the Suez and the Mediterranean, and in East Africa as a result of late Arab contact, which is well documented historically. Ancient cave paintings in the Sahara make it clear that the earliest Saharan populations were Black - although possibly mixed with Caucasoids - up to about 5,000 years ago.

{p. 124} In China, we find independent but nearly simultaneous agricultural developments in the north, east and south. ... Genetically, northern Chinese resemble Manchurians, Koreans, and Japanese. Southern Chinese are more like Southeast Asians. China has been unified for more than 2,000 years, and while there has been internal movement, it has remained genetically and culturally divided. ...

{p. 125} During the last several thousand years, the most sigllificant expansions have started in Cental Asia, thanks to technological developments in pastoral economies. Agriculture did not do well on the Asian steppes, but domestication of the horse afforded Eurasian pastoralists unprecedented advantages in migrations and military conquests. Many waves of migration started from the Kurgan region and had a profound impact on European and Asian history. The first expansion toward southern Asia probably occurred between 3000 and 2000 B.C., heading for Iran, Pakistan and India via Turkmenistan. This passage appears to have contributed to the disappearance arouud 1500 B.C. of the Indus Valley civilization, which had produced the magnificent cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. At the same time as these nomadic expansions, there were dynasties related to the Indo-Europeans throughout the steppes as far as the Altai Mountains.

Around the third century B.C., groups speaking Turkish languages of the Altaic family, like the Huns, began developing new weapons and strategies. In the next centuries they threatened empires in China, Tibet, India, and Central Asia, before eventually arriving in Turkey. In 1453 Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell before their armies. The conquests of their descendants continued into recent times, with expansions to Europe and North Africa. Genetic traces of their movements can sometimes be found, but they are often diluted, since the numbers of conquerors were always much smaller than the populations they conquered. In Turkey and the Balkans, the furthest point permanently settled by these Mongolian nomads, no clear genetic trace of their origin has been found, but genetic investigations are limited. Further expansions of these Eurasian nomads recorded by history are those of the Avars, Scythians, and all of the barbarians who put an end to the Roman Empire. Most of the earlier conquests are poorly known. Genetic analysis indicates a major expansion began from near the Sea of Japan - possibly even Japan itself - but it is difficult to date. It may have heen very early. According to our archeological knowledge, it could have occurred 11,000 or 12,000 years ago, coinciding with or even preceding the date of ceramic development.

{p. 128} Extension of the name Aryan to include Indo-Europeans and in particular Germans, supposed to be the original Indo-Europeans, is a fantasy that began in Germany and was especially dear to Nazi theorists. In Sanskrit, the old language of Indo-Iranians, aryas means noble, lord, ruler.

{This statement seems a precaution lest Nazism rise again. But the word "Aryan" is today preserved in the names of the countries "Iran" and "Ireland", i.e. "Eire" = "Aryan", showing the extent of the Aryan conquest. Gimbutas, below, shows the reality of Aryan "nobility"}

{p. 159} The Indo-European Family

... Not long ago, one of the most popular theories was proposed by the archeologist Marjia Gimbutas, who postulated an origin above the Black Sea and associated the earliest speakers of Indo-European with the Kurgan culture of the Asian steppes. But when Gimbutas published her hypothesis, the Kurgan lates were poorly known. She assumed 3,000 to 3,500 years B.C., a date which was rejected as too old by English archeologists. Gimbutas's dates appear to have been vindicated by new excavations, which have also shown that horses were probably domesticated and mounted at that time and that war chariots were built in this area.

In 1987, Colin Renfrew proposed that Indo-European languages were conducted north by the Neolithic farmers of the Middle East. In chapter 4, I mentioned his influential book, which corroborated our hypothesis that Neolithic agriculture spread by a demic and not a purely cultural process. It is tempting to champion the correspondence between the spread of Indo-European languages and the diffusion of agriculture, which geography brings clearly to light. However, in my discussions with Albert Ammerman, my archeological collabolator in the initial research on the spread of farming and farmers, we avoided linguistic correlations because archeology cannot tell us about them in the absence of a written record. Nevertheless, on the basis of theoretical anthropological considerations, archeologist Renfrew came courageously to the conclusion that Indo-European was spread by Middle Eastern farmers.

I learned about Renfrew's hypothesis before he published it, on the occasion of a visit to Cambridge. Further connection between the spread of agriculture and language came to mind when I learned from linguistic literature that the language written in a cuneiform script around 5,000 years ago in the region of Elam (southwestern Iran) was Dravidian {the language of the Harappa civilization, related to Tamil as still spoken in South India}. Both Renfrew and I independently suggested

{p. 160} that Dravidian may have originated in the Middle East and been spread by mideastern farmers east toward Pakistan and India. But in the last section of this book I tried to shift the origin of Dravidian away from the Fertile Crescent further east, either to the south Caspian, eastern Iran, or northern India. It seems very reasonable to assume that agricult-lral developments helped spread the languages spoken by the first farmers. This must have happened repeatedly, and we will see other examples. But agriculture developed no earlier than 10,000 years ago, and therefore the relevant linguistic families are late ones. If Greenberg is right in stating that Dravidian as well as Afroasiatic is older than Eurasiatic, then the center of origin of Dravidian is not necessarily connected with the Middle East, and may be further to the east.

Another interesting question related to the difficult problem of centers of origin of linguistic families arises with Renfrew's hypothesis that the Indo-European languages originatted in Turkey, and then spread into Europe with Neolithic peasants. Obviously, all immigrants bring their language with them, and have no reason to learn a new one if they fail to encounter anyone in their new territory. It is worth pointing out that the inhabitants of Europe before the agricultural expansion (often called Mesolithics) usually had a very low population density. Since they were hunter gatherers, they may have preferred living in areas that were geologically different from agriculturally suitable Llnd. These earlier inhabitants and the new settlers, the Neolithic farmers, did not therefore have much contact, especially at the beginning of the agricultural expansion, when the density of farmers was lower than at later stages.

Renfrew's hypothesis, if correct, provides a date for the dissemination of Indo-European languages equivalent to that of the initial spread of farming, around 9,500 to 10,000 years ago. This date may seem to be problematic, since old linguistic estimates (although very approximate) suggested an earlier date (6,000 years ago). Moreover, this latter date would fit more comfortalbly Gimbutas' hypothesis of a Kurgan origin 5,000 to 5,500 years ago (kurgans are tombs in the form of mounds, which have been quarries of art objects in Southern Russia). As we see, however, there is no

{p. 161} necessary contradiction between Gimbutas and Renfrew. On the contrary, Alberto Piazza and I believe that their proposals reinforce each other. If we accept this idea, it may be useful to refer to the original Indo-European spoken in Turkey 10,000 years ago as the primary Indo-European, pre-proto-Indo-European, and to that spoken 4,000 to 5,000 years later in the Kurgan region as secondary or proto-Indo-European.

It is clear that, genetically speaking, peoples of the Kurgan steppe descended at least in part from people of the Middle Eastern Neolithic who immigrated there from Turkey. To arrive north of the Black Sea farmers from Turkey may have expanded west of the Black Sea, through Romania, and/or along the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Shortly after their arrival, these Neolithic farmers domesticated the horse, which was not as abundant elsewhere, and developed a predominantly pastoral economy. This allowed them to survive and even prosper in an environment ill suited to an exclusively agrarian life. This adaptation took time, but with the first development of bronze (around 5,000 years ago), they were on the brink of an expansion. They had food, a means of transport, and powerful new weapons. Actually, the Kurgan region extended fairly widely, and generated many expansions after this first one, over the next 3,000 or 4,000 years. The very first area of origin may have been between the rivers Volga and Don, but there were many expansions, both eastward to Central Asia and westward toward Europe. Kurgans are found over much of the steppe in both western and eastern directions.

The eastward expansion may have been first. It led east and south through Central Asia toward Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, generating the "Indo-Iranian branch" of Indo-European. These languages later completely replaced almost all the Dravidian languages previously spoken from Iran to Pakistan and in northern India, but not those in southern India. Most inhabitants of India are Caucasoid, even if their skin is darker than that of northern Europeans. Populations in the south that speak Dravidian languages are genetically slightly different from, and darker than, northern Indians. At least three different ethnic layers are superimposed on this part of the

{p. 162} world. The oldest and the most limited (the pre-Dravidians, or Australoid) ... are said to resemble Australian Aborigines ...

The expansions {of the Kurgan people} in the opposite direction, westward, toward central and northern Europe, generated, one after another, the Celtic, Italic, and Germanic branches of Indo-European languages. Northward expansions may have originated the Balto-Slavic expansion, which was perhaps the last. The southward expansion was less successful, as the area was already heavily inhabited, but from the second millenium B.C. there were various Indo-European speaking peoples and dynasties in Turkey and the Middle East - the Hitittes and the Mitanni - whose probable origin was from the Kurgan. {end of selection}

(2) Colin Renfrew, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, Penguin, London 1987.

{p. 3} Over the past two decades, archaeology has looked with considerable disfavour on the work of those earlier generations of scholars who sought to explain the changes observed to have taken place in the archaeological record in terms mainly of migrations. We see now that the particular kinds of pottery so meticulously studied in the past are not necessarily secure indicators of particular groups of people - the pots themselves may have been traded, or a fashion in pot-making adopted, without any change in population. We see more clearly that social groups are not necessarily precisely the same thing as linguistic groups, and we are much more willing to accept changes in the archaeological record as the result of locally-occurring developments within the societies concerned rather than as the result of outside influences, or immigration.

All this has made unfashionable the kind of work prevalent fifty years ago, when the leading scholars of the day would write books with such titles as The Coming of the Greeks, or Prehistoric Migrations in Europe. We are now aware that major developments in human history, such as the emergence of early urban society in the East Mediterranean, were the products of the interplay of social and economic factors, and are not usually explained adequately simply by documenting the migrations of groups of people.

But have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater? For while we are surely right in looking to social and economic causes for most of the major developments, are not questions of national or ethnic identity (and hence of linguistic identity) often an important element in the social reality? This book sets out to argue that this is indeed the case, and that archaeologists have, with a few notable exceptions, failed in recent years to take adequate account of the linguistic evidence in building up our picture of the past. Of course there are sound reasons for that. Along with the enlightened interest in early Europe which led the great Australian archaeologist, V. Gordon Childe, to publish

{p. 4} his book The Aryans in 1926, arose a much more tendentious inclination to use (and sometimes to distort) the historical evidence for partisan political ends. ... Small wonder; then, that archaeologists have avoided so emotive a topic. Childe subsequently avoided all mention of his book The Aryans, although in fact it offered no evidence in favour of the delusion of racial superiority and was very careful to distinguish between language and culture and supposed racial classifications.

{p. 5} Re-reading today Gordon Childe's The Aryans, one can see that some of the questions which he posed remain entirely valid, and in most cases unanswered. So it is time, I feel, to return to some of those old questions, as well as to several new ones, without incurring the opprobium which such discussions understandably, and perhaps rightly, earned at the end of the Second World War.

{p. 6} The solution which I propose for the languages of Europe is in many ways a surprising one, and it has its implications for the modern world. Today, for instance, many people believe that the first Celtic inhabitants of Britain and Ireland arrived in these areas somewhere around 2000 BC from a homeland elsewhere in Europe. Others would prefer a date fifteen hundred years later. I shall argue that there is no evidence whatever for that, and the Celtic languages may have much longer antecedents in the areas where they are now spoken. Such an argument has the effect of removing the hiatus between the British and Irish neolithic periods - the time of the megalith builders and of the art of the Irish passage graves and the succeeding phases of prehistory. It means, if we accept it, that our origins - and in general this is claimed here for other parts of Europe too - go very much deeper. These lands have been our lands, and those of our forefathers, for thousands of years longer than is widely thought.

{The evidence, I think, supports Gimbutas and Danielou against Renfrew}

{p. 17} The most influential recent archaeological treatment has undoubtedly been that of Marija Gimbutas, of the University of C'alifornia at Los Angeles, who since 1970 has published a series of papers in which she locates the Indo-European homeland in the steppes of South Russia, very much as Childe did earlier. She, of course, has much more archaeological material with which to work. She uses the term Kurgan culture (i.e. the Barrow culture referring to the prehistoric burial mounds used in the area) to designate the material assemblage of these Proto-lndo-European speakers. ... Gimbutas, building on the work of Childe and before him of Schrader, thus lays considerable stress upon the arguments from linguistic palaeontology - the 'common words' to which she refers. In the further development of her theory, great weight is placed on especially significant features - for instance the kurgans (burial mounds) themselves, and the Corded Ware which, since the early paper by Kossinna, had attracted the attention of archaeologists.

{But Gimbutas portrays the Aryans as wreckers, vandals, oppressors of women}

{end of Renfrew selection}

(3) Marija Gimbutas, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe 3500 - 3500 BC, updated edition, Thames and Hudson, London 1982.

{p. 9} The term Old Europe is applied to a pre-Indo-European culture of Europe, a culture matrifocal and probably matrilinear, agricultural and sedentary, egalitarian and peaceful. It contrasted sharply with the ensuing proto-Indo-European culture which was patriarchal, stratified, pastoral, mobile and war-oriented, superimposed on all Europe, except the southern and western fringes, in the course of three waves of infiltration from the Russian steppe, between 4500 and 2500 B.C. During and after this period the female deities, or more accurately the Goddess Creatrix in her many aspects, were largely replaced by the predominantly male divinities of the Indo-Europeans. What developed after c. 2500 BC was a melange of the two mythic systems, Old European and Indo-European. ...

The persistence of the Goddess worship for more than 20,000 years, from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic and beyond, is shown by the continuity of a variety

{p. 10} of a series of conventionalized images.

{p. 17} Villages depending upon domesticated plants and animals had appeared in southeastern Europe as early as the seventh millennium BC, and the spiritual forces accompanying this change in the economic and social organization are manifested in the emergent artistic tradition of the Neolithic. The development of a food-producing economy and subsequent cultural innovations can no longer be simply explained as an introduction of vaguely designated colonists trom Anatolia or the east Mediterranean. During the seventh, sixth and fifth millennia BC the farmers of southeastern Europe evolved a unique cultural pattern, contemporary with similar developments in Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine and Egypt. It reached a climax in the fifth millennium BC.

A new designation, Civilization of Old Europe, is introduced here in recognition of the collective identity and achievement of the different cultural groups of Neolithic-Chalcolithic southeastern Europe. The area it occupied extends from the Aegean and Adriatic, including the islands, as far north as Czechoslovakia, southern Poland and the westem Ukraine. Between c. 7000 and c. 3500 BC, the inhabitants of this region developed a much more complex social organization than their western and northern neighbours, forming settlements which often amounted to small townships, inevitably involving craft specialization and the creation of religious and governmental institutions. They independently discovered the possibility of utilizing copper and gold for ornaments and tools, and even appear to have evolved a rudimentary script.

{p. 195} The image of the Great Goddess of Life, Death and Regeneration in anthropomorphic form with the projection of her powers through insects and animals ...

... during the period of early agriculture her image must have been transformed. The domesticated dog, bull and he-goat now became her companions ... the goddess was flanked by male animals noted for their strength. ...

{p. 196} In her chthonic and frightening aspect she must have been a Mother Terrible perhaps yearning for human and animal blood, as indicated by her epiphany in the shape of a ferocious dog.

