The Institute of Archaeomythology is inspired by the multidisciplinary scholarship and vision of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas who actively encouraged students and colleagues from a variety of fields to examine problems in European prehistory with a more inclusive and interdisciplinary point of view. A major focus of her research centered on the Neolithic cultures of Old Europe and the Indo-European Bronze Age societies that replaced them. She stressed the importance of investigating the enormous changes in beliefs, rituals and social structure that took place as a result of the “collusion of cultures” that took place between c. 4500-2500 BC, during the Indo-Europeanization of Europe, in order to more fully understand subsequent European cultural development. In Gimbutas’s view, this was “one of the most complex and least understood [periods] in prehistory.” In the Journal of Indo-European Studies (vol. 8, no. 1&2, 1980:1) Gimbutas wrote:
It is a period which urgently demands a concerted effort by scholars from various disciplines. The exchange of information between the archaeologists, linguists, mythologists, physical anthropologists, and ancient historians has much to contribute to the field of Indo-European studies.
To this end, Dr. Gimbutas organized two international conferences on “The Transformation of European and Anatolian Culture, 4500-2500 BC and its Legacy”: September 12-17, 1979 in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia; and September 15-19, 1989 in Dublin, Ireland.
A third international conference, “The Indo-Europeanization of Northern Europe,” took place September 1-7, 1994 in Vilnius, Lithuania in memoriam of Dr. Gimbutas who passed away February 2 of that year.
The papers from all three conferences were published in the Journal of Indo-European Studies.
The Birth of IAM
The Institute of Archaeomythology was established in order to inspire and support ongoing archaeomythological research. The first international, interdisciplinary conference, “Deepening the Disciplines,” sponsored by the fledgling Institute, was held in 1998 on the private island of Madouri near Lefkas, western Greece. Numerous discussions took place among participating scholars about the significance of such an organization and how it might develop and move forward.
The second event, the “International Symposium on the Interdisciplinary Significance of the Black Sea Flood, c. 6700 BC,” was held at the Liguria Study Center, Bogliasco, Italy in 2002, co-sponsored by the Bogliasco Foundation.
In 2003, the Institute of Archaeomythology was granted a 501(c)3 non-profit status by the US Federal government and the State of California.