Prehistory in Italy, in the sign of the Goddess

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The January 23 falls centenary of the birth of Marija Gimbutas.

The well-known myth-archaeologist needs no introduction, it was she who coined the expression "Ancient Europe” as the result of a campaign of excavations lasting over ten years where he demonstrated, with data in hand, the existence of one flourishing civilization and a rich culture inspired by the cult of the Goddess, which flourished in the Paleolithic and were progressively destroyed with the arrival of the waves of migration from the East which would create the cultural, social, political and religious system that we call Patriarchy.

We are indebted to Marija for an enormous amount of essays which made tangible what until the 1960s were only hypotheses of linguists, anthropologists, ethnologists and religious scholars but had not yet given rise to excavations and collection of finds on the field.

A part of feminism has not yet sufficiently evaluated the scope of these studies, especially those most oriented towards investigating the spirituality connected with the Goddess, the Lady, the Potnia. Talking about the Sacred is still a taboo for many of us, it represents a world and a language that are foreign to us, which we do not know how to deal with and from which we prudently keep our distance. Studying myth, religious symbols, cultural expressions, art, means understanding what really “another world is possible”, because it already existed: the Patriarchate is not a "natural" structure but a parenthesis of History which only counts five thousand years, very little compared to the "Golden Age" which began (according to sources) with the Paleolithic and ended from the Bronze Age (but survived patchily up to the present day in various parts of the world, sometimes openly, sometimes subtly).

It is a joy to pay homage to the work of the friends of the Association “Prehistory in Italy” which has one Web page (now also on Facebook) born a few weeks ago precisely to honor the 100th birthday of the great Lithuanian scholar. The project was born within the “Authors of Civilization” Study Group to continue Gimbutas' work, applying his gaze and his methods to findings on Italian territory (investigated only fleetingly in his study of Ancient Europe). Our position at the center of the Mediterranean has exposed us to continuous passages of human groups, cultures, civilizations, constantly moving between continents. Italy is full of archaeological, linguistic, anthropological and religious finds linked to the Culture of the Goddess, often unknown to non-experts.

“Prehistory in Italy”, therefore, sets itself as its objective collection, census and conservation in a virtual space easily accessible and shareable photographic and documentary material present in our country: artefacts (menhirs, dolmens, steles, rock paintings, statuettes), myths, cults, legends, recorded in cards and identifiable geographically on Italian territory. For this immense work the "Prehistory in Italy" call for help from scholars, archaeologists and anyone with study material to be cataloged and shared with anyone interested in this area which is still new to many of us.

Also new on this page is the homage to a great Italian scholar, Momolina Marconi, almost unknown even to those who have recently approached the Culture of the Goddess. This shy and highly cultured woman, who passed away in 2006, held the chair of History of Religions at the University of Milan and dedicated her entire existence to the rediscovery of the Great Mediterranean Female Divinity.

Studies on the Goddess arrived in Italy only a few decades ago and from the Anglo-Saxon world (Gimbutas herself taught in the USA, at UCLA), but studies on the Mediterranean world are much older and date back not only to "The White Lady” Of Robert Graves, but also to a limited circle of scholars including Italians Uberto Pestalozza and his student Momolina Marconi, who published his first work already in 1939.

There is therefore an Italian tradition, original and very valid, of studies on the Sacred Feminine, on the Goddess, on this Great Mother, always the same and always different, from Spain to the Indus. Tradition of studies which deserves renewed attention from the younger ones, who are approaching political feminism and who would like to understand how and why human history has gone in this direction.

Italian radical feminism is influenced by a Mediterranean feminism which has some specificities compared to the Anglo-Saxon one (against which many express some sense of inferiority). The project of Authors of Civilization/Prehistory in Italy moves in this tradition-direction that we feel is common in the tkeeping the vital, creative and sexual body of women at the center, true Lords of creation. A line of thought that unfolds in Carla Lonzi, Mary Daly, Luce Irigaray, Luisa Muraro, against an idea of an "emancipation" flattened on the male model and oriented towards the rediscovery of "archaic future" (Daly) that Marija Gimbutas and Momolina Marconi helped us to (re-)know with their studies.

Thanks and good work to those who created the Prehistory in Italy project (Luciana Percovich primarily).

Anna Perenna


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