There was no isolated image of a Mother Terrible; the aspects death and life are inextricably intertwined. She was deployed in graves to stimulate and perpetuate the procreative powers of the deceased. The European Great Goddess, like the Sumerian Ninkhursag, gave life to the Dead (another name for Ninkhursag was Nintinugga, 'She who gives life to the Dead'). Her magical hands an music were for the relcase of the life forces. The symbols of 'becoming' - eggs, crescents, horns, and crosses within circles and concentric circles - were engraved or painted over her body or on votivc vases. ...

In her incarnation as a pregnant doe, a chrysalis, caterpillar, butterfly, bee, toad, turtle, or hedgehog, she was a symbol of embryonic life and regeneration. In this fundamental notion lies her association with the moon and the horns. As a bee or a butterfly she emerges from the body or horns of the bull; as a bear she takes care of a young life.

As a supreme Creator who creates from her own substance she is the primary goddess of the Old European pantheon. In this she contrasts with the Indo-European Earth-Mother, who is the impalpable sacred earth-spirit and is not in herself a creative principle; only through the interaction of the male sky-god does she become pregnant.


The question now arises as to what happened to the prehistoric goddess after the third millennium BC. Did she disappear after the advent of the patriarchal Indo-European world or did she survive the dramatic change?

{p. 197} In Minoan (non Indo-European) Crete the Great Goddess is seen in representations on frescoes, rings and seals. She is shown in association with bulls, or bull-horns, 'double-axes' (butterflies), he-goats or lions. On a stamp from Knossos she appears as a lady of nature untamed on top of a mountain flanked by two lions and a male human worshipper. On a gold ring from Isopata near Knossos the butterfly- or bee-headed goddess is, as we have seen, surrounded by worshippers in festive garments wearing insect masks (see Fig. 146). She is represented on frescoes accompanied by worshippers, women or men in festive garments with upraised arms. Gigantic dogs portrayed on steatite vases or on cylinder seals (Matz 1962: 130) are probably the companions of the same goddess. She or her animals, particularly the bulls, dominate the ritualistic scenes throughout the Palace period of Minoan Crete.

In Greece, as in India, the Great Goddess survived the superimposed Indo-European cultural horizon. As the predecessor of Anatolian and Greek Hekate-Artemis (related to Kubaba, Kybebe/ Cybele) she lived through the Bronze Age, then through Classical Greece and even into later history in spite of transformations of her outer form and the many different names that were applied to her. The image of Hekate-Artemis of Caria, Lydia and Greece, based on descriptions of early Greek authors, vase paintings, and finds in actual sanctuaries dedicated to this multifunctional goddess, supplement and verify our understanding of the appearance and functions of the prehistoric goddess. Written sources pour blood into her veins of stone, clay, bone or gold.

In name and character she is a non-Greek, a non-Indo-European goddess. The name of Artemis is known from Greek, Lydian and Etruscan inscriptions and texts. Its antiquity is demonstrated by the appearance of the words A-ti-mi-te and A-ti-mi-to, the dative and genetive case of her name, on Linear B tablets from Pylos (Bennett 1955: 208-9). Hekate (Hekabe) was Asiatic, not known to the Greeks in name. She was Enodia in Thessaly, perhaps an earlier name later replaced by Hekate. Whether Artemis and Hekate appear as two goddesses or as one, they both belong to the moon cycle. Hekate, gruesome and linked with death; Artemis, youthful and beautiful, reflecting the purity of untouched nature and linked with motherhood.

In Caria (western Turkey) Hekate was the primary goddess. Mysteries and games were performed in her sanctuary at Lagina. In Colophon, dogs were sacrificed to her and she herself could turn into a dog. West of Lagina was Zerynthos, from which Hekate derived her name of Zerynthia. In Samothrace, there was a cave called Zerynthos associated with Hekate. Dogs were sacrificed there and mysteries and orgiastic dances were performed. Hekate and her dogs

{p. 198} are described as journeying over the graves of the dead and above the sacrificed blood. In the days of Aristophanes and Aischylos she is the mistress of the night road who leads travellers astray, of cross ways, of fate, and of the world of the dead, being known by both names, Hekate and Artemis. ... Sophocles in Antigone mentions Enodia as Perscphone, the ruler of the dead. The torch of the goddess probably relates to the fertilizing power of the moon since Hekate's torches were carried around the freshly sown fields to promote their fertility. Statues of Roman Diana show her crowned with the crescent and carrying a raised torch. Hekate is responsible for lunacy and, on the positive side, is Giver of Vision.

The Lady of free and untamed nature and the Mother, protectress of weaklings, a divinity in whom the contrasting principles of virginity and motherhood are fused into the conccpt of a single goddess, was venerated in Greece, Lydia, Crete and Italy. ... She, 'the pure and strong one', was surrounded by nymphs, flanked by animals, and as huntress dominated the animal world. Games with bulls were among the rituals of this goddess. She was present everywhcre in nature, above all in hills, forests, meadows, and fertile valleys, and often was therioform, appearillg as a bear or doe. ... Well-bred Athenian girls of marriageable age danced as bears in honour of Artemis of Brauronia, and during ritees of cult-initiation girls 'became' bears, arktoi (Bacho-

{p. 199} fen 1863: 24). In paintings on vascs, the worshippers of Artemis wore animal masks while dancing. The girls and women of Lakedemonia pertorlllcd orgiastic dances to glorify Artemis. ...

It is no mere coincidence that the venerated goddess of the sixth and fifth centuries in Ancient Grccce resembles the Goddess of Life and Death of the sixth and fifth millennia BC. Mythical images last for many millennia. In her various manifestations - strong and beautiful Virgin, Bear-Mother, and Life-giver and Life-taker - the

{p. 200} Great Goddess existed for at least five thousand years before the appearance of Classical Greek civilization. Village communities worship her to this day in the guise of the Virgin Mary.

{p. 216} The whole group of interconnected symbols - phallus (or cylinder, mushroom and conical cap), ithyphallic animal-masked man goat-man and the bull-man - represents a male stimulating principle in nature without whosc influcncc nothing would grow and thrive. This family of symbols goes back in its origin to the early agricultural era, to the same period when the Goddess of Vegetation was born and when goat- and cow-herds existed. Charging bulls, bull heads or horns alone, bovine heads with human eyes and ithyphallic men are already known to the Proto-Sesklo and Starcevo cultural complexes, i.e. no later than the seventh millennium BC. Shrincs of Catal Huyuk include large bull figures in wall frescoes and sculptured bull heads and horns. Around the Mediterranean the bull and he-goat played a prominent part in religion from the seventh millennium onwards. So did the phallus, recognizable as a high cylindrical neck of androgynous figurilles, as a stand, or the stem of a cup. ...

{This suggests that Alain Danielou is right in seeing Shivaism and its analogues as the original religion prior to the rise of male-oriented morality (Jain, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Confucian etc.); further, it contradicts Renfrew's depiction of those early cultures as Indo-European}

Representations of phalli are found in all phases and cultural groups of Old Europe with a wider variety in Neolithic Greece and Yugo-

{p. 217} slavia, particularly the Adriatic seaboard. They were fashioned in all sizes from the miniature to the exaggerated. Their decoration and shape range from naturalistic to fantastic: some have a 'cap' or a circumcision and an opening on top; others are geometrically decorated by painting or incision; still others spiral upwards like snakes. The clay phallus from Tsangli, a large Sesklo site in Thessaly, is painted cream, its naturalism enhanced by reddish-brown bands and has a broad incision at the top. From later Neolithic Sesklo comes an enormous marble phallus painted with red meanders top and bottom (National Museum, Athens 5936; Zervos, 1963: 398). The Vinca and Lengyel clay or bone phalli were decorated with bands of horizontal incisions and white encrusted patterns of dots symbolizing snakes. The East Balkan and Cucuteni phalli are usually undecorated.

Danilo, Butmir and Vinca settlements yielded hundreds of 'wine cups' with phallus-shaped stems. Many of them have plain, pointed stems, but others are charmingly decorated and masterfully shaped sculptures. Most interesting are those phalli imitating snakes, indicated by incision or in relief. In some instances two heads of snakes or of frogs appear on the top; others have human facial features, such as a protruding nose, while others again are geometrically decorated with striated zigzag bands or triangles. Cylindrical cups modelled as human heads also occur, and dishes and bowls of the Late Vinca complex have a phallus standing in the middle (Plocnik site: Archaeol. Museum Nis, Inv. 490).

Another category of phallic representations is made up of stands with human, animal or amorphous facial characteristics. Simple clay cylinders with a flattened base are frequent in the Starcevo and Early Vinca complexes of the central Balkans. Some have human facial features and female breasts; others have male genitals. We have already discussed the phallic aspect of the long cylindrical necks of the Bird Goddess and Great Goddess of the seventh and sixth millennia BC. The combining of female and male characteristics in one figurine did not completely die out after the sixth millennium BC.

{p. 220} The ecstatic dancer, goat- or bull-masked, as seen in the Vinca sculptural repertory, can be interpreted as a representation of either an archetypal Dionysus or an excited worshipper of the Great Goddess.


Dionysus is a pre-lndo-European god of great antiquity in spite of his composite name (dio-nysos, 'god of Nysa or Nysai'; the latter probably is a pre-Indo-European place name). His cult in Greece is evidenced by temples, sculptures of phalli and descriptions of processions carrying huge phalli as late as the second century BC, and the persisting tradition of Dionysiac festivals even into later times is attested by a group of mythical images having strong roots in the local (southeast European-western Anatolian) soil. Discussions about the origin of the Greek Dionysus - whether he came to Greece from Thrace, Crete or western Asia Minor - are pointless, since all these lands originally belonged to the same Mother Culture. Dionysus was a bull-god, god of annual renewal, imbued with all the urgency of nature. Brimming with virility, he was the god most favoured by women.

The abundance of phalli in Dionysiac festivals, in sculptures near the temples, on herms used as signposts on the roads and before the doors of houses suggests that the ancient Greeks were no less obsessed by phallic magic than were the Old Europeans. ...

{p. 227} The key to a more complete understanding of the male god and the Bull God of Old Europe lies in the Dionysiac festivals - Anthesteria, Lenaia and the Greater Dionysia. In these festivals, which have assimilated elements of deep antiquity, Dionysus appears as a year-

{p. 228} god. The idea of renewal is predominant throughout the festivals of winter and spring. Each re-enacts an orgiastic agricultural scenario with phalli, phallus-shaped cups, ladles and cult dishes and the bullman (Diollysus) marrying the queen (goddess).

The Lenaia festival held in January was preceded by a Rural Dionysia in which phalli were carried in procession amid general merrymaking to promote the fertility of the autumn-sown seed, and of the soil during the winter recess. Offerings were made before the image of Dionysus (including pouring porridge with a ladle). and priapic and goat songs were sung. The purpose of the Lenaia festival was to arouse the slumbering vegetation (Deubner 1956; James l961: 142-43). The City Dionysia festival in March was also designed to ellsure fertility. To this festival the cities of the Athenian empire sent the grossest kind of fertility emblem, the phallus, as part of their tribute (Webster 1959: 59). Anthresteria was a Festival of Flowers in honour of Diollysus as the god of spring, and included drinking and rejoicing. The second day of the festival was called Choes, the Day of the Cups. The wine was taken from the jars and brought to the sanctuary of Dionysus in the marshes, where it was silently distributed in small jugs among all citizens over the age of four. After everyone had drunk, the wife of the magistrate was married to Dionysus in the Bukoleion or Ox-stall, attended by women who had taken vows of chastity in the service of Dionysus. Thither the image of Dionysus, possibly in bovine form, or an actor wearing horns and a hide, was brought on a boat-like structure on wheels to complete the nuptial rites (James 1961: 140).

A sanctuary of Dionysus, which can be traced back to the fifteenth century BC., has been discovered on the island of Keos (Caskey 1964: 326). It yielded more than twenty terracotta figurines portraying women in a dancing posture, dressed in festive attire, with exposed breasts, 'snake collars and belts'. They may represent maenads, the devotees and ecstatic dancers in the Dionysiac festivals. The sanctuary was used for more than one thousand years, up to the Hellenistic period.

Since many elements of the year-god's festivals are represented in the sculptural art of Old Europe, it seems not unreasonable to assume that festivals took place in Neolithic and Chalcolithic Europe. Possibly the central idea of ritual drama, the 'Sacred Marriage', the ritual coition of the male god and a female goddess, is reflected in the little sculpture from Cascioarele. The statuette belongs to the East Balkan Chalcolithic Gumelnita complex and is the only one of its kind, but this does not necessarily mean that there were no portrayals of the 'Sacred Marriage' in other areas and periods of Old Europe. The presence of the masked ithyphallic god also implies a festival at which a wedding ceremony is enacted, the male god marrying the

{p. 230} Great Goddess. From the Cascioarele figurine it is seen that she is not a pregnant goddess, but a youthful virgin. She is portrayed in the nude and has a large pubic triangle.

When was the drama of hierogamy {sacred marriage} introduced into Europe? Was it at the very beginning of the Neolithic period, or on the advent of advanced agriculture? It seems unlikely to have been later than c. 65OO BC, when the 'phallic obsession' became manifest through representations of phallic stands, cups and ithyphallic gods.


We have considered until now the youthful, strong, creative aspect of the primeval Dionysus. Is there anything in the sculptural art of Old Europe to indicate his other aspect- the peaceful ancient? There are figures of a squatting or seated man on a stool or throne; his arms either rest peacefully on his lap, or they are propped on his knees to provide a support for his head. He shows no signs of emotion and is not animal-masked; his attitude and the facial expression of the mask he wears imply contemplation and worry. We may call him, therefore, the 'sorrowful god'. There are not enough data to reveal his functions, but we may suppose that he is either a god of vegetation, an old year-god who must die in order to be reborn the following spring, or a god of death, consort of the Great Goddess in her aspect of Death. The wide temporal and geographical distribution of this type of god speaks for his established position in the pantheon of Old Europe. His importance is stressed by the fact that the sculptures of a 'sorrowful god' are frequently produced with extreme care, some ranking as masterpieces of Neolithic art. Among these are the Vulkaneshti and Hamangia (Cernavoda) men in a leaning position seated on a small stool. Both are nude and in them we find the best portrayals of the male body dating from the fifth millennium BC.

{p. 237} In Old Europe the world of myth was not polarized into female and male as it was among the Indo-European and many other nomadic and pastoral peoples of the steppes. Both principles were manifest side by side. The male divinity in the shape of a young man or a male animal appears to affirm and strengthen the forces of the creative and active female. Neither is subordinate to the other, by complementing one another, their power is doubled.

{p. 238} The teaching of Western civilization starts with the Greeks and rarely do people ask themselves what forces lay behind thesc beginnings. But European civilization was not created in the space of a few centuries; the roots are deeper - by six thousand ycars. That is to say, vestiges of the myths and artistic concepts of Old Europe, which endured from the seventh to the fourth millennium BC were transmitted to the modern Western world and became part of its cultural heritage. {end of selection}

(4) Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, edited by Joan Marler, HarperSanFrancisco, NY 1991.

{p. viii} I reject the assumption that civilization refers only to androcratic warrior societies. The generative basis of any civilization lies in its degree of artistic creation, aesthetic achievements, nonmaterial values, and freedom which make life meaningful and enjoyable for all its citizens, as well as a balance of powers between the sexes. Neolithic Europe was not a time "before civilization" (used as the title for Colin Renfrew's book on Neolithic and Copper Age Europe, 1973). It was, instead, a true civilization in the best meaning of the word. In the 5th and early 4th millennia B.C., just before its demise in east-central Europe, Old Europeans had towns with a considerable concentration of population, temples several stories high, a sacred script, spacious houses of four or five rooms, professional ceramicists, weavers, copper and gold metallurgists, and other artisans producing a range of sophisticated goods. A flourishing network of trade routes existed that circulated items such as obsidian, shells, marble, copper, and salt over hundreds of kilometers.

