30,000 Years of Goddess Images
I am an artist. Something you don’t learn in most art history classes is the fact that the predominant human images in the history of the world, dating back to the very first paleolithic images, were of women. These are sometimes labelled “Venus” figures or “Fertility Cult Idols.” These images continue in the Neolithic period, and are at the beginning of every major civilization.
I became fascinated by this new insight. I started reading many of the women scholars who were opening up the new field of research on the divine feminine. What I found missing, in my reading, was a way to visualize the tremendous scope of the Goddess phenomenon, which covers more than 30,000 years. So, I decided to make a Goddess Timeline. Thus started an amazing personal journey.
I illustrated every Goddesses I could find and positioned her in her appropriate place on the timeline. This project immersed me in one culture after another, from Mesopotamia, to Egypt, Old Europe, … all the way to the present day Black Madonnas. Most of the research I read focused on one period or culture. The few overall timelines I found distorted the time scale, shrinking the vast Paleolithic and exaggerating some of the more prolific periods. What I wanted was a chronology on a uniform time scale so I could better understand the whole picture.
To fill this void I created a timeline in which the horizontal dimension represents time and the vertical dimension shows the geographic distribution. Seen in this way, it becomes clear how widespread and enduring the Goddess phenomenon has been. Scholars may debate whether the early images represent true religious objects, but when you consider the timeline as a whole, it is clear that many of the characteristics from even the earliest images can be recognized in the Goddesses of established religions in more recent civilizations.
I am indebted to the pioneering work of the many female and male scholars who have taken the lead in this area of scholarly research. Their work has demonstrated both insight and academic courage. The Goddess Timeline is my contribution to the conversation.
“…because the feminine is simply divine”