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Gentlemen and Amazons – The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, 1861-1900 - California Scholarship Online
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Gentlemen and Amazons: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, 1861-1900

Cynthia Eller


This book traces the nineteenth-century genesis and development of an important contemporary myth about human origins: that of an original prehistoric matriarchy. It explores the intellectual history of the myth, which arose from male scholars who mostly wanted to vindicate the patriarchal family model as a higher stage of human development. The book tells the stories these men told, analyzes the gendered assumptions they made, and provides the necessary context for understanding how feminists of the 1970s and 1980s embraced as historical “fact” a discredited nineteenth-century idea.

Keywords: human origins, prehistoric matriarchy, patriarchal family model, human development, gender, feminism, nineteenth century

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780520248595
Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520248595.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Cynthia Eller, author