All of this was not ex nihilo. Next door, in Anatolia, a multitude of temples appeared in the town of Catal Huyuk which had wall paintings of extraordinary richness and sophistication a thousand years earlier than the high-level architecture, wall paintings, sculptures, and ceramic art of Europe. Before Catal Huyuk, there were three more millennia in which the evolutionary transition to agriculture and a settled civilized life took place. The rich display of religious symbolism which flowered in central Anatolia and in Old Europe is part of an unbroken continuity from Upper Paleolithic times.

It is a gross misunderstanding to imagine warfare as endemic to the human condition. Widespread fighting and fortification building have indeed been the way of life for most of our direct ancestors from the Bronze Age up until now. However, this was not the case in the Paleolithic and Neolithic. There are no depictions of arms (weapons used against other

{p. x} humans) in Paleolithic cave paintings, nor are there any remains of weapons used by man against man during the Neolithic of Old Europe. From some hundred and fifty paintings that survive from Catal Huyuk, there is not one depicting a scene of conflict or fighting, or of war or torture.

{p. 293} Isbister, located on the southern tip of an island in the south of Orkney, was covered by a cairn dome 3 to 3.50 m high, measuring 10 by 8 m. ...

Because of the discovery of bones and carcasses of sea eagles, the Isbister tomb became singled out as "Tomb of the Eagles" ... This tomb was not, however, an ossuary for birds alone. It was, like other megalithic graves, a sacred place to which human bones were returned after excarnation. Some 90 percent of the birds of prey that

{p. 294} would have defleshed the corpses were white-tailed sea eagles. Thirty-five of their carcasses were counted alongside those of gulls, owls, crows, ravens, and other birds found in the chamber and scattered around the tomb. The burial or sacrifice of eagles within the chamber speaks for their extraordinary importance as birds of the Goddess of Death and Regeneration.

The excavation at Isbister revealed the strongest evidence for the practice of excarnation since none of the human bones were deposited while still articulated. The bodies were defleshed outside the tomb before a selection of the skeletal remnants were transferred to the chamber. These bones were bleached and weathered and must have been exposed for a considerable length of time.

In other megalithic tombs of the Orkney islands, not fish but dogs were buried as sacred animals of the Goddess: at Cuween, twenty-four dog skulls were found, and at Burray, dog skulls and skeletons were discovered in each compartment of the grave. At Holm of Papa Westray North, a dozen pairs of deer antlers were found, as symbols of regeneration or as remnants of headdresses for deer dances. ...

The burial of fish, dogs, and deer speaks for more extensive celebrations than the simple eating of meat. Music and dances were certainly involved. There are, unfortunately, no pictorial representations on pottery found in the megalithic tombs in Orkney . ...

Isbister is a perfect example of a Neolithic ossuary, the most sacred place on the land of a kin-group. The imposing megalithic structures symbolized the Center and were the link with the ancestral land, the ancestors, and the members of the kin-group. To call the megalithic tombs "territorial markers" as Colin Renfrew has done is somewhat denigrating to the culture itself. We do not call the village churches of our times "territorial markers" although they are visible, highly revered religious centers, as were the megalithic shrines. There are ethnographic parallels with the practice of two-stage burial and the construction of large megalithic edifices. Close analogies are found among the Merina of central Madagascar. The Merina are endogamous people who live in kin-groups on ancestral land (which M. Bloch calls demes). These people

{p. 295} stress their unity in terms of the permanent association of their group with the irrigated lands which they hold in common. Every deme has its own tomb, an extremely solid megalithic building, which is a central symbol for the group. The Merina practice a two-stage burial in which the corpse is first buried without any particular sepulcher near the locality where the death took place. The second stage, called famadihana, involves exhumation of the decomposed corpse and reburial in the communal tomb in the ancestral land of the deceased. The return of the bones is a joyous event, celebrated with music and dances, even dancing with bones. Individuality is what decomposes, whereas the bones belong to the world of the ancestors. Famadihana emphasizes the importance of the group rather than the individual dead. This grinding together of the corpses in the tomb is the supreme act which leads to the blessing of the ancestors. The building of permanent megalithic structures by the

Merina, which serve as ossuaries of a single kin-group, and the enactment of the famadihana ritual is a Neolithic tradition continuous to modern times; it mirrors the tradition of two-stage burial in the megalithic culture of Western Europe.

Despite Christian influence, the continuity of Neolithic burial traditions can still be-traced among the modern day Basques of Spain. In their country, the primary unit of social organization is the rural farmstead, called basseria, which cannot be dismembered by sale or inheritance. Each basseria is associated with a sepulturie on the floor of the local church, which is a symbolic burial plot where rites to the dead take place. On Sundays the women surround it with candles. Masses said are for the collective dead and for all former owners of the farmstead which, until the late 18th century, was the real burial site. Today, corpses are buried outside the church in plots allocated by household. The individual grave is of little importance.

{p. 338} In summary, the cemetery evidence in central and east-central Europe during the 5th millennium BC. speaks for the existence of kinship based societies. Graves were arranged in rows or in groups of twenty to thirty-five people, which may reflect kin-related units. The most honored members of the Old European society were elder females, perhaps heads of the stem or queens, and girls who were very likely members of a hereditary line or priestesses. Their graves do not indicate the accumulation of personal possessions but are marked by symbolic items, sometimes of exceptional quality, and by the erection of gigantic mounds and consecrated structures. The graves of girls and female infants were consistently equipped with exceptional ritual objects not found in other graves. Analysis of blood groups testify to a pronounced endogamous society which may suggest that these girls were important heiresses in a hereditary female line.

Black Sea Coast: Several Cemeteries in East Bulgaria After 4500 B.C. with Very Rich Male Graves

The only area where marked changes in social structure has been observed is along the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria. Here, in several cemeteries, the dominance of adult males in the burial domain does seem more overt than in any other part of east-central Europe. Researchers see "incipient patriarchal tendencies." I consider this change a result of rapidly rising trade activities of the inhabitants of the Black Sea coast with the Dnieper-Volga steppe population who were wedging their way into territories west of the Black Sea. ...

Evidence from Megalithic Tombs, Long-Bawows, and Henges of Western Europe

There are more than 10,000 megalithic tombs and long-barrows known in western Europe. Nevertheless, the essential evidence of social structure is either hidden by the nature of the burial rites themselves, or the tombs were robbed in antiquity. Megaliths, as already discussed, were ossuaries and ritual centers, focal points of one or several villages. Bones of the dead which had been defleshed during excarnation were placed in these tombs. Those which were exposed to birds and sun for a longer time were fragmental, and in many cases only single bones, such as skulls or long bones, were collected. Cremation also was practiced. Therefore it is nearly impossible to count the number of individuals in a particular tomb and calculate the approximate number and sex of individuals in the territory during the time of its use. The association of megalithic tombs and long-barrows with habitation sites is rarely known since the houses have long since disappeared. The solid structures of stone barrows and gigantic henges still stand in their majesty today, and it is from their location and architecture that most information on the society that built them can be extracted. Most work on the reconstruction of Neolithic society has been done in the British Isles, particularly in the Orkneys, north of Scotland. In 1976, Colin Renfrew described megalithic culture as composed of

{P. 339} small-scale segmentary societies lacking the centralized, hierarchical structure of a chiefdom or state, consisting of cellular and modular autonomous units, but he assumes that population stress and greater pressure on critical resources stimulated an emphasis on territoriality. Evidence of a hierarchical structure of the Indo-European chiefdom type cannot be found during the entire duration of the building of megaliths, in spite of their imposing architecture and the enormous time and energy expended in building them.

{p. 341} The ability to organize communal work on a grand icale is one of the chief characteristics of the culture of megalith builders. According to Fraser, however, there is no evidence on the Orkney Islands that power resided in the hands of a single ndividual. This system, judged from radiocarbon dates, existed on the islands or more than a millennium, from the end of the 4th and throughout the 3rd nillennium B.C.

An analogous situation can be seen in southern England where monuments from long-barrows to causewayed camps and henges exist. The human effort expended in the construction of these camps is an order of magnitude greater than required for large megalithic tombs, and henge monuments required even more. The Windmill Hill causewayed camp, for instance, is calculated to have required 120,000 work hours, the Avebury monument 1.5 million, and Durrington Walls 0.9 million. On the basis of such calculations, Renfrew has assumed the existence of chiefdoms in Neolithic Wessex. This statement is in contradiction to information concerning the composite social units of the Orkney Islands since in both areas the spacial stratification is similar. The megalithic culture of all of Britain and western Europe is interrelated, and it is questionable that Wessex diverged from the pattern to become a patriarchal chiefdom society. It should not be forgotten that the superordinate monuments of southern England and Ireland - Avebury, Silbury, Durrington Walls, Newgrange, Knowth - are religious monuments and communal property, the products of col1ective work dedication, and love. They are far from being royal tombs or administrative structures ordered to be built by a king or chief for his own glory. The latter do not belong within the context of the belief system of Old Europe. When secularization of life began in Britain with the Indo-European chieftains, religious monuments of this kind vanished.

Henges consisting of two to six concentric ring ditches and palisades of upright wooden posts are not a phenomenon of Wessex or Britain alone. ... They were not built for the protection of people and their property, as it was believed earlier, but as festival centers and meeting places for funerary rituals, including music and dances perhaps also as grounds and courses for sports and games.

{p. 342} The worship of female deities is connected to a mother-kinship system and ancestor worship in which the sexual identity of the head of the family and kin formulated the sexual identity of the supreme deity. ... Roman religions and mythologies, but also in Basque, Old Irish, Welsh, Gaulish, Norse and German, Lithuanian, Latvian, and all Slavic mythologies and folklore. It is remarkable that beneath the intertwined layers of Christian and Indo-European influences, many elements of the Old European layer are still richly preserved.

The Goddess as Macrocosm and Life Giver

The Paleolithic Goddess was typically a macrocosmic extension of a woman's body. Her essential parts - vulva, breasts, buttocks, belly - were endowed with the miraculous power of procreation. These symbols continued into the Neolithic and can later be explained as a reflection or memory of a matrilineal system in which paternity was considered unimportant or difficult to establish. The Goddess was a cosmic Creatrix, Life- and Birth-giver, while the father image is not known to Paleolithic or Neolithic art. There follows a resume of the three main aspects of the Goddess.

Mistress of Nature

This goddess is a manifestation of lifegiving and life-destroying energies of nature. Her pattern is cosmic - the endlessly repeated cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, corresponding to the phases of the moon and to spring, summer, and winter. She was worshiped in nature - on mountain tops, in caves, at wells, brooks, and streams - and in tombs and temples as a Regeneratrix.

Goddess of Fertility

The Pregnant Goddess, rising and dying with vegetation, is a metaphor of the death and renewal of plant life. She was worshiped at bread ovens in courtyards or in houses as bread giver.

Goddesses as Symbols of Perpetual Life

The Bird and Snake Goddesses are incarnations of life energy and a link between the ancestors and living members of the family. These house and temple goddesses developed from the beginning of agriculture and settled life into protectresses of the family and hearth.

Male Deities as Partners of Goddesses

There are no sculptures of male gods in the Paleolithic, and there are no male gods associated with life and birth giving or death wielding throughout the Neolithic period. The half-human, half-animal figure that appears in cave art, usually interpreted as a shaman, may have been a "Master of Animals and Forests" since the existence of such a mythical image is well documented in European mythologies. As a complementary figure to Mistress of Nature, Master of Animals appears in Catal Huyuk wall paintings. The rising and dying Earth Fertility Goddess had a male partner, year god, a fructifying consort, who appeared in the spring, matured in the summer, and died in autumn with th~ vegetation. This god cannot be traced in the Paleolithic and is associated only with the cultivation of agriculture. In Neolithic art, as already discussed in chapter 7, he is portrayed as strong an youthful in an ithyphallic posture and as an old sorrowful god seated on a stool or throne with hands on knees or supporting his chin. ...

The representation of copulation in Neolithic imagery may be connected with Sacred Marriage. Such a sculptu of a female embracing a male was found at Catal Huyuk in central Anatolia from the 7th millennium B.C., while a similar sculpture from the 5th millennium B.C. was found in Gumelnita, Romania. In the Near East, an "erotique" statuette from the Natufian culture was discovered at Ain Sakhri, which sets the beginning of this imagery at nearly 10,000 B.C. The hieros gamos was celebrated in erotic hymns at Sumer (Inanna's stori and hymns were published by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, 1983). A strong continuity of hieros gamos persists in myth and ritual throughout history and well into the 20th century. A ritual mating with the local goddess has been the basis of inauguration of each of the 150 tribal

{p. 343} kings reigning in Ireland in the first cenries A.D. The earliest traditions about Medb identify her as the Goddess whose wedding periodically created a king at Tara. A similar tradition of kings mating with the Goddess is known in Scandinavia prior to the late 5th century A.D. There is also the celebration of Beltane in the British Isles and the marriage of a May Day Queen and King in rituals practiced in Germany in the 19th and early 20th centuries. ...

Women's rituals inherited from matristic cultures in which men are not allowed are not only expressed in fairy dances, but also in essential birth and agricultural rituals performed in historic times as well as in our own times in

{p. 344} patriarchal societies. The examples are many. It will suffice here to mention one of the most characteristic rituals from ancient Greece: the festival of Demeter Thesmophoria, a birth and earth fertility ritual known to us from epigraphic evidence and from an account by Aristophanes. ...

Survival of Old European Matriliny in the Bronze Age and in Historic Times

A strong indication for the existence of matriliny in Old Europe is the historic continuity of matrilineal succession in the non-Indo-European societies of Europe and Asia Minor such as the Minoan, Etruscan, Pelasgian, Lydian, Lykian, Carian in western Turkey, Basque in northern Spain and southwest France, and the Picts in Britain before the Celts. This influence is also found in Indo-European-speaking societies - Celts, Teutons, Slavs, and Balts - who absorbed matricentric and matrilineal traditions from the rich substratum of Old European populations.

Traces of matrilineal practices have been found in recent centuries in peripheral areas of the west and north of Europe, and in the Aegean islands. In a number of islands, including Lesbos, Lemnos, Naxos, and Kos, matrilineal succession to real property was the rule at the end of the 18th century A.D. The facts were reported by an English traveller, John Hawkins, who wrote: "In the large number of the islands, the eldest daughter takes as her inheritance a portion of the family house, together with its furniture, and one third of the share of the maternal property, which in reality in most of these cases constitutes the chief means of subsistence; the other daughters, when they marry off in succession, are likewise entitled to (a portion of) the family house and the same share of whatever property remains. These observations were applicable to the islands of Mytilin (Lesbos), Lemnos, Scopelo, Skyros, Syra, Zea Ipsera, Myconi, Paros, Naxia, Siphno, Santorini and Cos, where I have either collected my information in person or had obtained it through others."

The matrilineal system in the 18th century, and in some islands up to the 20th century, certainly did not emerge in these late centuries but must have continued unbroken from prehistory. Its persistence is found in areas not touched by the Indo-Europeans, where the process of Indo-Europeanization was weak, or where the Old European substratum was very strong, as in Greece and Eturia. In the same areas where matrilineality survived, a non-Indo-European language persisted into historic times. A non-Greek language, for example, was st spoken in parts of Crete and the Aegean islands as late as the 4th century B.C.

