Abstract: Critical approaches to the influence of Johann Jakob Bachofen’s aspect of the reception of Bachofen’s ideas about ancient matriarchy that I will be. There are no works listed on Wikisource for this author. If you’d like to add a new text, please review Help:Adding texts. Johann Jakob Bachofen (–) was a Swiss jurist, student of Greco- Roman antiquity, and anthropologist. Bachofen came from a prominent Basel family.

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Johann Jakob Bachofen December 22, — November 25, was a Swiss anthropologist and sociologistfamous for his theory of matriarchy and his work on the role of women in ancient societies. His work brought attention to the religious veneration of goddesses such as Aphrodite and Demeterprominent in ancient cultures. His suggestion that cultures evolved from early societies dominated by jamob goddesses and earthly women was novel and exciting.

Johann Jakob Bachofen – New World Encyclopedia

While his work stimulated much research and writing, the data did not bear out his theories. Nevertheless, at a time when patriarchal societies dominated, the need to bring out the feminine aspect of God and human beings was real. Johann Jakob Bachofen was born on December 22, in Basel, Switzerlandfirst johqnn of a wealthy merchant family.

His father had a ribbon factory and was a descendant from a long line of merchants. After finishing high school with honors, Bachofen went on to study law and sciences in the universities of Berlin and Gottingen. Already inat the bachoten of 23, he finished his doctoral studies. After that, he went to the University of Paris and CambridgeEngland for two additional years of study.

Johann Jakob Bachofen

He was made professor of the history of Roman law at the University of Basel inserving in that position until At the same time, he was working as a judge at the Basel criminal court — Inhe resigned his professorial position after being accused of obtaining this position solely due to his higher social standing. He remained working as a judge for the next 20 years, but completely withdrew from public life. It was in these years that he began studying history. He was bacjofen interested in the nature and proper method of the study of history, a topic that would occupy his thoughts until the end of his life.


Bachofen liked solitude and never had many friends. Inhe met the beautiful Louise Elisabeth Burckhardt, 30 years his junior, whom he married the same year.

Author:Johann Jakob Bachofen

Their only son was born in Bachofen started to focus his career on research in the s. He undertook several long journeys to ItalyFranceSpainand Greecewhere he studied ancient civilizations.

His masterwork Das Mutterrecht was published inbut it went mostly unnoticed. Bachofen continued to do research until his death.

Bachofen was interested in the development of social organizations. He analyzed myths and archaeological artifacts in order to reconstruct the social landscape of the ancient world. He was also able to show that in different societies marriage and family took different forms, and that societies developed from matriarchalin early societies, toward predominantly patriarchalin Bachofen’s time. He presented a radically new view of the role of women in a broad range of ancient societies.

Bachofen assembled documentation to demonstrate that motherhood was the keystone of human society, religionmoralityand decorum drawing upon societies in Lycia, Crete, GreeceEgyptIndiaCentral Asia, North Africaand Spain. He concluded the work by connecting archaic “mother right” with the Christian veneration of the Virgin Mary.

Johann Jakob Bachofen |

Bachofen’s model was based on an imaginative interpretation of the existing archaeological evidence of his time, and tells us as much about Bachofen’s own time as it does the past. Bachofen applied evolutionary theories to the development of culture in a manner that is no longer considered valid, and modern archaeology and literary analysis have invalidated many details of his historical conclusions.

Nevertheless, the origins of all modern studies of the role of women in classical antiquity are found in Bachofen, criticizing his model and developing new understandings based on correcting it.


There was one contemporary of Bachofen who supported his work. Alexis Giraud-Teulon, an anthropologist from Genevawas a great admirer of his ideas on the importance of matriarchies in ancient societies. They corresponded by letter, and Giraud-Teulon developed his own version of Bachofen’s theory which regarded the matriarchal phase not as a general stage of societal development but as a special appearance which can be traced only to certain pre-Indo-European cultures.

His work eventually inspired several generations of ethnologistssocial philosophers, and writers: Thus, Bachofen’s work can be understood as an important precursor of twentieth century theories of matriarchy that still echo today, such as the Old European culture postulated by Marija Gimbutas, and the field bachpfen feminist theology and “Matriarchal Studies” in feminism.

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Next Johann Jakob Froberger. Johann Jakob Bachofen’s seminal work Mother Right presented a radically new view of the role of women in a broad range of ancient societies.

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