Thousands of years old exhibits, including half a hundred women’s sculptures, amulets, anthropomorphic vessels, axes, arrowheads, spears, skulls and a burial mound resting on the remains of a soldier, lay at the House of Stories, an international exhibition “Goddesses and Warriors”.
This exhibition tells the story of two different cultural encounters, events 6000 years ago, completely changing European identity and shaping who we are today.
300 unique exhibits
The presentation exhibition “Goddesses and Soldiers” at the House of Stories introduces the world-famous Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutiene (1921–1994) and her scientific insights. The visitor is revealed two fundamental hypotheses of scientists about the development and identity of European culture, which have gained its universal recognition and inspiration for new scientists and social movements.
“Marija Gimbutiene’s hypotheses describing the cultural transformation of Europe in the exhibition are illustrated by precisely those archaeological findings, which the researcher relied on when raising them. We brought 300 unique exhibits and various materials from Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, Croatia, Italy, Sacarvelo, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania to the exhibition in Lithuania, at the House of History, ”says Rūta Kačkutė, the head of the Lithuanian National Museum.
The era of the goddesses and the matristic society
The story of the exhibition is spread over three halls and covers a history of 5 thousand years. In the first hall the epoch of the Goddesses is presented, in the second – the period of soldiers, in the third – the biography of the archaeologist M. Gimbutienė.
The Age of Goddesses is a farming community that, almost 9,000 years ago, initially developed in the neighborhood of European hunters and fishermen, brought with it not only wheat and peas, but also pets, and most importantly, an expansion of the Goddess’s religion-based worldview. Their legacy is thousands of sculptures of all sizes, the vast majority of which depict a woman or, based on Gimbutiene’s Old European hypothesis, the Goddess the Creator.
“In ancient Europe, which flourished from the Adriatic and Aegean to the middle of the Danube and western Ukraine, we find a very colorful culture – the first metals, that is, copper and gold, the first cities, widespread trade networks, unprecedented craftsmanship of potters and stonemakers . Coexistence was based on the principle of peace, and the continuation of the family and the spiritual vitality of the community were ensured by women. Gimbutienė herself never called this period a matriarch, but named the prevailing social system as a matriarch – that is, when one sex does not seek to overshadow the other, ”says one of the exhibition curators Inga Merkytė.
A confrontation that has shaped European identity
However, the civilization of Old Europe collapsed 6,000 years ago when the steppe began to invade the people of the Kurdish culture. These were nomads engaged in animal husbandry, armed with daggers, axes and bows, recognizable by a special way of burying their loved ones in burial mounds – kurgan. Their spread of Indo-European language, patriarchal traditions, and the threefold perception of the world have become an integral part of today’s European culture.
“It is interesting to think about what we would have had today if the existence of Old Europe had not been divided by the influx of communities based on a completely different principle, initially the era of the new Europe – the military era. It is because of them today’s Indo-European language that has spread to us with livestock farmers who have come from the steppes of the Caspian and Black Seas. This crossroads of cultures was far from peaceful, leaving archaeologists hundreds of burnt-down settlements and mass graves in Old Europe, but also innovative burials in burial mounds, carriage remnants, a domesticated horse and weapons such as stone piles and bronze daggers. Gimbutienė described all this 65 years ago, but she received real recognition only today, with new DNA tests, ”says I. Merkytė.
The third part of the exhibition less. She – about Marija Gimbutienė’s very personality and her life – about a woman, leaves Lithuania due to the Soviet occupation, pulls out the difficulties caused by migration, but is not responsible for her dreams and becoming a world-famous scientist. Her life is an absolutely exceptional story.
Exhibition curators – dr. Gabrielė Gudaitienė and dr. Inga Merkytė, author of the exhibition idea – dr. Agnė Čvilytė. The exhibition is supported by the Lithuanian Culture Council and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
The exhibition “Goddesses and Warriors” at the House of Stories will run until March 2022. March 13
The exhibition is accompanied by four special education for children (from October 6) and excursions for adults, as well as a specially designed souvenir line and the exhibition catalog “European Origins: Goddesses and Warriors”.
Information of the Lithuanian National Museum