We shall proceed with the Minoan culture of Crete, then move to western Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, to the Etruscans and Rome, and across the Mediterranean to western and northern Europe.

Minoan Crete

Old European culture continued on island of Crete for several millennia longer than on the mainland and reached a magnificent flowering in the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C. The Minoan culture was described by Sir Leonard Wooley as "the enchantment of the fairy world," and "the most complete acceptance of the grace of life world has ever known."

The Minoan communities were generally small scale, although by the end of the 3rd millennium B.C. the population at Knossos approximated 18,000. The country was governed by a theacracy (rule of the Goddess). This culture declined after the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C., not from internal but as a result of natural catastrophy in combination with the gradual incursions onto the island of patriarchal, Indo-Eurpean-speaking Mycenaeans.

Cretan burial rites of the Early Minoan period (3rd millennium B.C.) were not unlike those of the western European megalithic culture. Communal burials, usually in a circular tomb called tholos, were practiced, and from the provision of ceremonial space in front of the elaborate entrances to the tombs, it seems that funerary rites with feasting in both areas may have been similar. The study by K. Branigan has shown that these tombs are identified as burial places of extended families with a living membership of about twenty persons. The extended family was an important social unit in this society and at many sites, two or three tombs

{p. 345} are built immediately alongside one another. Since these are contemporary with each other, they seem to represent adjacent burial places of two or three extended families. The tombs are linked with settlements and are no more than ten to fifteen meters away. It was noticed that one tomb is architecturally superior to the others, which suggests that one extended family claimed primacy or pre-eminence and that communities already knew a degree of social ranking.

Although this culture is called Minoan, its flowering in the early 2nd millennium B.C. had nothing to do with king Minos, whose legendary appearance actually came during the demise of this great culture. The palaces were not built by kings and were not administrative centers for a ruler, but were palace temples where elaborate religious rituals took place within a theacratic system. Contrary to the subsequent Mycenaean influence, Minoan culture was primarily feminine inspired.

From the first discovery of this culture at Knossos in the beginning of the 20th century, the self-possessed independence and confidence of women was noticed. Frescoes, to the great astonishment of the scholarly world, revealed beautiful, elegant women dressed in exquisite costumes, frequently bare breasted. They are shown mixing freely with men in festivals, riding in chariots driven by female charioteers, and participating as athletes during the ritual bull games. Frescoes from Thera (sixty kilometers north of Crete) show women presiding at large naval festivals, standing on balconies overseeing processions of young men who are carrying an animal for sacrifice. (FIGURE 9-16) There are great numbers of outstanding women portrayed as priestesses and goddesses, and it cannot be doubted that women maintained a centrality in religion until Mycenaean times. The seat of honor in the throne room at Knossos was most likely the seat of the highest representa-

{p. 346} tive of the Goddess. The throne was decorated with a circle and a crescent and griffins were painted on the wall at each side. The griffin acted as guardian to the Goddess, as shown on a fresco from Thera (see fig. 7-8).

Men also appear in Minoan art but never as priests or kings, and only a very few images have been interpreted as depicting a god. Men are usually shown engaged in a variety of occupations such as cup bearers, pages, musicians, harvesters, craftsmen, and sailors. In the naval festival portrayed in the miniature fresco from Thera, sailors can be distinguished as representing at least several categories: simple oarsmen, captain, assistants to a captain, and important males in long cloaks sitting in the cabin of the boat. (FIGURE 9-17) The miniature fresco also reveals rustic people wearing fur or skin coats, while young men participating in rituals are shown in the nude or with hip belts. Men's long robes seem to denote advanced age and social status. The important women and priestesses of adult age in Thera, as in Crete, always wore long, flounced skirts.

Marriage in Crete was matrilocal and this custom continued late into the historical period. Matrilocal marriage is described by Strabo in the 1st century B.C. and is witnessed by the laws inscribed on the walls of the temple of Gortyna. From these we learn that a woman, on marriage, retained full control of her property and had the right of divorce at her pleasure. Also, the mother's brother occupied an important position and was responsible for bringing up her children.


At Sparta, in the center of the Peloponnese, where the inhabitants were a mixture of Indo-European warrior clans with the indigenous prepatriarchal peoples, women's position was similar to that in Crete. As Briffault remarked, "Spartan women were entirely unrestricted in their social and sexual relations. Virginity was not demanded of a bride. Children born out of wedlock were called 'virgin born' and were regarded as equal to those born in wedlock. The

{p. 347} Spartans practiced fraternal polyandry, and their marriage was matrilocal." The clan in the area of Corinth, according to Herodotus, observed the custom of "marrying and giving in marriage among themselves," a clearly endogamous system. The name of the clan is Bakchidai, i.e., a matrilineal clan. ...

Western Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands

Herodotus described the Lycians of western Turkey as having practiced matrilineal descent. He further wrote: "Their customs are in part Cretan and in part Carian. But they have one which is their own and shared by no other men; they take their names not from their fathers but from their mothers; and when one is asked by his neighbor who he is, he will say that he is the son of such a mother, and recount the mother of his mother." When Plutarch mentioned the Lycian clan, he called them Ioxidai or Ioxides, implying that the feminine form (Ioxidai) was the proper one by giving it first. Succession too was matrilineal since daughters inherited in preference to sons. The basic unit of society, attested by sepulchral inscriptions, was the matrilineal household. Some of these inscriptions contain a formula of the familiar matrilineal type: "Neiketes son of Parthena . . . Neiketes son of Lalla . . . Euteches, father unknown. ... "

The Carians and Leleges both belonged to the Anatolian seaboard and the distinction between them is somewhat indefinite. We learn from Herodotus that at the time of the Persian War his native Halikarnassos was under a Carian queen, Artemisia. Her mother was a Cretan, and though she had a grown-up son she retained the royal power. Her domain extended to the adjacent islands of Kos, Kalymnos, and Nisyros, and when Xerxes of Persia invaded Greece, she furnished him with a contingent of five warships, commanded by herself. At the battle of Salamis when the Persian threat had begun, her flagship was hotly pursued by the Athenians, but she saved herself by adroitly turning about and ramming a Persian vessel.

The Ionian conquerors of Miletos took Carian wives who, resenting the slaughter of their menfolk, refused to eat with their new husbands or call them by their names. At Teos, another Ionian settlement, a list of annual magistrates was discovered. In eleven cases out of twenty-five, the clan and village had the same name. This means that the identity of the two units was still largely intact and, therefore, their native institutions must have been preserved. The Pelasgoi survived still speaking their own language at several places in the north Aegean - Akte on the Macedonian coast, Kreston somewhere in the same region, and Lemnos on the Propontis. They are also recorded in Samotraike, the Troad, Lydia, Lesbos, and Chios. The Pelasgoi of Lemnos figure in one of the Greek legends. After setting sail from Thessaly in quest of the Golden Fleece, the Argonauts put in at Lemnos which was then "ruled by women" under Queen Hipsipyle.

Matrilineal Succession of the Etruscans and the Roman Monarchy

The Etruscans are known to have been matrilineal. In bilingual inscriptions, the father's name is inserted in the Latin version only, while the mother's name, always given in Etruscan, is sometimes omitted in the Latin. It was Bachofen in the mid-19th century A.D. who first noticed that the status of Etruscan women, in the archaic period at least - 7th to 5th centuries B.C. - was surprisingly high in comparision to that of Greek and Roman women.

Tomb paintings and inscriptions have told us more of the Etruscans' luxurious style of life and the considerable role played by women. Accounts of Greek and Roman writers give further evidence of these facts and, more importantly, they indicate how the high status of women frightened them. Their writings express the view that the relations between men and women and their differing attitudes toward sex create a conflict, since strong women were seen as a threat to the power of the state. Historian Larissa Bonfante suggests that Rome's first "cultural shock" was that she was becoming too much like the Etruscan city that confronted her across the Tiber and from whom she took so much external culture - letters, the arts, and symbols of royalty. For the Romans, the Etruscans would always represent "the others."

What we know best about the Etruscans is from their art and literature which express the freedom and power of women in their society. Theopompus, the Greek historian of the 4th century B.C., was startled by this. According to his report, Etruscan women took great care of their bodies, often exercising in the nude with men and with each other, which was not considered shameful. They were very beautiful, and it was not uncommon for them to recline publicly at dinner with men other than their husbands. These women liked to drink, and they even took part in the toasting traditionally reserved for men at Greek symposia. Most shocking of all, they raised all their children, according to Theopompus, whether or not they knew

{p. 348} who the fathers were. The fact of raising their children without their husbands' formal recognition was probably connected with their right to own property.

In dress, too, there was less distinction between men and women. An outsider could easily think that Etruscan women dressed like men. In the late 6th century, for example, they wore mantles and high shoes, symbols of citizenship and rank. All these marks of equality shocked the Greeks, who took them as signs of immorality.

Each of the last three Etruscan kings of Rome owed his throne to an Etruscan woman. The individual names of Etruscan women indicated their different and legal social status. In contrast, a Roman woman bore no name of her own. She was known first as her father's daughter and later as her husband's wife. Succession from father-in-law to son-in-law in Roman society was a recognized mode of matrilineal inheritance in which queenship passed from mother to daughter. Furthermore, we hear from Greek historians that the Etruscans and prehistoric Athenians had "wives in common" and "their children did not know their own fathers." In such a system, the woman is free to marry the man of her choice, or as many as she pleases, and she retains control of her children without regard to their paternity. On this basis, George Thomson in his work on ancient Greek society made the assumption that group marriage was combined with common ownership in prehistoric Aegean societies.

Western and Northern Europe

In western Europe, several cultural islands, like strongholds, have continued Old European traditions throughout the millennia: the Basques in the western Pyrenees of northern Spain and southwestern France, the Iberians in southeast and eastern Spain, and the Picts in the Scottish Highlands. The Celts, Teutons, and Balts also inherited a great deal of Old European features in their social structure.

The Basque language is a relic of the ancient western European languages, and is not only pre-Latin but is also pre-Indo-European. It is the only indigenous language to survive the invasions and cultural influences of the last 3,000 years. The Basque people have shown a remarkable ability to integrate influences without losing their cultural identity. Indeed, they are the great exception to all the laws of European political and cultural history. There is no doubt that the Basques are living Old Europeans and their roots are sought even in earlier times. Proponents of the Upper Paleolithic origins of the Basques point to the persistence of the racial characteristics of the Cro-Magnon type and to the persistent traditions of mythological themes. The religion of the Goddess, the usage of a lunar calendar, matrilineal laws of inheritance, and agricultural work performed by women continued here into the early 20th century. The high status attributed to the Basque woman in law codes, as well as to her place as inheritor, judge, and arbitrator in pre-Roman, medieval, and modern times has been widely discussed for over a century. The codes of the French Basque region reflect a system of laws governing succession in which there was total equality between the sexes. Exceptions to this norm were found only among the tiny noble class of Labourd and to a limited extent among some of the nonrural houses of Soule. In the indigenous Basque system, no preference was given to the male over the female. Up until the eve of the French Revolution, the Basque woman was truly "the Mistress of the House," hereditary guardian, and head of the lineage. "Among the Iberians," according to Strabo in the 1st century B.C., "the men bring dowries to the women. With them the daughters alone inherit property. Brothers are given away in marriage by their sisters. In all their usages, their social condition is one of gynaecocracy."

The Picts are another Old European group surrounded by Indo-European speakers who preserved the matrilineal laws, Goddess's religion, and Her symbols. Among the Picts, the transmission of property was exclusively matrilineal; an inherited estate passed to the children of the daughter, in the case of siblings. Matrilineal kinship of the Picts lasted until A.D. 842. Women did no leave home on marriage, a practice that survived in the Scottish Highlands even into the early 20th century.

Archeological finds have revealed incredibly rich graves of Celtic princesses from the Hallstatt and La Ter periods, 7th to 4th century B.C., in southern France and the Rhineland. This has roots in earlier local traditions, together with the preservation of the worship the Goddess and matrilineal success in all Celtic territories. {The Celts were Indo-European, but Gimbutas sees this as an admixture from Pre-Indo-European culture} ...

There can no doubt that matrilineal succession

{p. 349} was the immemorial rule with Celtic speaking peoples.

The Old European survival of matriliny is equally well attested in Scandinavian and German regions. The account given by Tacitus in Germania in the 1st century B.C. says that "the sons of a sister have the same position as regards their uncle as with their father." Researchers agree that Germanic matrilineal social organization inherited from the Old European substratum survived until the historical period. ...

The culture of the Baltic speakers, Prussians, Lithuanians, and Latvians farther east along the Baltic Sea coast is a true blend of Old European and Indo-European social systems and religions. The Indo-European patriarchy is diluted here by Old European elements of matriliny, matrilocality, matricentrality. The Old Prussian term for grandmother was ane (compare with the Old Irish anu or ana for "old hag' and "guardian of the dead"). The important role of the mother's and wife's brother, as well as traces of endogamy and trial marriage, are well attested in Latvian and Lithuanian folklore. The matricentric pantheon of goddesses among the Balts is as strongly preserved as among the Basques. The Slavic culture is equally replete with matricentric elements, with goddesses preserved in Slavic folklore and folk art as they are in the Baltic and Basque cultures.

In conclusion, the sources from Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. to Strabo in the 1st century A.D. speak of: 1) matrilineal structure, inheritance in the female line, successor of the throne in the female line (queenship passed from mother to daughter); 2) endogamy, matrilocal marriage and group marriage combined with common ownership; 3) metronymy (naming through the mother, father not recognized); 4) importance of the queen's brother, no husband (only a consort); 5) the general high status of women, particularly in Minoan and Etruscan societies.


Summing archeological, historical, linguistic, and religious evidence, we visualize Old European society organized around a theacratic, communal temple community, and a higher female status in religious life. This was an endogamous society guided by a highly respected elder - Great Mother of the clan and her brother or uncle, with a council of women as a governing body. The structure was matrilineal, with succession to leadership and inheritance within the female line.

{p. 352} The collapse of Old Europe coincides with the process of Indo-Europeanization of Europe, a complicated transformative process leading to a drastic cultural change reminiscent of the conquest of the American continent. Archeological evidence, supported by comparative Indo-European linguistics and mythology, suggests a clash of two ideologies, social structures and economies perpetrated by trauma-inducing institutions. The Proto- or Early Indo-Europeans, whom I have labeled "Kurgan" people, arrived from the east, from southern Russia, on horseback. Their first contact with the borderland territories of Old Europe in the Lower Dnieper region and west of the Black Sea began around the middle of the 5th millennium B.C. A continuous flow of influences and people into east-central Europe was initiated which lasted for two millennia.

Following this collision of cultures, Old Europe was transformed, and later European prehistory and history became a "marble cake" composed of non-lndo-European and Indo-European elements. The subsequent existence of a very strong non-lndo-European linguistic and mythological substratum cannot be overlooked. To begin to understand this complex situation, it is necessary to start thinking in terms of the social and symbolic structures of cultures.

