Did Indo-Europeans create Patriarchy?


Regular Member
Reaction score
Ethnic group
southern EUROPEAN
I don't know if you're familiar to it. But, some feminist historians say many Neolithic societies were 'matriarchal'(or at least women have more freedom).
But the arrival of strict social stratification with IndoEuropeans hirse-riders, made people to value more these new highly-mobile warriors and confine women into the home.
This is suggested by the progressive dissapearence of Goddesses, among many other things.
Could this be in part due to the big inequality between Neolithic and even Paleolithic female haplogroups, in contrast with the advanced IndoEuropeans crafters and skilled shepherds?
Is something that I've begun to think, those men came from a much privileged background than women, so wouldn't be odd if they put themselves much higher in the social hierarchy.
It has also been suggested that these new fierce control that Kingdoms give over people were detrimental to women.
However I disagree, in part because the Romans and Greeks said they fought less civilized peoples with much more 'liberties' for women.
One of these are Spartans. Spartans women were suppossed to be much more free than their Athens counterparts.... Even though Sparta was a brutal people, not very feminist I think.
Its a myth that don't want to leave the peoples head until today.

There is no archaeological or genetic evidence for matrilocal or matrilinear society in known neolithic cultures of Europe. The opposite is true, genetic evidence points toward patriotically kinship patters and distance wide bride trading in neolithic societies like the LBK(Linear Pottey)

While the Kurgan Theory by Marija Gimbutas is widely accepted as the current model of genetic replacement in late neolithic, her other ideas are proven wrong.

Same goes for the idea that these societies where without social status and hierarchy. This assumption is build up on the misconception that early LBK settlements displayed the main type of social organization. The early settlements had lesser inequality, because the land was owned by a single or some newcomer families. But the more they established their economy and competition for space and resources began in the settlements and around it, elite families and individuals emerge.

Also the burials display no evidence for an egalitarian society, because you can find the same patterns of graves like in the most cultures of Europe. Elite graves with more jewelry and tools and graves with no or lesser goods.

There where no peaceful times beyond the founding phase of LBK settlements, constant inner group conflicts and also larger organized wars where part of daily life in neolithic settlements, which reached sometimes up to 10.000 individuals and more per city. There are many skeletons with traces of war and also torture, suggested ritual executions.

The reason why a society is more driven to male dominance in religion, culture and political power can emerge from religious ideas, but also current problems a society is facing or resources it can use. In societies where men are needed for war because of constant conflict, infanticide of female babies can emerge, same when religious ideas create a disadvantage for the family because of loss of goods or money for a married girl. When the main income of a family is dependent on men's work, or women are forbid to work because of religious ideas, femicide of babies can also occur.

Female rulers or royalty lines are a common phenomenon around the world and are linked to special political situations, one cannot exclude that those kind of hierarchy patters existed in neolithic times, but this is not the same as matriarchy or modern feminist ideas of a “perfect world for girls and women”
I agree with that.
I don't believe in that theory.
I just wanted to point out why that misconception about societies before 'deep inequality and stratification'
But I also think is fundamentally wrong to assume a prehistoric world without control(or unless try) over women.
There where no peaceful times beyond the founding phase of LBK settlements, constant inner group conflicts and also larger organized wars where part of daily life in neolithic settlements, which reached sometimes up to 10.000 individuals and more per city. There are many skeletons with traces of war and also torture, suggested ritual executions.

Actually even the peaceful character of the earlier Neolithic settlements is questionable, especially in those regions which were already more densely populated by the Mesolithic foragers. It seems some of the LBK settlements were positioned strategically and in a way which mimics a militarised frontier. So it was a colonisation which, if possible and necessary, used war and violence to secure the expansion.

The foragers too fought their wars, as did foragers which could be documented by modern scholars around the world. Most rather peaceful people in comparison to general human standards (not generally peaceful) either eliminated their competitors before or were forced to live in an isolated region which was unwanted by others or were simply so isolated that they had no competitors left.

Patriarchy seems to have been widespread before the Indoeuropeans and is simply the most efficient mode of familial and social organisation. We can see, in higher developed cultures, the tendency of very prosperous and successful people living in an advanced societal organisation and state to become actually less patriarchal, over time and in some respects, while losing a lot of the familial cohesion and efficiency the patriarchal clan societies have.

The pre-Indoeuropeans seem to have been in some respects as or even more patriarchal in Europe - with some possible exceptions in the Mediterranean. What might have been more typical for Indoeuropean pastoralists however could be, but the absence is hard to prove for other people in prehistory, is their agnatic patrilinearity, which might have made it easier to keep cohesion and assimilate foreign women. This means they primarily counted the father, the paternal lineage, for any kind of familial relationship. Everything being focused on the mythical forefather. That way even cousins and distant cousins could be considered closer kin, if being descendents of the same male progenitor, being part of the same paternal clan.
The organisation along the patrilinear descent seems to have been very strict and exclusive among the Proto-Indoeuropeans.

This had two advantages, because it made it easier:
- to assimilate foreign women
- to keep large groups of paternal kin together

We see this in the PIE language, which had practically no to very little vocabularly for the female kin and oftentimes refers, if mentioning it, to it more indirectly, like with their relationship to the husbands family. Its safe to assume this was caused by fairly strict patrilinearity and patrilocality, as well as a tendency towards more strict exogamy.
The other proof comes from genetic and the obviously very strict organisation of the early PIE along patrilinear kinship, with the matrilinear side being just incorporated.

Its interesting to compare this pattern with GAC and other pre-IE Neolithic inhabitants, because they seem to have been in many respects similar, but probably slightly less strictly organised along patrilinear ancestry, but even more important, they seem to have had more inbreeding, less exogamy, probably smaller marriage exchange networks and probably even a stronger tendency towards polygyny.

Some people might confuse different aspects of the debate, like strict exogamy, patrilocality and patrilinearity with general patriarchy, but these terms and issues are not the same. There were largely patriarchal societies with matrilinear tendencies and vice versa, for example.

This thread has been viewed 2976 times.