Ice Age Mammoth Ivory Art from Mezin Paleolithic site in Ukraine. Birthplace of Goddess Artemis?


American professor of literature Joseph Campbell in his famous book The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology shares quite an interesting observation on the culture of the area and mentions Mezin and many artifacts from the site: “On the right bank of the Desna [river], about halfway between Bryansk and Kyiv, an exceptionally rich excavation known as Mezin yielded, besides some mammoth ivory bracelets engraved with meander and zigzag designs and a pendant of mammoth ivory in the form of a tooth, two roughly carved little sitting animals, six extraordinarily beautiful mammoth-ivory birds, ranging from 1 ½ to 4 inches long, and ten curiously stylized figurines, also of mammoth ivory, that have been variously identified as female nudes (Abbé Breuil), the heads of long-beaked birds (V. A. Gorodcov), and phalli (F. K. Volkov, the discoverer of the site)…” 

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Dr. Campbell continues: “It is impossible not to feel, when reviewing the material of these mammoth-hunting stations on the loess plains north of the Black and Caspian Seas, that we are in a province fundamentally different in style and mythology from that of the hunters of the great painted caves. The richest center of this more easterly style would appear to have been the area between the Dnieper and Don river systems—at least as far as indicated by the discoveries made up to the present. The art was not, like that of the caves, impressionistic, but geometrically stylized, and the chief figure was not the costumed shaman, at once animal and man, master of the mysteries of the temple-caves, but the perfectly naked, fertile female, standing as guardian of the hearth. And I think it most remarkable that we detect in her surroundings a constellation of motifs that remained closely associated with the goddess in the later epoch of the Neolithic and on into the periods of the high civilizations: the meander (as a reference to the labyrinth), the bird (in the dovecotes of the temples of Aphrodite), the fish (in the fish ponds of the same temples), the sitting animals, and the phallus. Who, furthermore, reading of the figure amid the mammoth skulls, does not think of Artemis as the huntress, the lady of the wild things; or of the Hindu protectress of the home and goddess of good fortune, Lakshmi, in her manifestation as Lakshmi of the Elephants (gājā-lakşmī), where she is shown sitting on the circular corolla of a lotus, flanked by two mighty elephants that are pouring water upon her, either directly from their trunks or from water jars that they have lifted above her head?”

Stylized Female Figurine, Mezin site

The suggestion that the Cult of Goddess Artemis Originated in the area of what is now Ukraine was made in one of the recent articles.

Ice Age Mammoth Ivory Bracelets from Mezin in Ukraine – the Most Ancient Lunar-Solar Calendars? >

More interesting facts about the mammoth bone stations discovered in Ukraine can be found in the “Cradle of Civilizations” book.

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