In this chapter I shall discuss the Kurgan culture of the Volga-Ural and North Pontic regions in relation to Old Europe; its influence on, infiltrations into, and destruction of the floruit of the Old European civilization. Linguistic evidence suggests that the original Indo-European homeland had to be located between the areas occupied by the Finno-Ugric, Semitic, and Caucasian linguistic families. A discussion of this problem is beyond the scope of this book and, in my belief beyond the reach of adequate archeological sources {see however J. P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth}. The materials of the Volga-Ural interfluve and beyond the Caspian Sea prior to the 7th millennium B.C. are, so far, not sufficient for ethnographic interpretation. More substantive evidence emerges only around 5000 B.C. We can begin to speak of "Kurgan people" when they conquered the steppe region north of the Black Sea around 4500 B.C.

The Russian word "kurgan" (itself borrowed from the Turkish) means literally a "barrow" or "tumulus" and the term "Kurgan tradition" was introduced by the author in 1956 as a blanket term for the culture of these seminomadic pastoralists who built round funeral mounds.

No weapons except implements for hunting are found among grave goods in Europe until c. 4500-4300 B.C., nor is there evidence of hilltop fortification of Old European settlements. The gentle agriculturalists, therefore, were easy prey to the warlike Kurgan horsemen who swarmed down upon them. These invaders were armed with thrusting and cutting weapons: long daggerknives, spears, halberds, and bows and arrows.

The Kurgan tradition represents a stark contrast to the civilization of Old Europe which was, in the main, peaceful, sedentary, matrifocal, matrilineal, and sex egalitarian. The Kurgans were a warlike, patriarchal, and hierarchical culture with distinctive burial rites that included pit graves with tent- or hutlike structures of wood or stone, covered by a low cairn or earthen mound. Their economy was essentially pastoral with a rudimentary agriculture and seasonal, transient settlements of semi-subterranean houses. The Kurgan tradition became manifest in Old European territories during three waves of infitration: I at c. 4400-4300 B.C., II at c. 3500 B.C., and III soon after 3000 B.C. This chronology does not represent the evolution of a single group but of a number of various steppe peoples who shared a common tradition, extending over broad temporal and spacial parameters. Kurgan I people were from the Volga steppe; Kurgan II, who were culturally more advanced, developed in the North Pontic area between the Lower Dniester and the Caucasus mountains; Kurgan III people were again from the Volga steppe.

Russian archeologists use the ten "early Yamna" for Kurgan I; "Mikhailovka I" or "Maikop" culture for Kurgan II; and "late Yamna" for Kurgan III. (Yamna comes from yama, "pit," i.e. "pit grave" under a barrow.)

The livelihood and mobility of the Kurgan people depended on the domesticated horse, in sharp contrast to the Old European agriculturalists to whom the horse was unknown. Pastoral economy, growing herds of large animals, horse riding, and the need for male strength to control the animals must have contributed to the transition from matrism to armored patrism in southern Russia and beyond at the latest around 5000 B.C. (Although the accurate date of this process as yet is difficult to establish, it certainly started much earlier than 4000 B.C., the date used for the transition to patrism and violence in Saharasia caused by the pressures of severe desertification; see Demeo 1991.)

{p. 393} The proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture, as reconstructed on the basis of comparative Indo-European linguistics and mythology and supported by early historic records, coincides well with archeological data. In this section I shall touch upon the linguistic and mythological evidence relevant to the question of identity between the Kurgan and proto-Indo-European traditions.

Languages, like cultures, act as living organisms: they constantly change and live through periods of convergence and divergence. Although we cannot go back much further than Volga Neolithic and Eneolithic of the 6th and 5th millennia B.C., we can reconstruct certain characteristics of this culture that are in agreement with linguistic and mythological elements. The period around 5000-4500 B.C. is marked by incessantly growing mobility and trade. I therefore assume the possibility of linguistic consolidation in process at this period, just before the proto-Indo-European outburst into Europe. The hypothetical PIE language does not reflect preagricultural conditions. As linguistically reconstructed, domesticated animals (including the horse), mobility, and the classed patriarchal society, are among the most characteristic phenomena of the PIE culture. The Kurgan culture of the 5th millennium B.C. in the Volga foreststeppe and steppe and its newly acquired territory north of the Black Sea agrees with much that is reconstructed on a linguistic basis as PIE.

Domesticated Animals

Domesticated animals played a paramount role in the PIE culture as shown by the common names for sheep (*owis), cattle (*gwows), steer (*(s)tauro), pig (*sus and *porkos), horse (ekwo-ekwa), goat (*aigis, os), and dog (*kwon-kun-) in most of the Indo-European languages. There is another name for "cows and sheep": *peku(s): Latin pecus, Old Indic pasu, Baltic peku. Since this word has a family of related words connected with

{p. 394} the meaning "fleece," "hair," and "to comb" (Greek pekos, "fleece"; Old High German fahs, "skin hair"; Latin pectere, "to comb"), it is assumed that peku originally connoted a woolly animal, probably a sheep, and that there was a stage when only sheep were domesticated and the other animals were not. ...

Cattle must have been the treasured possession of a family, clan, or tribe and were used in exchange, the trend also attested by words and early historic records. In Sanskrit, the term for lord means "lord of cattle." The earliest written sources, the Iliad and the Rigveda, speak of how a bride or weapons are obtained in exchange for cattle. Cattle (pecus) were the main possession that had the meaning of our word money. Hence, the Latin name for money, pecunia. This role of cattle continued up to the 20th century j(s dowry, for instance, in rural areas). Activities associated with cattle in Indo-European mythic and epic literature very clearly illustrate the importance of cattle raiding. The growth of private ownership derived a powerful impetus from the domestication of cattle.

The name for the domesticated horse is preserved as Latin equos, Gothic aihva-, Lithuanian asva. The PIE form is reconstructed as *ekwos or *ekwa. Comparative Indo-European mythological research indicates the unquestionably prime role of the horse (particularly the white horse) as a sacred and sacrificial animal, the incarnation of divine power of the God of the Shining Sky. Archeology supports the linguistic and mythological evidence for an early date of horse domestication, probably no later than the end of the 6th millennium B.C. The horse was a sacrificial and riding animal and as such was used in warfare from at least the middle of the 5th millennium B.C. The earliest warriors were equipped with spear points, daggers, bows and arrows, and were able to shoot from horseback much like the historic Indo-Europeans, Scythians, Sarmatians, and others. In cult, the horse as a divine and sacrificial animal is attested as early as its known use for riding.


Linguistics has failed to reconstruct a common word for metallurgy. This should not be surprising since the early Kurgans (Kurgan I) did not have this technology. Copper items were introduced to them by the Old Europeans through barter with the Cucutenians. Metallurgy was acquired considerably later, in the second half of the 4th millennium B.C. from Transcaucasia when it was transmitted north of the Black Sea, and with Wave No. 2 to east-central Europe. ...

The mobility of the Kurgans before their infiltration into Europe was probably similar to that of the later inhabitants of the steppe - the Scythians, Sarmatians, and others. Herodotus describes the Scythians as having no permanent structures or crops to defend, free to move about with their wagons, their possessions, and their livestock, and able to elude an enemy or to shoot at him from horseback whenever they chose. Indeed, it was easy for the Kurgans to burn their pit dwellings and set out for the next territory.

Social Structure

The PIE culture, as shown by comparative Indo-European linguistics and historical evidence and supported by archeology, can be described as a patrilineal society under the patriarchal leadership of a warrior chief. Age was

{p. 395} the determining factor for leadership by this chief, who may have played an active role only in times of stress when greater group cohesion was necessary. Exogamous marriage occurred between small, mobile patrilocal families, members of a larger clan or tribe. A separate class of priests is unlikely to have been established by the proto period. Females possessed inferior status, elevated only by association with their male relations. The husband's strong rights over his wife is evidenced by epic songs and legal texts. Under the influence of the Indo-European culture, Neolithic women's influence collapsed and they became private property in the new trading and raiding society. ...

Agrculture and Its Increase in the European Branch

In the Kurgan culture of the steppe, agriculture was secondary to a pastoral economy. However, considerable knowledge of agricultural terminology in the European branch of the Indo-Europeans is suggested by lexical studies. It follows that the increase of agriculture is synchronous with a decrease of nomadism after the incursion of the Kurgan (Maikop) people into Europe, and especially into the territories where agriculture was a millennial tradition.

Some agriculture was practiced by the proto-Indo-Europeans. There are common names for "grain," "grinding' and "quern," "to sow," and "to cut"; and the word for "hoe," mat(e)ya, is widespread. Of great importance is the preservation of the names for millet (*meli, *melyom, *melya) for a lesser kind of wheat or grass, couch grass, sedge, spelt, rye grass: *puras,os; and for cereal used for fermentation and brewing: *yewos, pl. *yewoi. The root yew- is associated with the family of words having the meaning to gush or emanate, boil, ferment, agitate, rouse.

So far only millet has been identified in Kurgan sites of the Dnieper-Volga steppe. There is no trace of einkorn and emmer wheat, barley, oats, or rye, although stone hoes, sickle blades of flint, and quern stones have been found in settlements. Large hoe-like tools known from several settlements are considered to be primitive plowshares. It seems that the Kurgan people in their original home engaged in an extensive form of wild-grass economy. Except for millet, a "ground" cereal; *yewos, a cereal used for fermentation; and *puris, a grass or spelt wheat, there are no other well-attested words for cereals, and there is no archeological evidence for their existence.

Common names for rye, barley, and oats are found only in the European branch of the Indo-European languages. *rughis "rye" is known in Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, and Celtic. The word for "oats" with the root *aw- is known in Slavic, Baltic, and Latin. "Barley" apparently designated "food derived from cereals" as Latin, Germanic, and Slavic forms suggest: Latin far and farina; Old Nardic barr, "barley"; Gothic barizeins, "of barley"; Old Church Slavic brasno, "food"; Serbian brasno, "flour"; and Russian borosno, "rye flour." Some names are common to the Indo-European speakers in southern Europe: beans, peas, vetch, and poppies are attested in Latin, Albanian, and Greek. All of these plants are well known from the Neolithic in southeastern Europe, and it is quite possible that their names

{p. 396} were later inherited by Indo-European speakers. The name for flax, linum, is known in Latin, Greek, Slavic, Baltic, and Germanic. The word for hemp, *kannabis, is preserved in Greek, Albanian, Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic, but is not known among the eastern Indo-European speakers. The above suggest that Indo-European speakers in Europe were acquainted with many cereals and pulses and with flax and hemp. Some of the names are common to a larger group of languages and therefore may hark back in time to the formative period as an after-effect of Wave No. 2, to the second half of the 4th millennium B.C. The pulses were apparently inherited from the Old European population of southeastern Europe. It is clear that the agricultural terminology became enriched as Indo-European speakers moved west.

The Collision of Two Ideologies

The Old European and Indo-European belief systems are ~ diametrically opposed. The Indo-European society was warlike, exogamic, patriarchal, patrilineal, and patrilocal, with a strong clanic organization and social hierarchy which gave prominence to the warrior class. Their main gods were male and depicted as warriors. There is no possibility that this pattern of social organization could have developed out of the Old European matrilineal, matricentric, and endogamic balanced society. Therefore, the appearance of the Indo-Europeans in Europe represent a collision of two ideologies, not an evolution.

The building of temples, a long-lasting tradition of Old Europe, stopped with the Kurgan incursions into Europe, except in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. The masterfully produced religious paraphernalia - beautiful vases, sacrificial containers, models of temples, altars, sculptures, and sacred script - disappeared as well. Not a single temple directly associated with the Kurgan people is known, either in the north Pontic or Volga steppe nor in the Kurgan influenced zone of Europe during and after the migrations. The absence of any temples or even structured altars is consistent with the life of pastoralists.

The New Symbols and Deities of Europe

The Old European worship of the Goddess was partially truncated by Kurgan Wave No. 1 toward the end of the 5th rnillennium B.C. Horse-head scepters and cord-impressed solar motifs on pots appeared in Dobruja and in almost the whole Danube basin, but the Old European religion continued to be practiced in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, in the Cucuteni culture of Moldavia and the western Ukraine, in the TRB of northwestern and central Europe, and in all parts of the western European Neolithic.

A renewed change of symbolism and mythical imagery occurred in the second half of the 4th millennium B.C. Not only did sun and horse symbols appear, but images of male gods with their weapons and animals also emerged. The Goddess religion of the still extant Old European population was subdued. A completely new symbolic system with no roots in Europe is one of the strongest arguments for the presence in central Europe of new lords and their creeds.

The best witness of a new religion in Europe, typified by male gods, weapons, and solar symbols, are engraved stone stelae from the second half of the 4th millennium B.C. found in the Alpine valleys, in Bulgaria, in Romania with close analogs north of the Black Sea, and in the Caucasus. Their symbolism differs sharply from those of the French and Italian statue-menhirs which portray the owl-faced female goddess before she was masculinized in the Bronze Age. The Kurgan stelae display solar symbols and masculine paraphernalia, including daggers, halberds, axes, bows, quivers and arrows, belts, breast plates, double-spiral pendants; male horses, stags, and hegoats; vehicles, and ox teams pulling a plow. (FIGURES 10-41 to 10-44) These are a prime source for the reconstruction of mythical imagery and are a great value in the accurate representation of

{p. 398} hilted daggers, shafted halberds and axes, bows, quivers, vehicles, belts, and breast plates, objects rarely preserved in graves. Double-spiral pendants, breast plates, bronze daggers with triangular blades, flat axes, and flint halberd blades such as appear engraved on stelae are known from depots and graves of the Baden and Remedello (Po River Valley) cultures.

The engravings on stelae reveal a great deal about the new ideology. In fact, they constitute the richest source for the study of the earliest Indo-European symbolism and god images. These symbols are characteristically grouped, making possible the study of their interrelationships. Their consistent association on the roughly anthropomorphic stelae leaves no doubt that the engraved weapons, animals, and solar symbols are linked, that their concurrence is not accidental.

The following symbols are recorded: solar signs (circles, radiating suns, and a circle with groups of long rays) engraved in the area of the head; breast plate ja semicircle of multiple concentric lines!; double-spiral pendant, one or a pair, on the chest or at the solar sign; a circle at either side of the radiating sun; hilted dagger - one, two, five, seven daggers or more - shown in the middle part of the stela; shafted halberd, one or many; shafted axe, one or more; belt of parallel lines (beaded fabric?) or of zigzag or diamond pattern (woven?); four-wheeled vehicle (shown below the belt); bow, quiver, and arrows; footprints; plow pulled by two yoked oxen; horse(s), stag(s)/ and he-goat(s).

The content and association of the symbolic groups are of particular interest. The most frequent are the solar groups: the radiating sun, the circle on either side of the radiating sun, the double spiral pendants, and the breast plate. This group of symbols is further associated with the belt, dagger, halberd, horse, stag, plowing scene, and a vehicle. To the specialist in comparative Indo-European mythology, such combinations of symbols will certainly recall the image of the God of the Shining Sky, who bestows progeny and promotes vegetation. This deity is known in various Indo-European groups from early historic records and is still extant in folklore: the Indic Mitra, Baltic Dievas, Roman Dius Fidius, Janus, and Mars, Celtic Lug (called "Sun faced"), German *Tiwaz (from *deiuos), Anglo Saxon Tiw, German Ziu, Icelandic Tyr, northwestern Slavic Jarovit-Sventovit, and others. This god is associated with morning and daylight, and with the spring, summer, autumn, and winter sun. His powers are transmitted by his weapon, the dagger (or sword, later in prehistory and early history); by his animals, the stag and horse; and by the shining vehicle in which he travels. As protector of vegetation, particularly of the grain, he is associated with his pair of oxen and with plowing.

