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Marija Gimbutas pages:  Marija's Bio / Publications / What's the Debate? / Memorial / Marija Resources 

Marija Gimbutas -- Bio

Marija Gimbutas' birthplace Marija's birthplace in Vilnius, Lithuania
* 1800's late, Marja's parents born. Marija's mother Veronika was the youngest of nine children -- when Veronika was six months old her father died, and the mother raised the family alone. Veronika and her sister Julija became two of the first female physicians in Northeastern Europe -- Veronika was an occulist and Julija was a dentist. Marija's father Danielius Alseika was a writer, folklorist and a physician. Marija's parents met while they were both working on their doctorates.
* 1910, Marija's parents married
* 1912, Brother Vytautas
* 1914, Beginning of WW1
* 1915, Germans take control
* 1917, Abdication of Czar Nicholas the second
* 1917, Marija's parents return to Vilnius
* 1918, Marija's parents establish the first Lithuanian hospital in Vilinius
* 1919, Bolshevik forces occupied Vilnius. Poles occupied Vilnius. Lithuanian government moved to Kaunus. Hospital becomes a center for Lithuanian resistance
* 1921, Jan 23rd. Marija's birth in Vilnius
* 1927, Marija's parents establish a Montessori School for her, piano lessons begin. Her Mother has Sunday salons where all the great intellectuals and artists of Vilnius gathered.
* 1931, Family begins move to Kaunas because Vilnius is occupied by Poland. Father refuses to move and continues to fight the Polish occupation.
Marija's Family fleeing 1933
Fleeing, 1933


* 1933, Family in Kaunus. Marija can only visit her father and Vilnius by hiding in a horse and wagon to cross the border.
* 1936, Father dies.
* 1937/38 Marija participated in ethnographic expeditions to southeastern Lithuania
Marija's Family fleeing 1933
Marija's family fleeing in wagon


* 1938, Chosen to perform Beethoven's 4th Concerto
* 1938, Graduates from high school with honors
* 1938, Began studying at Great University in Kaunas -- first studied linguistics.
* 1939, Germany invades Poland
* 1939, Soviets invade Poland
* 1939, Vilnius is liberated and freed of Polish occupation after the German invasion of Poland.
* 1939 Marija returns to Vilnius. Collecting folklore from 1000's of refugees from Byelorussia, which had been been taken by Russia. She collects at least 5000 folksongs. Enrolls in the University of Vilnius. "So there was a pioneer spirit throughout, in the government, the universities, school systems everywhere. And the young generation to which I belonged lived with all that pioneering spirit doing more than was possible to do." (That was only one year)
* 1940, Soviets invade Lithuania, removing priceless treasures. Marija is swimming in a lake when Soviet planes arrive, Lithuania is declared a republic of the Soviet Union, Universitity is closed
* 1941, Joins the underground resistance movement. taking part in Lithuanian uprising, Russia begins excecution, arrests and deportations. Marija hides in the woods, near Pazaislis. Her Mother carries poison with her in order not to be taken away. Marija writing her dissertation about burial rites during this time. Lithuania is invaded by Germany -- Lithuanian uprising takes place. 25 members of Marija's family disappear in June. Marija escapes to Kanus to hide. On June 22nd Germany attacks Russia. Underground movement becomes very active, Germany occupies Lithuania. Maria married Jurgis Gimbutas
* 1942, June: Completion of her masters degree in archaeology, in Vilnius, begining her post graduate studies and publishing articles.
* 1943 Birth of first daughter, Danute. She has breastfeeding issues, they are told she may be allergic to breast milk
* 1944, Soviet army defeats Germany and occupies Lithuania. July 8: fled Lithuania as a refugee. Dissertation under one arm and baby under the other, she leaves her Mother on the shore sick with the flu, fleeing on the Nemunas River on a raft. They take a train to Vienna where they meet other refugees, and then to Innsbruck Austria, where Jurgis gets some work in a factory until it is bombed. They escape over the mountains by bicycle and arrive in the farm country of Germany.
* 1945, On a farm in Germany, go to Tubingen, Germany.
* 1946, Receives her Doctor of Philosophy degree in archaeology at Tubingen University, Her thesis was published the same year.
* 1947, Her second daughter Zevile is born March 21st, the Gimbutas family emigrates to America
* 1950, Recognized at Harvard University, begins translating ancient text and wrote on European prehistory.
* 1954, Birth to a third daughter Rasa
Marija's Family 1951 
The Gimbutas Family, 1951


* 1955, Named Research Fellow of Harvard's Peabody Museum (a lifetime honor). Harvard years were very difficult but she received strength from Mother, Aunt and Cousin....Meile and Inga, still in Lithuania. Mother supported a draftsman to work on the Bronze Age volume. Mother did the thousands of drawings in Lithuania, sending them to Marija by mail.
* 1956, Marija's Kurgan Hypothesis is presented in Philidelphia for the first time
* 1956, "Prehistory of Eastern Europe"
* 1958, "Ancient symbolism of Lithuanian Folk Art" is published in Philidelphia
* 1960, Awarded the Outstanding New American by the World Refugee Committee and Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce
* 1960, Lectures at an Orientalist congress in Moscow, seeing her mother for the first time since 1944. This is a great story about how she had to pretend not to know her Mother etc. Returns briefly to Vilnius for 2 days. When she returned to LA she was accused of being a Russian spy.
* 1963, Began to work at UCLA
* 1965, "Bronze age cultures of Central and Eastern Europe"
* 1967/68, Became project director for excavations of Neolithic sites in Yugoslavia and Macedonia, receiving a Humanities Endowment award from the Smithsonian institution, and the Woman of The Year Award from the LA times
* 1968/69, Excavations at Sitagroi, Greek Macedonia
Marija collecting artifacts 
Marija collecting in the field


* 1969, She was an exchange professor with the USSR through the American Academy of Sciences.
* 1969/71, Excavations at Anza, Macedonia.
* 1973/75, Excavations at Achilleion, near Farsala.
* 1974, "Gods and Goddesses"
* 1977/80, Excavations at the Scaloria cave sancuary near Macedonia, Southeast Italy.
* 1979. Organized the first interdisciplinary conderence on "The Transformation of European and Anatolian Culture".
* 1981, Returned to USSR with the American Academy of Sciences on Fulbright fellowship. Lectured in Vilnius University. "I counted and I had in my audience something like 3,000 people, throughout 2 months of lecturing. And there is an organization now, sort of a pagan organization which indirectly was influenced by my being there or my writings. They are called Romuva, which is the name of a sacred hill and also described as a sanctuary in the 14th century. So this is the name for this reawakening of pagan rituals."

Marija Gimbutas in Slovakia, 1991. Photo by Joan Marler.
Marija Gimbutas in Slovakia, 1991. Photo by Joan Marler
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