Marija Gimbutas Essay

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[pic] Marija Alseikaite Gimbutas was born in 1921, in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Lithuanian spelling of her surname was Gimbutienė. Gimbutas fled her homeland, Lithuania, during World War II, which at that time was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1946, she earned a PhD in archaeology at Tübingen University in Germany. Her background was interdisciplinary and included a thorough grounding in linguistics, ethnology, and the history of religions, which was unusual for an archaeologist. In 1949, she moved to the United States, where she would remain until her death four decades later. With her extensive knowledge of European languages, Marija Gimbutas was employed by Harvard University in 1950. She was assigned the task of conducting research and writing texts regarding European prehistory. Gimbutas was able to read and translate the archaeological reports from Eastern Europe, which opened the American to new ideas on archeology. She remained at Harvard for thirteen years where she also became a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. In 1955 Marija Gimbutas was made a Fellow of Harvard’s Peabody Museum. 1956 brought an International conference at Philadelphia, and it was here that Marija Gimbutas introduced her “Kurgan Hypothesis,” which combined archaeological study of the distinctive “Kurgan” burial mounds with linguistics to unravel some problems in the study of the Proto-Indo-Europeans; namely, to account for their origin and to trace their migrations into Europe. The word “Kurgan” is a Russian word from Turkic describing the kind of graves and grave-barrows built by the people of this culture. In 1963, Marija Gimbutas was invited to teach at the University of California in Los Angeles, where she remained a professor until her retirement in 1989. In Southern California, she taught Baltic and Slavic studies. Gimbutas was
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