Other compositions and groupings represent other Indo-European deities. The axe is connected with the Thunder God; the club, bow, quiver, and arrows are also his. (FIGURES 10-45, 10-46)

Present knowledge of stelae would indicate that the majority represent the God of the Shining Sky. In Indo-European mythology, the image of this god is linked with kingship. The erection of stelae, therefore, may have marked the death of important personages, either chieftains or fallen heroes; a hero may substitute for a god and his weapons became divine. The second of importance was the Thunder God, the hunter and warrior, fighting with the evil and adversary of the God of Death and Underworld, the purifier and fructifier of earth. This god is best preserved in all Indo-European mythoiogies. The representations of male gods on stelae are quite overwhelmingly Indo-European.

The Contrasting Sets of Goddesses and Gods

The main theme of Old European goddess symbolism is the cyclic mystery of birth, death, and the renewal of life, involving not only human life but all life on earth. Symbols and images cluster around the parthenogenetic (selfgenerating) Goddess who is the single source of all life. Her energy is manifest in springs and wells, in the moon, sun, and earth, and in all animals and plants. She is the Giver-of-Life, Wielder-of-Death, Regeneratrix, and the Earth Fertility Goddess, rising and dying with the plants. Male gods also exist, not as creators but as guardians of wild nature, or as metaphors of life energy and the spirits of seasonal vegetation.

The proto-Indo-European pantheon of gods was a socially and economically oriented ideology. This system was well suited to a pastoralist/mixed farming economy with prominent sovereign and warrior classes which had mastered the horse and weapons of war. The life-creating and death-wielding functions belonged to the principal male gods who also rode horses and brandished weapons. Female goddesses, like the Dawn and Sun Maiden, were not creatrixes but were simply brides or wives of male deities. This religion was oriented toward the rotating sun and other sky phenomena such as thunder and lightning. Their sky gods shone as "bright as the sky" and, in Bronze Age representations, carried shining weapons - daggers, swords, and shields - and were adorned with copper or gold chest plates, gold or amber discs, and copper-plated belts. The Indo-Europeans worshiped the swiftness of arrow and spear and the sharpness of the blade. The touch of the axe blade was thought to awaken the powers of nature and transmit the fecundity of the Thunder God. The frightening black God of Death and the Underworld marked the warrior for death with the touch of his spear tip, glorifying him as a fallen hero.

Differing Beliefs in an Afterlife

These two systems exhibit very different sets of beliefs concerning an afterlife. The Old Europeans had a strong belief in cyclic regeneration in which the main idea in grave architecture is "tomb is womb." Graves are egg shaped, uterus shaped, or anthropomorphic, the latter being conceived as the body of the Goddess. The generative triangle also figures in grave and shrine outlines and architecture. Engravings on stones of megalithic graves are symbols of regeneration, life-giving water and life energy (cupmarks, concentric circles with cen-

{p. 400} tral dot, concentric arcs, winding snakes snake coils, bull heads as uteri, triangles lozenges, hourglass shapes, zigzags lunar cycles); or images of the Goddess of Regeneration herself engraved with labyrinths, vulvas, and breasts. It was thought that the afterworld was in the West, and that a barrier of water existed between this world and the next that was crossed by ships, themselves symbols of regeneration.

Communal burials were a typical Old European practice. The megaliths of western Europe were sacred centers of the community, and the burial of defleshed bones to these central shrines meant a return to the ancestors. Furthermore, the bones were compared to seed which produced rebirth. Indeed, all Old European burials were, in various forms, a return to the body of the Mother for regeneration within the womb of nature.

The Indo-Europeans believed in a linear continuity of the individual from this world into another "life" in the world of the dead. Therefore, mortuary houses were built in which the dead took their belongings - tools, weapons, and ornaments that represented their rank - to the afterworld. Royal tombs and those of other important members of the society were lavishly equipped, providing the dead with status. Death in battle was particularly glorified. Kings and chieftains were often buried with their entire households - wives, servants, children - and animals, including horses, teams of oxen, and dogs. Gifts of food continued to be made after the funeral, considered necessary for the well-being of the shades.

From comparative Indo-European mythologies and beliefs we know that the world of the dead was imagined as a cold, swampy, underground realm ruled by the sovereign male god. The journey to the gloomy underworld involved a road or a river, usually a three-day period of walking, riding, or travel in chariots. Souls drifted there in a pale and passive manner, and there was no belief in the possibility of rebirth. These radically different beliefs could not have developed from the Old Europeans. With the formation of the Baden-Ezero culture in east-central Europe and

{p. 401} the Globular Amphora culture in northern central Europe in the second half of the 4th millennium BC., the Indo-European mode of burial and beliefs in the other world took root in Europe and gradually replaced the burials of the Old European type.

The Contrast Between Old European and Indo-European Symbols

The analysis of Old European and Indo-European symbols shows that these two religions and mythologies had entirely different sets of symbols which are still extant today in the mythologies and folklore of Europe. ...


East-central Europe in the period of 4500-2500 B.C. was in a constant state of transformation, due to repeated Kurgan incursions from the Volga and North Pontic steppe zone.

There were several major stages of changing ethnic configurations.

1. Around 4300 B.C., horse-riding pastoralists from south Russia (Wave No. 1) created the first shock wave and population shifts in the Danube basin. The flowering of Old Europe was truncated and the hybridization of two very different culture systems began. Most affected were the Black Sea littoral (Varna), Karanovo-Gumelnita, Vinca, Lengyel, and LBK cultures. The Cucuteni culture survived. In the west, signs of Kurgan I elements (single burials under round mounds) appeared in England and in eastern Ireland before 3500 B.C.

2. In the second half of the 4th millennium B.C., from the North Pontic-North Caucasus region, strong influences increased the transformation of central Europe. The conversion of what was still Old European into an Indo-European social structure and ideology iwas remarkably successful. Central Europe was now ruled from hill forts and by daggers made of hard metal (copper-arsenic alloy). The transition from a matricentric and matrilineal to a patrilineal and patriarchal system was in process.

3. The massive Kurgan Wave No. 3, from the lower Volga region after 3000 B.C. into east-central Europe, caused new ethnic shifts. The Indo-Europeanized populations of central Europe migrated northeast to East Baltic and central Russia, northwest to southern Scandinavia, and south to Greece (Corded Pottery and Vucedol extensions).

4. The warlike and horse-riding Bell Beaker people of the middle and second half of the 3rd millennium B.C., who diffused over western Europe, are likely to have originated from an amalgam of remnants of the Vucedol people with the Yamna colonists (after Wave No. 3) in Yugoslavia and Hungary. Their parent culture is called Vinkovci-Samogyvar. This was the largest and last outmigration, from east-central Europe into western Europe, up to the west Mediterranean and the British Isles, before the onset of a more stable period, and the formations of Bronze Age cultural units.

By the third quarter of the 3rd millennium B.C., almost all parts of Old Europe were transformed economically and socially. Pastoralism and seminomadism increased and tillage decreased. Old European patterns of habitation vanished except for territories and islands which were never completely Indo-Europeanized. The Indo-European religion became official, but the Old European Goddess religion was carried on to the present day through fragments of Old European culture.

The functions and images of Old European and Indo-European deities, beliefs in an afterlife, and the entirely different sets of symbols prove the existence of two contrasting religions and mythologies. Their collision in Europe resulted in the hybridization of two symbolic structures in which the Indo-European prevailed while the Old European survived as an undercurrent. Without this insight into different symbolic structures, the ideologies of European peoples and the genesis and meaning of their symbols, beliefs, and myths cannot be comprehended.

The clash between these two ideologies and social and economic structures led to the drastic transformation of Old Europe. These changes were expressed as the transition from matrilineal to patrilineal order, from a learned theacracy to a militant patriarchy, from a sexually balanced society to a male dominated hierarchy, and from a chthonic goddess religion to the Indo-European sky-oriented pantheon of gods.

{end of selections}

(5) Cyrus H. Gordon on the Aryan Invasions

Cyrus H. Gordon wrote in his book Before the Bible: the Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilisations (Collins, London 1962):

{p. 25} The influx of Indo-European immigrants into the Near East during the second millennium B.C. revolutionised the art of war. The newcomers introduced the horse-drawn war-chariot, which gave a swift striking power hitherto unknown in the Near East.

{p. 26} The elite charioteer officers, who bear the Indo-European name of maryannu, soon became a new aristocracy throughout the entire area, including Egypt. With them appears also a new type of royal epic, which we may call the Indo-European War Epic. Embedded in it is a motif that has become commonplace in world literature: the Helen of Troy theme, whereby a hero loses his destined bride and must wage a war to win her back. Greek and Indic epic illustrate this theme {The Indian one is the Ramayana}, and it is from the Iliad that it has become popular in the modern West. However, it is completely absent from the romantic literatures of early Mesopotamia and Egypt, and it appears in the Semitic World only in the wake of the Indo-Europeans with their maryannu aristocracy. The Helen of Troy theme first appears at Ugarit of the Amarna Age, in a community where the Indo-European elements are present, including a firmly entrenched organisation of maryannu. As we shall note later, the theme permeates the early traditions of Israel, particularly the saga of Abraham. {endquote}

Cyrus H. Gordon on the East Mediterranean Culture Common to Greek and Hebrew Civilisations: gordon.html.

(6) Martin Bernal on the Aryan Invasions,in Black Athena

Bernal, despite his pugnacious style, is surely right when he writes, in Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization Volume II The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence (Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick NJ, 1991):

{p. 321} Interest in the Hurrians and their kingdom of Mitanni, which flourished in Northern Mesopotamia and Eastern Syria in the middle of the second millenium, became still more intense when it was discovered that the Mitanni swore by Indian gods, some of their kings had Aryan Indian names and, even more sensationally, some of their charioteering terms - the Mitanni were famous for their horses and chariots - were found to be very close to those in Sanskrit. The most plausible explanation of this situation was to suppose that speakers of Indo-Aryan, that is to say of the Indo-Iranian language that resembled Indian not Iranian, had conquered the Hurrians and retained

{p. 322} a dominance over Hurrian society, which gave the latter the dynamism to sweep through Southwest Asia.

This view was widely stated, especially by Indo-Europeanists and general historians of the ancient world. But it was resisted by some archaeologists of Palestine and by many Egyptologists. These could not see archaeological evidence of a 'northern' presence in either Palestine or Egypt at this time. They also seem to have had the professional dislike of sensational or widespread events, and to have disliked outside intervention in their academic provinces. What is more, as anti-Semitism became more virulent in the 1920s and 1930s, many liberal scholars hated the ideological implications and uses of such an historical scheme.

This 'professional-liberal' current of thought became dominant in the anti-racialist atmosphere after the Second World War. After 1950, the Hyksos 'invasion' was generally demoted to a slow and undramatic infiltration of Semitic speakers, who had had the collaboration of many Egyptians. One of the most effective ways of discrediting the old Hurrian hypothesis was to use the generally accepted middle or low chronologies for Mesopotamian history to show that, as there were no Hurrian movements in Northern Mesopotamia until the late 17th century BC, Hurrians could hardly have been involved much farther south in Egypt a hundred years earlier. However, the acceptance of the 'long' or high chronology for Mesopotamia removes this objection to the Hurrian hypothesis.

Hurrians and Indo-Aryans have also been linked to the development and use of the light war chariot, and diffusionists have tended to see this as the secret of their military success. This seemed plausible as there is little or no trace of horses and chariots in Middle Kingdom Egypt, while they played an important role in the 15th and later Dynasties. Against this attempt to link the Hurrians and Hyksos scholars were able to argue, until recently, that, as chariots were first mentioned in Egypt at the end of the Hyksos period, there is no reason to suppose that they had been present at its beginning. In the 1960s, however, horses or at least 'equids' were found buried in association with Hyksos graves dating from the second half of the 18th century BC. Thus, there would seem no reason to deny the inherently plausible notion that horses and chariots came in with the Hyksos, and that the Hyksos 'invasion' was directly or indirectly connected to the Hurrian expansion and further that there may have been Indo-Aryan speakers involved in the movement.

All this looks disturbingly like the Aryanist or even Nazi image of the Indo-Europeans as a 'master race'. However, I am convinced that

{p. 323} one should clearly distinguish between what one likes and what is likely. I argued in Volume I that the fact that arguments suit or are even created for distasteful or immoral reasons does not in itself falsify them. Here, as in Northern India but unlike in Ancient Greece, there seems to be a case where the Aryan Model works.

However, 'works' is a relative term: the importance of the presence of any Hurrians and Indo-Aryans in the Hyksos migration seems to have been largely confined to military technology; the Huns had no long-term influence on Europe and the Turks who formed the core of the Moghuls in India left virtually no trace there. What these far-ranging movements did achieve was the breakdown of existing political structures and the mixing of neighbouring cultures - German language and 'culture' entered the Western Roman Empire and Persian civilization came into India. Similarly, the material and linguistic culture introduced by the Hyksos into Egypt seems to have been overwhelmingly that of the neighbouring Canaanites and it was this Egypto-Levantine civilization with some 'barbaric' elements that dominated Lower Egypt between 1750 and 1570 BC.

{p. 522} There would seem to be an extreme paradox here, as the main thrust of my whole project has been against the influence of racism and anti-Semitism on scholarship. Yet in this volume I have frequently found myself championing the views of scholars working at the high tide of racism 1880-1940, though it must be said that these are generally on issues in which racism is not directly involved.

These are also issues where the conclusions of the older generation of scholars fit better with the results of modern scientific techniques than do the views of contemporary scholars. To take two instances discussed in this volume, lead isotope analysis shows that lead from Cen-

{p. 523} tral Europe was being used in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC. This is exactly what Gordon Childe would have expected, as he believed that Sumerian prospectors had gone up the Danube at this period. Similarly, the latest radio-carbon datings put the beginning of the Egyptian Old Kingdom to around 3000 BC, which fits the chronology of James Breasted, but that is far earlier than any accepted by conventional wisdom today.

I believe that this pattern is not the result of random coincidence and that the modern archaeologists have been led astray for reasons that can be relatively easily explained in terms of the sociology of knowledge. Firstly, there has been the turn away from diffusionism. As I argued in Volume I, I believe that on one level this represents an admirable rejection of the uses of diffusionism to justify imperialism and colonialism. However, it also indicates the desire of new professionals to appear sober and responsible and not indulge in the spectacular theories to which amateurs are so attracted.

This is connected the second tendency that appears to have misled modern scholarship. In a surprisingly large number of areas of Western ancient history, there was no great increase of information between 1920 and 1960. This period was one in which there was a powerful drive among archaeologists to acquire 'scientific' status. This in turn produced a double effect. In the first place, archaeologists wanted, above all, to avoid being considered as speculative and irresponsible. However, they also needed to show that the discipline was progressing and innovative. Thus, the only alterations they could make were those that demonstrated their greater scepticism and caution. For this reason all 'progress' in these disciplines since 1920 has tended to restrict the geographical scope and lower the historical dating of ancient activities. Recent evidence from scientific techniques, however, points in precisely the opposite direction and this has led to the paradoxical situation that the archaeologists who have proclaimed their scientific status most loudly are in the greatest conflict with the results of the new scientific techniques when applied to archaeology. What is more, the results of the new techniques often fit better with the ideas of earlier or more conservative scholars.

