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La Déesse et le Grain : Trois essais sur les religions néolithiques
[Goddess and Grain: Three Essays on Neolithic Religion]
2016, Paris : Gallimard
Several myths as well as thousands of statuettes of buxom women displaying sexual symbols support the theory according to which it was women who invented agriculture. Such myths can lead to the conclusion that in the past, women were the dominant sex. This is the thesis of primitive matriarchy, a thesis severely criticized by social anthropology as, to date, not a single society found and observable can be called “matriarchal.” But it retains its partisans among certain archeologists and a fringe of the wider public fascinated by the idea of an ancient cult of the “Great Goddess.”
The first essay presented here reexamines this thesis by considering the most recent findings from the Neolithic Middle East, the region where the most ancient agriculture is found. The other two essays examine the abundant iconography of these first societies. There are images of bulls, or at least of bovines. Should these be seen as a cult of “bull-god” or, on the contrary, as sacrificial animals? Also found here are representations of headless bodies and remodeled human skulls among the earliest depictions of human faces. Should these be seen as “ancestor worship” or trophies taken from enemies?

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