Miriam Robbins Dexter

Miriam Robbins Dexter holds a PhD in ancient Indo-European languages, archaeology, and comparative mythology, from UCLA. Her first book, Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book (1990), in which she translated texts from thirteen languages, was used for courses she taught at UCLA for a decade and a half. She completed and supplemented the final book of Marija Gimbutas, The Living Goddesses (1999). Her 2010 book, coauthored with Victor Mair, Sacred Display: Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia, won the 2012 Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Sarasvati award for best nonfiction book on women and mythology. In 2013, Miriam and Victor published a new monograph, “Sacred Display: New Findings” in the University of Pennsylvania online series, Sino-Platonic Papers. In 2015, with Vicki Noble, she edited the anthology, Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries (2015) (Susan Koppelman award for best edited feminist anthology, 2016). Miriam is the author of over 30 scholarly articles and 11 encyclopedia articles on ancient female figures. She has edited and coedited sixteen scholarly volumes. For thirteen years, she taught courses in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit languages in the department of Classics at the University of Southern California. She has guest-lectured at the New Bulgarian University (Sophia, Bulgaria) and “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University (Iaşi, Moldavia, Romania).

She is particularly interested in the honoring of all possible facets of the female character—the erotic, the ferocious, the monstrous —although it is frequently a particular patriarchal culture which assigns monstrosity to a female figure such as the Greco-Roman Medusa, the Germanic Ran, and other frightening female figures. In patriarchal cultures, this monstrous aspect of the female divine is something which must be murdered, usually by a patriarchal “hero” such as the Greek Perseus. Her work stresses the importance of seeing all facets of what male-centered cultures have labeled a “feminine monster” and to look at the female figures through a non-biased rather than a male-centered lens.

Selected Publications

2021. “The Roots of Indo-European Patriarchy: DNA, Indo-European Female Figures and the Principles of Energy.” The Journal of Archaeomythology 9 (Fall): 23–38. 

2020. “La déesse monstrueuse. Dégradation des anciennes déesses aviaires et ophidiennes en monstres et sorcières de l’âge historique.” Traduit de l’américain par Stéphane Normand 2020: Les Editions Kadath.

2018. “Neolithic Female Figures and their Evolution into Groups of Ferocious and Beneficent Historic-Age Goddesses, Fairies, and Witches.” In Volume of the International Symposium, The Image of Divinity in the Neolithic and Eneolithic. Ways of Communication. Sibiu, Romania, 26th-28th October 2017. Muzeul Bucovinei, ed. Karl A. Romstorfer, 81–92. Suceava, Romania.

2017. “Medusa: Ferocious and Beautiful, Petrifying and Healing: Through the Words of the Ancients.” In Re-Visioning Medusa; from Monster to Divine Wisdom, ed. Glenys Livingstone, Trista Hendren, and Pat Daly, 19–50. Girl God Books.

Robbins Dexter, Miriam and Vicki Noble, eds. 2015. Elders and Visionaries: Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement. Amherst, New York: Teneo Press. *2016 Award for Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries: Susan Koppelman Award for best edited feminist anthology.

Robbins Dexter, Miriam, and Victor H. Mair. 2013. “Sacred Display: New Findings.” Sino-Platonic Papers (September, 2013). http://sino-platonic.org/     

2013. “Sheela-na-gig: Sexualität und die Göttin im AltenIrland.” In Kelten Kulte Göttinnen: Spuren einer verborgenen Kultur, ed. Kurt Derungs. Verlag edition amalia, Akademie der Landschaft. German translation of “The Sheela na gigs, Sexuality, and the Goddess in Ancient Ireland.” Miriam Robbins Dexter and Starr Goode, 243-271.

2013. “La Terribile, Erotica e ‘Bella’ Medusa E Il Serpente E L’uccello Neolitici.” Italian translation of my article, “The Ferocious and The Erotic: ‘Beautiful” Medusa and the Neolithic Bird and Snake.” Translated by Mariagrazia Pelaia. Prometeo: Rivista trimestrale di scienze e storia, 31(122): 20–29.

2013. “The Monstrous Goddess: The Degeneration of Ancient Bird and Snake Goddesses into Historic Age Witches and Monsters.” Izkustvo & Ideologiya: Ivan Marazov Decet Godini Po-K’sno (Art and Ideology: Festschrift for Ivan Marazov).  The anthology is in Bulgarian and English. (Chapter in Anthology) Sophia: Universitetsko Izdatelstvo “Sv. Kliment Ochridski,” 390–403.

2014. “Further Thoughts on the V and the M in the Danube Script: The Danube Script and the Old European Goddess.” Fifty years of Tartaria Excavations. Festschrift in honor of Gheorghe Lazarovici on the occasion of his 73rd birthday. Ed. Joan Marler. (Sponsored by “Eftimie Murgu” University, Resita and the Institute of Archaeomythology, Sebastopol.) Sebastopol: Institute of Archaeomythology; Reşiţa: Universitatea “Eftimie Murgu,” 139–161.

Robbins Dexter, Miriam and Victor H. Mair. 2010. Sacred Display: Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia. Amherst, New York: Cambria Press.

Robbins Dexter, Miriam and Edgar C. Polomé, eds. 1997. Varia on the Indo-European Past: Papers in Memory of Marija Gimbutas. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph #19. Washington, DC: The Institute for the Study of Man.

Gimbutas, Marija. 1997. The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe: Selected articles from 1952 to 1993, eds. Miriam Robbins Dexter and Karlene Jones-Bley. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph #18. Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man.

Gimbutas, Marija. 1999. The Living Goddesses, ed. and supplemented by Miriam Robbins Dexter. Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press. Paperback edition 2001.

1990. Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book. Pergamon Press, Athene Series. Reprinted by Teachers College Press, Columbia University, Athene Series, 1992.