Thus, a number of the controversial ideas in this volume are only 'outrageous' in the light of modern conventional wisdom. An example of this comes in the attempt I make in Chapter I to reverse the present isolationist current among archaeologists with a return to modified diffusionism, and in particular to the belief that early European Bronze Age civilization derived in some way from the still earlier metalworking cultures of Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa. If I am right here, it means that the sustained attack on the posi-

{p. 524} tions of the early 20th-century archaeologists Oscar Montelius and Gordon Childe launched by Colin Renfrew and his colleagues has not merely been a complete waste of time but has been positively harmful to our understanding of the origins of Greek civilization. I also go beyond Montelius and Childe by arguing that Crete and possibly the Cyclades may well have become Semitic-speaking at this time.

{end of quotes}

Martin Bernal equates the Exodus with the Expulsion of the Hyksos: archaeology-bible.html.

Martin Bernal puts the case for African/Semitic influence on the formation of Greek culture and institutions: diop.html.

(7) A.L. Basham on the Aryan Invasions, in The Wonder That Was India

A. L. Basham wrote in The Wonder That Was India (Grove Press, New York, 1959):

{p. 22} The men wore robes which left one shoulder bare, and the garments of the upper classes were often richly patterned. Beards were worn, and men and women alike had long hair. The elaborate headdresses of the Mother Goddess figures probably had their counterparts in the festive attire of the richer women. The goddesses often wear only a very short skirt, but on one seal women, perhaps priestesses, are depicted with longer skirts, reaching to just below the knee. The coiffures of the women were often elaborate, and pigtails were also popular, as in present-day lndia. Women loved jewellery, and wore heavy bangles in profusion, large necklaces, and earrings.

As far as we can reconstruct it from our fragmentary knowledge, the religion of the Harappa people had some features suggesting those characteristics of later Hinduism which are not to be found in the earliest stratum of Indian religious literature. The Mother Goddess, for instance, reappears only after the lapse of over a thousand years from the fall of Harappa. As already stated she was evidently the divinity of the people, and the upper classes seem to have preferred a god, who also shows features found in later Hinduism. As well as the figurines already mentioned, which may represent divinities, there are a few in terracotta of bearded nude men with coiled hair; their posture, rigidly upright, with the legs slightly apart, and the arms held parallel to the sides of the body, but not touching it, closely resembles the stance called by the Jainas ka-yot- sarga, in which meditating teachers are often portrayed in later times; the repetition of this figure, in exactly the same posture, would suggest that he was a god. A terracotta mask of a horned deity has also been found.

The most striking deity of the Harappa culture is the horned god of the seals (pl. IXc). He is depicted on three specimens, in two

{p. 23} seated on a stool or small dais, and in the third on the ground in all three his posture is one well known to later Indian holy men, with the legs drawn up close to the body and the two heels touching, a position quite impossible to the average European without much practice. The god's body is nude, except for many bangles and what appear to be necklaces, and he wears a peculiar head-dress, consisting of a pair of horns, which may have been thought of as growing from his head, with a plant-like object hetween them. On the largest of the seals he is surrounded by four wild animals, an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros and a buffalo, and beneath his stool are two deer, as in the representations of the Buddha preaching his first sermon in the Deer-park at Banaras. The animals, the plant-like growth from the head, and the fact that he is ithyphallic, indicate that he is a fer- tility god. His face has a fierce tigerish aspect, and one authority has suggested that it is not meant to be human; to the right and left of the head are small protuberances which were believed by Sir John Marshall to represent a second and third face on either side. Marshall boldly called this god Proto-Siva, and the name has been generally accepted; certainly the horned god has much in common with the Siva of later Hinduism, who is, in his most important aspect, a fertility deity, is known as Pasupati, the Lord of Beasts, and is sometimes depicted with three faces.

Sacred animals played a big part in the religion of the Indus people. Though all the animals shown on the seals rnay not have been particularly sacred, the bull occurs in contexts which prove that he at least was so; on many seals he stands before a peculiar object which is evidently not a manger, and has no utilitarian purpose, but is a "cult object", probably a table on which corn was grown for fertility rites. On some seals small lines emerge from the table, which may represent the growing corn, no doubt eaten by the sacred bull as part of the ceremony. The bull is usually depicted with a single horn, and has sornetimes been referred to as a unicorn, though there is little doubt that the artist was trying to portray a normal bull, whose second horn was concealed by the first. In Hinduism the bull is specially associated with the god Siva, but he does not seem to have been connected with the "Proto-Siva" of Harappa, for he is not among the animals surrounding the god on the famous seal*. The cow, so revered in later Hinduism, is nowhere depicted.

Certain trees were sacred, as they are in Hinduism today, notably the pipal, which is specially honoured by Buddhists as the species under which the Buddha found enlightenment. One very interesting seal (pl. IXd) depicts a horned goddess in a pipal tree, worshipped

* The horns of the " Proto-Siva " are evidently those of a buffalo.

{p. 24} by a figure also wearing horns, with a human-headed goat watching the ceremony and a row of seven pigtailed women, probably priestesses, in attendance. One of the few traces of Sumerian contact is to be found in the seal showing a hero grappling with two tigers (pl. IXe) - a variant of a famous Mesopotamian motif in which the hero Gilgamesh is depicted fighting two lions. The rotund face of the hero, and the peculiar treatment of his hair, suggest that he represents the sun, and that the night-prowling tigers are the powers of darkness.

Phallic worship was an important element of Harappa religion. Many cone-shaped objects have been found, which are almost certainly formalized representations of the phallus. The linga or phallic emblem in later Hinduism is the symbol of the god Siva, who is more commonly worshipped thus than as an icon; it is a fair inference that these objects were connected with the ithyphallic "Proto-Siva" of the seals. It has been suggested that certain large ring-shaped stones are formalized representations of the female generative organ and were symbols of the Mother Goddess, but this is most doubtful.

Until Sir Mortimer Wheeler's work at Harappa in 1946 nothing was known with certainty of the way in which these people disposed of their dead; but from a cemetery then discovered, containing at least 57 graves, it appears that burial was the usual rite. The whole cemetery has not been excavated and the evidence is not yet fully assessed, but it is clear that the dead were buried in an extended posture with pottery vessels and personal ornaments.

Who were the people who built this great civilization? Some Indian historians have tried to prove that they were the Aryans, the people who composed the Rg Veda, but this is quite impossible. From the skeletal remains so far examined it appears that some of the Harappans were people of the long-headed, narrow-nosed, slender Mediterranean type, found all over the ancient Middle East and in Egypt, and forming an important element of the Indian population at the present day. A second element was the Proto-Australoid, with flat nose and thick lips, related to the Australian aborigines and to some of the wild hill-tribes of modern India. A single skull of Mongolian type has been found, and one of the short-headed Alpine type. The bearded steatite head to wllich we have referred shows elements of both the latter types, while the bronze dancing girl seems certainly Proto-Australoid. Then as now, N.-W. India was the meeting-place of many races.

The modern South Indian is usually a blend of Mediterranean and Proto-Australoid, the two chief factors in the Harappa culture;

{p. 25} moreover the Harappa religion seems to show many similarities with those elements of Hinduism which are specially popular in the Dravidian country. In the hills of Baluchistan, where the people of the Nal and Zhob Cultures built their little villages, the Brahuls, though ethnically now predominantly Iranian, speak a Dravidian language. Thus it has been suggested that the Harappa folk were Dravidians, and Father H. Heras, one of the authorities who have tried to read their script, has even claimed that their language was a very primitive form of Tamil.

It might be suggested that the Harappa people consisted of a Proto-Australoid element, which at one time may have covered the whole of India, overlaid by a Mediterranean one, which entered India at a very early period, bringing with it the elements of civilization. Later, under the pressure of further invasions, this Mediterranean element spread throughout the sub-continent, and, again mixing with the indigenous peoples, formed the Dravidians. The chief objection to this theory is that the megaliths erected by the early Dravidians in South India have been shown to be not very ancient; a recent theory even holds that the Dravidians came to India from the west by sea as late as the second half of the 1st millennium B.C. We can only say with certainty that some of the inhabitants of the Indus cities were of a type widely found further to the west, and that their descendants must survive in the present-day population of India.

There is no archaeogical evidence of cities of the Harappa people beyond the Indus basin, but small outposts existed in Kathiawar; yet it does not follow that the rest of India was wholly ignorant of the Harappa culture. Certain finds of copper implements in the district of Ranchl (S. Bihar) suggest that the peoples of North India learnt the use of metal from Harappa, for the blades are without the strengthening midrib; but the dating of these objects is very uncertain, and they may be much later than the fall of Harappa.

Whatever the case may be, pre-Aryan India made certain advances in husbandry for which the whole world owes her a debt. Cotton was to the best of our knowledge first used by the Harappa people. Rice was not one of their staple crops, nor was it grown in neolithic China, whose main food crop was millet. Wild rice is known in Eastern India, and it is here, in the swampy Ganges Valley, that it was probably first cultivated by the neolithic contemporaries of the Harappa people. The water buffalo, known to the Harappa people, was a comparatively late arrival in China, and it may have been first domesticated in the Gangetic Plain, though some authorities believe that it originated in the Philippine Islands.

{p. 26} Perhaps the most widely appreciated of prehistoric India's gifts to the world is the domestic fowl. Ornithologists are agreed that all domestic species descend from the wild Indian jungle fowl. The Harappa people knew the domestic fowl, though its remains are few and it is not depicted on the seals. It was probably first tamed by neolithic Indians in the Ganges Valley, whence it found its way by the Burma route to China, where it appears in the middle of the 2nd millennium. The Egyptians knew it at about the same time, as a rare luxury bird. Clearly India, even at this remote period, was not wholly cut off from the rest of the world.


When Harappa was first built the citadel was defended by a great turreted wall, 40 feet wide at the base and 35 feet high. In the course of the centuries this wall was refaced more strongly than before, though there is no evidence that the city was dangerously threatened by enemies. But towards the end of Harappa's existence its defences were further strengthened, and one gateway was wholly blocked. Danger threatened from the west.

First to suffer were the Baluchistan villages. The earliest level of the site of Rana Ghundal shows that bands of horse-riding invaders were present in the region before 2000 B.C., but they soon disappeared, to give way to the peasant culture which occupied the site in the 3rd millennium and was contemporary with the Indus cities. Then, in 2000 B.C. or a little later, the village was burnt, and a new, coarser type of pottery appears - evidently invaders had occupied the site. Soon afterwards came other invaders, using unpainted encrusted pottery. Similar though less complete evidence appears in other North Baluchistan sites, while in South Baluchistan an intrusive culture founded a settlement at Shahl Tump, not far from Sutkagen Dor, which was the Harappa Culture's most westerly outpost. The Shahl Tump people used the shaft-hole axe and round copper seals, and replaced the earlier local culture, known to archeologists as the Kulli Culture. In the last phase of the life of Mohenjo Daro painted pottery and stone vessels resembling those of Baluchistan appear, and this may indicate a large influx of Kulli refugees, who brought their crafts with them.

After the barbarians had conquered the outlying villages the ancient laws and rigid organization of the Indus cities must have suffered great strain. At Mohenjo Daro large rooms were divided into smaller, and mansions became tenements; potters' kilns were built within the city boundaries, and one even in the middle of a street.

{p. 27} The street plan was no longer maintained. Hoards of jewellery were buried. Evidently the city was overpopulated and law and order were less well maintained, perhaps because the barbarians were already ranging the provinces and the city was full of newcomers, whom the city fathers could not force into the age-old pattern of the city's culture.

When the end came it would seem that most of the citizens of Mohenjo Daro had fled; but a group of huddled skeletons in one of the houses and one skeleton of a woman lying on the steps of a well suggest that a few stragglers were overtaken by the invaders. In this level a fine copper axe has been found, with a very strong shaft-hole and an adze blade opposite that of the axe - a beautiful tool, adapted both for war and peace, and superior to anything the Harappa people possessed (fig. v). Swords with strengthening midribs also make their appearance. A single pot burial of a man of somewhat Mongol type may be that of one of the invaders.

From Harappa comes evidence of a different kind. Here, near the older cemetery of interments, is another cemetery on a higher level, containing fractional burials in pots of men with short-headed Armenoid skulls. A skull of similar type was buried in the citadel itself. At Chanhu Daro, on the lower Indus, the Harappa people were replaced by squatters, living in small huts with fireplaces, an innovation which suggests that they came from a colder climate. These people, though unsophisticated in many respects, had superior tools and weapons. Similar settlements were made in Baluchistan at about the same time. Among the scanty remains of these invaders there is clear evidence of the presence of the horse. The Indus cities fell to barbarians who triumphed not only through greater military prowess, but also because they were equipped with better weapons, and had learnt to make full use of the swift and terror-striking beast of the steppes.

The date of these great events can only be fixed very approximately from synchronisms with the Middle East. Sporadic traces of contact can be found between the Indus cities and Sumeria, and there is some reason to believe that these contacts continued under the First

{p. 28} Dynasty of Babylon, which produced the great lawgiver Hammurabi. This dynasty was also overwhelmed by barbarians, the Kassites, who came from the hills of Iran and conquered by virtue of their horse-drawn chariots. After the Kassite invasion no trace of contact with the Indus can be found in Mesopotamia, and it is therefore likely that the Indus cities fell at about the same time as the dynasty of Hammurabi. Earlier authorities placed the latter event in the first centuries of the 2nd millennium B.C., but new evidence, which appeared shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, has resulted in a revised chronology. The fall of the First Babylonian Dynasty is now thought to have taken place about 1600 B.C.

The earliest Indian literary source we possess is the Rg Yeda, most of which was composed in the second half of the 2nd millennium. It is evidently the work of an invading people, who have not yet fully subjugated the original inhabitants of N.-W. India. In his great report on the excavations at Mohenjo Daro, Sir John Marshall maintained that some two centuries or more elapsed between the fall of the Indus cities and the invasion of the Aryans; but the more recent excavations at Harappa and elsewhere, the revision of the chronology of Babylon, and indications in the Rg Yeda itself, have all tended to reduce the gap. Many competent authorities, led by Sir R. Mortimer Wheeler, now believe that Harappa was overthrown by the Aryans. It is suggested that the interments in the later cemetery at Harappa are those of "true Vedic Aryans", and that the forts or citadels which the Vedic war-god Indra is said to have destroyed included Harappa in their number.

There is not enough evidence to say with certainty that the destroyers of the Indus cities were members of the group of related tribes whose priests composed the Rg Yeda, but it is probable that the fall of this great civilization was an episode in the movement of charioteering peoples which altered the face of the whole civilized world in the 2nd millennium B.C,


The invaders of India called themselves Aryas, a word generally anglicized into Aryans. The name was also used by the ancient Persians, and survives in the word Iran, while Eire, the name of the most westerly land reached by Indo-European peoples in ancient times, is also cognate. Here we cannot discuss the main theories on the origin of these people, but can only give that which seems to us most reasonable, and which, we believe, would be accepted bv a majority of those who specialize in the subject.

