From: “The Future Has An Ancient Heart”
By: Professor Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum Ph.D
(July 2005 – Berkeley University, California)
“A fired professor after 1969 (I went on strike at San Francisco State supporting students who struck for Black studies and against the imperialist war in Vietnam) and independent scholar, I was intent on finding my Sicilian grandmothers and my own ancestral beliefs…a quest that has led me to Africa.
My on-site explorations of Italian feminists and Black Madonnas of Europe led me to realize the importance of suppressed beliefs. By 2001, when ‘Dark Mother, African Origins and Godmothers’ was first published, I had concluded that the memory of the African dark Mother has persisted for millennia to the present, not only in indigenous subaltern cultures, but in unconscious or preconscious levels of memory of everyone, on all continents.
The Black African Mother has drawn me, particularly since 1988 when I was very moved by the Black Madonna in Holy Week processions at Trapani (in western Sicily on an African migration path)… study of African migrations led me to realize that the Auvergne of France, where there is a very high concentration of Black Madonnas, was a region early reached by navigating and migrating Africans from the Atlantic Ocean, as well as upriver from the Mediterranean.
In France (and elsewhere) the continuous presence of signs, and after 25,000 BCE, of icons of Black women…underlined for me the long duration of ultimately African beliefs. Bringing a feminist cultural perspective to Archaeology, I have reflected that menhirs and dolmens (which we have found all over the Mediterranean) may be markers of African migration paths throughout the world. Menhirs are upright stones; dolmens are two vertical menhirs, holding up a horizontal menhir.
Menhirs and dolmens characterized our first religious sanctuary – created by migrating Africans in the Sinai 40,000 BCE. This first religious sanctuary, located in the place Muslims call Har Karkom and Jews and Christians call Mount Sinai, is the founding place of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is a stunning datum discovered by Italian archaeologist Emmanuel Anati, a datum whose implications I am just now realizing… African religious beliefs are documented in the archaeology of the origin place in the Sinai of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The meaning of dolmens is suggested in African cave paintings of two figures carrying a horizontal dead person. On African migration paths, dolmens were sites of funerary and burial rituals. Jean Clottes, major archaeologist of France, attributes religious significance to menhirs and dolmens. Marija Gimbutas associated menhirs with 25,000 BCE stone women… In the south of France two significant menhirs are statues of women divinities – the Venus of Laussel – holding a lunar calendar…suggesting menstruation and pregnancy, and the Venus of Lespugue. a woman figure sculpted all in rounds.