Event: Marija Gimbutas: A Magnificent Vindication

Date & Time

October 22, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am
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Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson



Event Type

Cotsen Public Lecture

Event Details

Join us for a virtual Round Table to celebrate Marija Gimbutas (1921–1994), UNESCO's 2021 Centennial honoree. Marija Gimbutas was a professor of archaeology at UCLA and internationally renowned for her study of the arrival of the Proto-Indo-European languages and culture in Europe. One of her most original (and controversial) contributions has been validated recently by aDNA: the Kurgan Hypothesis and the arrival into Europe of the Proto-Indo-European speakers around 3500 BC. Introduced by Ernestine S. Elster, the participants include James Mallory, David Anthony, and Dorcas Brown with Willeke Wendrich as moderator.

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James Mallory was born in 1945 in California and educated at Occidental College (AB, 1963) and UCLA where he received his PhD in Indo-European Studies (European Archaeology) in 1975. In 1977 he joined the Archaeology Department at Queen’s University Belfast from which he retired as Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology in 2011. He has specialized in both Indo-European archaeology where he has published In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989), The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997), and The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (2006) and Irish Archaeology (The Archaeology of Ulster, 1991; The Origins of the Irish, 2013; and In Search of the Irish Dreamtime, 2016). He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy. 

David Anthony is an archaeologist of the Eurasian steppes (esp. Russia, Ukraine, & Kazakhstan), known for his interdisciplinary research on the origins and spread of Indo-European languages, combining evidence from archaeology, ancient human DNA, linguistics, and comparative mythology. His most significant book, The Horse, the Wheel, and LanguageHow Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, won the Society for American Archaeology prize for best scientific book in 2010. His entry into the Indo-European debate was facilitated by Marija Gimbutas’s groundbreaking English-language syntheses of eastern European archaeology. He is an associate in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, working in David Reich’s ancient DNA lab; and an emeritus professor at Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY. 

Dorcas Brown was co-director of grant-supported studies of museum collections in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Hungary (her advanced degree is in Museum Studies); and later of archaeological excavations in the steppes near Samara, Russia and Razdolnoe, Ukraine. Singly or together, Brown and Anthony have published 70+ articles and chapters, including since 2015 three co-authored in Science and three in Nature on a variety of related topics: Bronze Age migrations out of the steppes proven by ancient DNA, with profound implications for the Indo-European debate; the domestication of the dog, from ancient wolf & dog DNA; the domestication of the horse, from ancient horse DNA; the origin of dairying in the steppes, based on dairy peptides preserved in dental calculus; and male adolescent initiation-into-warrior rituals, connected with their discovery and excavation of a Bronze Age boys’ initiation site in the Volga steppes. She is retired from Hartwick College.

Introductions by Ernestine S. Elster. Elster was a graduate student of Gimbutas and participated in four of her archaeological expeditions. She is currently the director of the Mediterranean Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute. 

Moderated by Willeke Wendrich, Professor, UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, is the Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.