{p. 29} About 2000 B.C. the great steppeland which stretches from Poland to Central Asia was inhabited by semi-nomadic barbarians, who were tall, comparatively fair, and mostly long-headed {looking on the skull from above}. They had tamed the horse, which they harnessed to light chariots with spoked wheels, of a much faster and better type than the lumbering ass-drawn cars with four solid wheels which were the best means of transport known to contemporary Sumer. They were mainly pastoral, but practised a little agriculture. Though they may never have come into direct contact with the Sumerians, they had adopted some Mesopotamian innovations, notably the shaft-hole axe. In the early part of the 2nd millennium, whether from pressure of population, dessication of pasture lands, or from both causes, these people were on the move. They migrated in bands westwards, southwards and eastwards, conquering local populations, and intermarrying with them to form a ruling class. They brought with them their patrilinear tribal organization, their worship of sky gods, and their horses and chariots. In most of the lands in which they settled their original language gradually adapted itself to the tongues of the conquered peoples. Some invaded Europe, to become the ancestors of the Greeks, Latins, Celts and Teutons, while others appeared in Anatolia, and from the mixture of these with the original inhabitants the great empire of the Hittites grew up. Yet others remained in their old home, the ancestors of the later Baltic and Slavonic peoples, while others moved southwards and, from the Caucasus and the Iranian tableland, led many attacks on the Middle Eastern civilizations. The Kassites, who conquered Babylon, were led by men of this stock. In the 14th century B.C. there appeared in N.-E. Syria a people called Mitanni, whose kings had Indo-Iranian names, and a few of whose gods are familiar to every student of Indian religion: Indara, Uruvna (the Vedic god Varuna), Mitira, and Nasatiya. As well as the Mitanni other chiefs in Syria and Palestine had names of Indo-Iranian type.

The marauding tribesmen gradually merged with the older populations of the Middle East, and the ancient civilizations, invigorated by fresh blood and ideas, rose to new heights of material culture; the peaceful and conservative cities of the Indus valley could neither withstand nor absorb the invaders. The culture which was to succeed that of Harappa was, as we shall see, diametrically opposed to its predecessor. Only after many centuries did some elements of the older civilization, kept alive no doubt by the poorer people and serfs, begin to influence the conquerors.

The Aryan invasion of India was not a single concerted action, but one covering centuries and involving many tribes, perhaps not all

{p. 30} of the same race and language. It seems certain that many of the old village cultures of the western hills were destroyed before the cities of the Indus Valley, but otherwise the course of Aryan expansion cannot be plotted, owing to the paucity of material remains. Evidently the invaders did not take to living in cities, and after the fall of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro the Panjab and Sind became a land of little villages, with buildings of wood and reed the remains of which have long since perished. For over a thousand years from the fall of Harappa India is almost an archological blank, which at present can only be filled by literary sources.


Among the many peoples who entered India in the 2nd millennium B.C. was a group of related tribes whose priests had perfected a very advanced poetic technique, which they used for the composition of hymns to be sung in praise of their gods at sacrifices. These tribes, chief of which was that of the Bharatas, settled mainly in East Panjab and in the region between the Satlaj and the Jamna which later became known as Brahmavarta. The hymns composed by their priests in their new home were carefully handed down by word of mouth, and early in the 1st millennium B.C. were collected and arranged. They were still not committed to writing, but by now they were looked on as so sacred that even minor alterations in their text were not permitted, and the priestly schools which preserved them devised the most remarkable and effective system of checks and counter checks to ensure their purity. Even when the art of writing was widely known in India the hymns were rarely written, but, thanks to the brilliant feats of memory of many generations of brahmans, and the extreme sanctity which the hymns were thought to possess, they have survived to the present day in a form which, from internal evidence, appears not to have been seriously tampered with for nearly three thousand years. This great collection of hymns is the Rg Yeda, still in theory the most sacred of the numerous sacred texts of the Hindus.

The period of the Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanisads is a sort of transition from prehistory to history. If history, as distinct from archaology, is the study of the human past from written sources, then India's history begins with the Aryans. The Rg Yeda, and the great body of oral religious literature which followed it in the first half of the 1st millennium B.C., are part of the living Hindu tradition. The Vedic hymns are still recited at weddings and funerals, and in the daily devotions of the brahman.. Thus they are part of

{p. 31} historical India, and do not belong to her buried prehistoric past. But they tell us little about the great events of the time, except in irritatingly vague incidental references; even on social conditions their information is scant; only on religion and thought is the his- torian more fully informed.

Yet from the hymns of the Rg and Atharva Vedas, the sacrificial instructions of the Brahmanas, and the mysticism of the Upanisads, the outlines of a culture emerge, though often all too vaguely, and here and there we see the faint wraiths of great sages and tribal leaders, whose importance for their times was such that their names were recorded in sacred literature. Around these phantoms later tradition draped a glittering mantle of legend, legend in which many Indians still implicitly believe, and which, in other contexts, is exceedingly important. But when the mantles are removed only vague shadows remain, little more than the names of chieftains who three thousand years ago waged successful war against their enemies. For the period before the time of the Buddha we can only trace the general character of the civilization which produced the Vedic literature and give a brief and tentative sketch of its expansion.


No real synchronisms are contained in the Rg Veda itself, to give us any certain information on the date of its composition. Some authorities in the past claimed an exceedingly early date for it, on the basis of tradition and ambiguous astronomical references in the hymns themselves - it was even believed by one very respected Indian scholar that it was as old as 6000 B.C. The discovery of the Indus cities, which have nothing in common with the culture described in the Veda and are evidently pre-Vedic, proves that the hymns cannot have been composed before the end of Harappa. The great development in culture, religion and language which is evident in the later Vedic literature shows that a long period must have elapsed between the time of the composition of the last hymns of the Rg Veda and the days of the Buddha - perhaps as much as 500 years. It is therefore probable that most of the Rg Veda was composed between 1500 and 1000 B.C., though the composition of some of the most recent hymns and the collation of the whole collection may have taken place a century or two later.

When the hymns were written the focus of Aryan culture was the region between the Jamna (Sanskrit Yamuna) and Satlaj (Sutudri), south of the modern Ambala, and along the upper course of the river

{p. 32} Sarasvati. The latter river is now an insignificant stream, losing itself in the desert of Rajasthan, but it then flowed broad and strong, and probably joined the Indus below the confluence of the Satlaj. The Vedic poets knew the Himilayas, but not the land south of the Jamna, and they did not mention the Vindhyas. To the east the Aryans had not expanded far beyond the Jamna, and the Ganges (Ganga) is mentioned only in one late hymn.

At this time the Aryans had not wholly subjugated the indigenous inhabitants. Though many hymns refer to battles between one Aryan tribe and another, there is, underlying this intertribal rivalry, a sense of solidarity against the Dasas or Dasyus, who evidently represent the survivors of the Harappa Culture, and kindred peoples of the Panjab and the North-West. The Dasas are described as dark and ill-favoured, bull-lipped, snub-nosed, worshippers of the phallus, and of hostile speech. They are rich in cattle, and dwell in fortified places called pur, of which the Aryan war-god Indra has destroyed hundreds. The main work of destroying the settlements of the Dasas had been accomplished some time before the composition of the hymns, and the great battles which must then have taken place are already misted over with legend; but the Dasas are still capable of massing armies of 10,000 men against the invaders.

Other enemies of the Aryans are the Panis, who are described as wealthy people who refuse to patronize the Vedic priests, and who steal the cattle of the Aryans. They were not so strongly hated as the Dasas, and their settlements seem often to have continued unmolested. It has been suggested that the Panis were Semitic traders, but the evidence is so slight that this conclusion calmot be accepted.

The Aryans were not uninfluenced by the earlier inhabitants. In classical Sanskrit the word dasa regularly means "slave" or "bondman", and in the later hymns of the Rg Veda it was already acquiring that meaning, while the feminine form dasi is used in the sense of a "slave-girl" throughout the book; but, though many of the vanquished Dasas must have been enslaved, some seem to have come to terms with the conquerors, and one Dasa chief is mentioned as following Aryan ways and patronizing the brahmans. One result of this contact of Aryan and non-Aryan is evident even in the earliest stratum of the Rg Veda, the language of which is appreciably affected by non Indo-European influences. All Indian languages, from Vedic to the modern vernaculars, contain a series of sounds, the retroflex or cerebral consonants, which cannot be traced in any other Indo-European tongues, not even in Old Iranian, which is closely akin to Sanskrit. These sounds must have developed quickly, from the efforts of non-Aryans to master the language of their

{p. 33} conquerors. No doubt the invaders often married indigenous women, whose children would be bilingual, and after a few generations the Aryans' original language would show the effect of the admixture of aboriginal blood. Numerous words in the Rg Veda are not connected with any known Indo-European roots, and were evidently borrowed from the natives. Non-Aryan influence on religion and culture must also have been felt very early, and the gradual disappearance of much of the original Indo-European heritage beneath successive layers of non-Aryan innovations can be traced through the early religious literature of India.


Joseph Needham and David Anthony on Cultural Diffusion across the steppes ofter 2000 BC: needham-anthony.html.

The following is from a BBC documentary on Minoan Crete, featuring Colin MacDonald (curator of Knossos) and Mike Baillie:

The island of Thera, financial centre for Aegean civilization, suffered a massive volcanic eruption in 1628 BC. Tidal waves hit Crete, destroying buildings and boats, and ten cold years followed, probably causing crop failure, on account of ash in the atmosphere.

Minoan Crete survived, but people lost faith in the religious & political hierarchy. Nevertheless, clay tablets in the Linear A language continued for 50 years. After that, they are replaced by clay tablets in Linear B, a language from the Greek Mainland. See

Conclusion: The Minoan Civilization was wiped out by an Aryan invasion, after the eruption had destabilised the cohesiveness of Cretan rulership. Similarly, the Chernobyl explosion did not directly finish off the Soviet Union, but weakened the legitimacy of the ruling elite.

Cavalli-Sforza dismisses the idea of Race as implying that different kinds of people are different species or sub-species, or have essentially different souls, but he accepts the reality of Race in a statistical sense.

He says that the Indo-Europeans ("Aryans") do not constitute a race, but are part of the Caucasoid race, with the Arabs and most people of South India. He writes, "Most inhabitants of India are Caucasoid, even if their skin is darker than that of northern Europeans. Populations in the south that speak Dravidian languages are genetically slightly different from, and darker than, northern Indians." (p. 161 above).

His data are consistent with Gimbutas' presentation of the Indo-Europeans as intruders into the old civilizations of Europe, Anatolia, the Fertile Crescent, Iran & Pakistan. Those civilizations - contra Renfew - appear unlikely to have been Indo-European, even though they were Caucasoid, as the Indo-Europeans were.

Apart from India, the Aryans also invaded Western Europe (from the steppes) and the Middle East. The word "Aryan" is today preserved in the names of the countries "Iran" and "Ireland", i.e. "Eire" = "Aryan", showing the extent of the conquest. Their incursion into the Middle East may have contributed to Abraham's westward journey from Ur in Sumeria (if that be historic), and caused a westward exodus of "Hyksos" peoples into Egypt, bringing the Middle Kingdom to an end. The Aryans were nomadic destroyers of civilizations; only later did they become builders of civilizations, and then they borrowed from other peoples, just as every other civilization has done. The Bible also portrays the Jews entering Palestine as nomadic destroyers: guthridge.html; the real origins of civilisation are neither "Aryan" nor "Jewish".

Ariosophy? The Rig Veda's account of the Aryan conquest: eth-civ.html.

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza favours Gimbutas' interpretation:

Camille Paglia's response: "The femaleness of fertility religions is always double-edged. The Indian nature-goddess Kali is creator and destroyer, granting boons with one set of arms while cutting throats with the other. She is the lady ringed with skulls. The moral ambivalence of the great mother goddesses has been conveniently forgotten by those American feminists who have resurrected them. We cannot grasp nature's bare blade without shedding our own blood": danielou-paglia.html.

Is today's Feminism trying to restore the pre-moralistic culture of Goddess Europe? Why then was it hijacked by the Lesbian Separatists, promoting hatred between the sexes? Is Feminism fatally entangled with ultra-leftist Marxism (Trotskyism)?

Gimbutas gives some details of how marriage operated in Minian Crete: "the mother's brother occupied an important position and was responsible for bringing up her children" (The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 346). This is the case in many matrilineal societies still, and it implies that, where divorce occurred, children were not without a father figure (as happens in the West today); it further implies that divorced husbands were not made to pay maintenance, their loss of their children being a sufficient hardship to bear.

Why do today's Feminists laud a masculine model for women - shoulder pads, assertiveness, crewcut hairstyles, workouts in the gym, childlessness, full-time work (while strangers rear their offspring), the casting of critics into a gulag?

Is this not Marxism in the guise of Feminism?

It might be supposed that Elvis Presley, John Lennon etc, herald a new Dionysian culture. I think not ... Hedonism is not Shivaism. Today's youth culture is superficial, mindless, shallow, disrespectful, self-absorbed, anti-family, far from nature. Hollywood's idols are wealthy materialists, fashion statements, who lead their devotees away from the simple life to the megapolis. Their jarring music and dancing lacks any mystic qualities.

The Trotskyist Cultural Revolution, with its unbounded anger against past culture, merely repeats in a new guise, the anathemas of ancient Jewish scribes against the natural world. Theirs is a false path, however Dionysiac it might seem: sex in the Soviet Union.

Debunking the Goddess myths:; this item specifically debunks Gimbutas' later "feminist" orientation:

I have a copy of Cynthia Eller's book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, but haven't read it. However, I note that Eller misquotes J. P. Mallory in his book In Search of the Indo-Europeans; Mallory is now editor of The Journal of Indo-European Studies. The references: p. 165 in Eller, p. 185 in Mallory.

Mallory, by and large, sides with Gimbutas in the above book (not on "goddess" issues, or on "Matriarchy", but on the Prehistory). On p. 185, he is summarising the objections to Gimbutas' theory. Eller takes the quote out of context, implying that this is Mallory's own position. In the Foreword, Mallory states that he is examining the Gimbutas-Renfrew debate in chapter 6 (pp. 143-185). Eller makes no reference to chapter 6.

Gimbutas' early book was called The Gods & Goddesses of Old Europe, which name she later changed to The Goddesses & Gods of Old Europe, putting the females first. She thought the Goddesses more important, but Alain Danielou, writing about the same sort of culture, places his focus on the male god Shiva/Dionysus. In any case they were a polarity. Gimbutas later wrote books called The Language of the Goddess and The Civilization of the Goddess, which leave the male gods out of their title, even though they do feature.

Gimbutas' "Goddess" & Matriarchy baggage came late in her career, piggybacking, as it were, on her pioneering archaeological work. But there is no need to jettison her prehistory just because it being wrongly used to promote Matriarchy.

Joseph Needham and David Anthony on the spread of Indo-European culture from Central Asia: needham-anthony.html.

Arnold J. Toynbee on the Aryan invasions, and the transmission of Civilization across the Silk Roads: toynbee-history-of-civ.html.

Jared Diamond summarises the case for an Indo-European expansion covering the last 5000 years diamond.html.

Spencer Wells is a Geneticist, a colleague of Cavalli-Sforza and Director of the Genographic Project. In his book The Journey of Man, he shows that Europe's ancestry derives mainly from people in that continent around 30,000 years ago; not from early agriculturalists in the Middle East (Renfrew's position) . But there was an invasion of Aryans from the steppes, which imposed the Indo-European languages on Europe and northern India. Before that, Basque might have been more typical of European languages.

He discovered a genetic marker, M17, which is the signature of the Aryan invaders from the steppe into east & central Europe and northern India: wells-genetics.html.

Marija Gimbutas' book The Goddessess and Gods of Old Europe appears to be out of print.

To order Marija Gimbutas' The Civilization of the Goddess from Amazon:

To order Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza's Genes, Peoples and Languages from Amazon:

To purchase any of Marija Gimbutas' books second-hand through Abebooks:

To purchase any of A. L. Basham's books via Abebooks:

Did Judaism once have a Goddess? jewish-taoist.html.

Write to me at contact.html.