The University of Wisconsin Press

Classics / Women’s Studies / Archeology

Ancient Goddesses
The Myths and the Evidence
Edited by Lucy Goodison and Christine Morris

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
William Aylward, Nicholas D. Cahill, and Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Series Editors

Did goddess worship really exist?

The nurturing Earth Goddess, the Great Mother worshipped at the dawn of civilization—historical fact or consoling fiction?

While Goddess mythologies proliferate and the public devours books by artists, psychotherapists, and enthusiastic amateurs, it is remarkable that those in the field of prehistory have remained largely silent. Did Goddess worship really exist? What actually remains from the earliest cultures, and what can it tell us? What can we learn about the early stages of human religion from the study of prehistoric carvings, pictures, pottery, figurines, and temples?

In Ancient Goddesses, historians and archaeologists write accessibly about this intriguing and controversial topic for the first time. Considering a number of significant early civilizations—Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt; “Old Europe;” Early North West Europe; “Celtic” civilization; the Prehistoric Aegean; Malta; the Ancient Near East; Old Testament Israel; Çatalhöyük; and Archaic Greece—these experts review the most recent evidence so that readers can make up their own minds.

Contributors include Ruth Tringham and Margaret Conkey, University of California, Berkeley; Lynn Meskell, New College, Oxford; Fekri Hassan, University College, London; Karel van der Toorn, University of Amsterdam; Joan Westenholz, Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem; Elizabeth Shee Twohig, University College, Cork; Caroline Malone, New Hall, Cambridge; Mary Voyatzis, University of Arizona; and Miranda Green, University of Wales College.

Lucy Goodison was, when this book was published, an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London and had written several books on mythology and religion, specializing in the early Aegean. Christine Morris was then Leventis Lecturer in Greek Archaeology in the School of Classics, Trinity College, Dublin.


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The cover of Ancient Goddesses is based on a photo collage of a primitive statue of a goddess and photo of the setting sun over the ocean.

March 1999
224 pp.      6 x 9
90 b/w illus.    
ISBN 0-299-16320-2   

This title is out of print.



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