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

Marija Gimbutas: A Memorial E-Shrine

This page is for our personal honoring of Marija's memory. If you would like to add your voice please email us with your words, small graphic, or URL. Thank you.

Marija was an exceptionally important figure in my own academic work. Not only did her writings influence me greatly; her presence and active encouragement set the course of my work. Very early on, she admonished me both to "produce!" and to believe in my work. To that end, she invited me to present a paper at my very first conference, in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, in 1979, and to her other two international conferences, including the one in Vilnius, which, tragically, she did not live to attend. She was also responsible for my first published article, in 1980 ... Marija was friend, teacher, mentor, and I owe her a lifelong debt of gratitude.

Miriam Robbins Dexter

I remember when I first picked up a book by Marija Gimbutas - one of the ones which had a lot of photos of what were once labeled "Dancing Girls," but because of Marija, are now recognized as sacred objects. Depictions of the Great Goddess. The feelings that arose in me were intense. Relief. Joy. Grief that for such a long time so much had been lost to me and to the world at large. And gratitude. Profound gratitude to Marija for her work, for being who she was, come hell or high water. What a model for us all.

Vivienne Verdon-Roe

2/7/94 - LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Marija Gimbutas, an archaeologist who challenged conventional views by concluding that women were worshiped in Stone Age-Europe, is dead at age 73.

Gimbutas died of cancer Wednesday at UCLA Medical Center, said her friend and editor, Joan Marler.

A professor emeritus of European archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Gimbutas authored 20 books.

Her more recent works, including "Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe," "The Language of the Goddess" and "The Civilization of the Goddess," challenged archaeological convention.

She referred to European cultures dating back 6,000 to 8,000 years as "true civilizations" without war, boasting organized cities that were run by women.

Based on thousands of female images from those cultures, she concluded that women were worshiped and that the primary deities were goddesses. She maintained that life was peaceful until the worship of warlike gods was imported by Indo-Europeans.

Her work was praised by feminists and colleagues such as mythologist Joseph Campbell.

A native of Vilnius, Lithuania, Gimbutas received a doctorate in archaeology in 1946 from Tubingen University in Germany. She immigrated to the United States in 1949, did research at Harvard University and joined the UCLA faculty in 1963. She retired four years ago. Survivors include three daughters.

Copyright, 1994. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Marija's Grave
Marija's Grave

We have lost a great scholar in Marija Gimbutas. I was lucky to have worked with her for three years while I was at Los Angeles. Marija had a powerful affect on everyone she met; it was always a joy to be with her, in an academic setting or a less formal one. My coming here to Ireland land at all is due to Marija, and I owe her much.

Laima has spun the last of Marija's thread. Those of us who knew her, and those of us who knew her work, are fortunate that our threads have been interwoven with hers. The tapestry of our lives is much richer for it. Let us not mourn Marija's passing, but rejoice in all she taught and brought us. Ji yra girtina!

Michael Everson, everson@evertype.com
15 Port Chaeimhghein Iochtarach, Baile Atha Cliath 2, Eire
(first posted to linguist@linguistlist.org)

Two papers Michael Everson wrote for Marija: House Guest, a story about a modern Russian couple's relation to the Old Religion, written as a final paper for Marija's Baltic and Slavic Folklore and Mythology class; and Tenacity in religion, myth, and folklore: the Neolithic Goddess of Old Europe preserved in a non-Indo-European setting, a paper Marija requested be written for an IE Studies conference in Dublin. In fond memory.

I had the privilege of having Marija as one of my advisors while I was at UCLA. She embodied all that was wonderful in academics. She was at once a great teacher, fearless researcher, and listener. She taught me to simply trust my own thoughts. I owe her more than I can ever repay.

Keith Johnson

I remember Marija as THE pivotal teacher in my life. I had entered UCLA and at the end of my first term was told by my History of Religions Prof., Kees Bolle, that I should go over and have a talk with Marija. He had spoken to her about me, after reading a paper I had done on Athena for his class. With this introduction I went and met Marija. The minute I entered her presence I felt at home. Here was a teacher who understood me, and there existed a whole area of study paralleling my interests. She seemed to me to embody the concept of the Goddess as Mother and Teacher. Soon, at her suggestion, I was enrolled in her Indo-European Archaeology class series and by her dispensation and direct application to the powers that be at UCLA was brought into her graduate discussion class, even though I was just a freshman at the time. She even sent me to study under Miriam Dexter, Ph. D., another of her students who at a later time was teaching a class on Goddesses and Heroines at UCLA.

Marija might have wanted to rethink her decision when at the first discussion class I rather pointedly corrected a visitor's comment that Athena was born motherless, with the comment "No, you're wrong, Athena had a mother -- Metis is her mother, and Metis resides in Zeus' head!" I think Marija knew then that she had brought a rebel into her ranks. I think that she partially kept me on for my humor value. Marija had a great sense of humor and would laugh quietly to herself when tickled by something someone had said. She could also be stern when the occasion called for it. Eventually, Marija realized that I was not built for academia and after I left UCLA we kept in touch with holiday cards and letters. I still dream of Marija occasionally, and when I write or paint I feel her at my shoulder -- snickering at my jokes or pointed comments or making comment where necessary. The last time I saw her was at her birthday celebration in 1992 (I think?) where true to form I gave her one of those "Must Be Venus Envy" T-shirts. How she laughed about it! I miss her greatly, and I wish she had lived to see my first gallery opening. However, as long as what she has written strikes a chord in the reader, as long as she inspires us, Marija lives on.

Wendilyn Emrys

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