Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-gq7q9 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T19:16:56.604Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Oh my Goddess!

Archaeology, Sexuality and Ecofeminism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009


This paper suggests that the goddess movement is becoming increasingly intertwined with mainstream archaeology, an illustrative case being Çatalhöyük. This is another salient example of the public's avid consumption of archaeology and its multivalent imagery. Yet there are additional, fundamental issues of a more philosophical nature to consider. For example, feminist practitioners might consider interrogating the very ontological bedrock on which goddess narratives are layered. They reinforce three pervasive dualisms which feminists have sought to dispel: nature:culture, mind:body, reason:emotion. Additionally, masculinist theorists might find many of the underlying concepts sexist against men, since they seek to highlight and restore the primacy of women. Despite the positive overtones of the movement, I argue that it is often reactionary, anti-feminist and it essentialises the roles of women and men.

Copyright © The Author(s) 1998

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bailey, D. W., 1994: The representation of gender. Homology or propaganda, Journal of European archaeology 22, 189202.Google Scholar
Conkey, M.W. and, Tringham, R. E., 1995: Archaeology and the Goddess. Exploring the contours of feminist archaeology, in Stanton, D. C. and Stewart, A.J. (eds), Feminisms in the academy, Ann Arbor, 199247.Google Scholar
De Jean, J., 1989: Fictions of Sappho, Chicago.Google Scholar
Eisler, R., 1991: The goddess of nature and spirituality. An ecomanifesto, in Campbell, J. and Musés, C. (eds), In all her names. Explorations of the feminine in divinity, New York, 323.Google Scholar
Frazer, J., 1993 (1922): The golden bough, Ware.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M., 1981: Vulvas, breasts and buttocks of the Goddess Creatress. Commentary on the origins of art, in Buccellati, G. and Speroni, C. (eds), The shape of the past. Studies in honour of Franklin D. Murphy, Los Angeles, 1940.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M., 1982: The goddesses and gods of Old Europe, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M., 1989a: The language of the Goddess. Unearthing hidden symbols of western civilisation, London.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M., 1989b. Women and culture in Goddess-oriented Old Europe, in Plaskow, J. and Christ, C.C. (ed.), Weaving the visions, San Francisco, 6371.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M., 1991: The civilization of the Goddess. The world of Old Europe, San Francisco.Google Scholar
Haaland, G., and Haaland, R., 1995: Who speaks the Goddess's language? Imagination and method in archaeological research, Norwegian archaeological review 282, 105121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hassan, F.A., 1997: Beyond the surface. Comments on Hodder's ‘reflexive excavation methodology’, Antiquity 71, 1020–1025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hodder, I., (ed.) 1996: On the surface. Çatalhöyük 1993–5, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Hodder, I., 1997: Always momentary, fluid and flexible. Towards a reflexive excavation methodology, Antiquity 71, 691700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hodder, I., 1998: The past as passion and play. Çatalhöyük as a site of conflict in the construction of multiple pasts, in Meskell, L. M. (ed.), Archaeology under fire. Politics, nationalism and heritage in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, London124139.Google Scholar
Hutton, R., 1997: The Neolithic Great Goddess. A study in modern tradition, Antiquity 71, 9199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Knapp, A. B., and Meskell, L.M., 1997: Bodies of evidence in prehistoric Cyprus, Cambridge archaeological journal 7, 183204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lloyd, G., 1993: The Man of Reason. ‘Male’ and ‘female’ in western philosophy, London.Google Scholar
Mellaart, J., 1964: Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, 1963, Anatolian studies 14, 39119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mellaart, J., 1965: Earliest civilizations of the Near East, London.Google Scholar
Mellaart, J. et al. , (eds), 1989: The Goddess from Anatolia, Rome.Google Scholar
Meskell, L. M., 1995: Goddesses, Gimbutas and New Age archaeology, Antiquity 69, 7486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meskell, L. M., 1996: The somatisation of archaeology. Institutions, discourses, corporeality. Norwegian archaeological review 29, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meskell, L. M., 1997a: The irresistible body and the seduction of archaeology, in Montserrat, D. (ed.), Changing bodies, changing meanings. Studies on the human body in Antiquity, London, 139161.Google Scholar
Meskell, L. M., 1997b: Review of T. Taylor, The prehistory of sex. Four Million Year's of Human Sexual Culture, Norwegian archaeological review 30, 71–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meskell, L.M., 1998a: Twin peaks. The archaeologies of the Çatalhöyük, in Goodison, L. and Morris, C. (eds), Ancient goddesses. The myths and the evidence, London4662.Google Scholar
Meskell, L. M., 1998b: Archaeology Matters, in Meskell, L.M. (ed.), Archaeology under fire. Politics, nationalism and heritage in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, London112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mutén, B., (ed.) 1994: Return of the Great Goddess, Dublin.Google Scholar
Noble, V, 1991: Shakti woman. Feeling our fire, healing our world. The new female shamanism, New York.Google Scholar
Pollack, R., 1993: The body of the Goddess, in Noble, V. (ed.), Uncoiling the snake. Ancient patterns in contemporary women's lives, New York, 99117.Google Scholar
Seidler, V. J., 1989: Rediscovering masculinity. Reason, language and sexuality, London.Google Scholar
Seidler, V. J., 1997: Man enough. Embodying masculinities, London.Google Scholar
Skinner, M. B., 1993: Woman and language in ancient Greece, or, Why is Sappho a woman, in Rabinowitz, N.S. and Richlin, A. (eds), Feminist theory and the classics, London, 125144.Google Scholar
Talalay, L. E., 1994: A feminist boomerang. The great goddess of Greek prehistory, Gender and history 6, 165183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, T., 1996: The prehistory of sex. Four million years of human sexual culture, London.Google Scholar
Williamson, M., 1995: Sappho's immortal daughters, Cambridge (MA).Google Scholar