Domination of Women? Gender Representation in the Corpus of Late Neolithic Anthropomorphic Figurines


  • Jasna Vuković Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade



anthropomorphic figurines, Late Neolithic, representation of gender/sex, Mother Goddess, fertility cult


Since the inception of the discipline of archaeology, figurines have been considered as the basis for research into the praehistoric social order and religious ideas. In spite of the numerous critiques, the idea that they are the reflection of adoration of Mother Goddess and fertility cults, has persevered even to the present day, mainly thanks to the work of Maria Gimbutas. Her simplified approach to praehistory, apart from giving rise to pseudo-archaeological narratives, has induced severe criticism and polemics inside archaeology. The concept of the Goddess has migrated during the recent period from the academic writing to the realm of pseudo-science, daily politics and activism. In our country, the ideas of the Golden Past, considered to be the origin of the European civilization, are particularly present in the „grey zone“: the public sphere, facilitated through media. All these narratives are based upon the preconception that in the Neolithic collections the representations of women dominate. The results of the preliminary analyses of gender representation in Neolithic assemblages have proven that the claims of women’s dominance are ill-founded, and emphasized once more the significant presence, or even dominance of asexual figurines. On the other hand, the criteria for identification have shown to be unreliable, raising the question of usefulness of such attempts, as well as a number of new questions. Primarily, the role and meaning of the presence/absence of secondary sex attributes, their correlation to age, as well as possible regional differences in meaning and function of figurines are discussed.


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How to Cite

Vuković, Jasna. 2021. “Domination of Women? Gender Representation in the Corpus of Late Neolithic Anthropomorphic Figurines”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (3):739–759.