Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226028606 Published September 2006

Aryan Idols

Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science

Stefan Arvidsson

Aryan Idols

Stefan Arvidsson

Translated by Sonia Wichmann
320 pages | 23 halftones, 6 line drawings, 17 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2006
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226028606 Published September 2006
Critically examining the discourse of Indo-European scholarship over the past two hundred years, Aryan Idols demonstrates how the interconnected concepts of “Indo-European” and “Aryan” as ethnic categories have been shaped by, and used for, various ideologies.
Stefan Arvidsson traces the evolution of the Aryan idea through the nineteenth century—from its roots in Bible-based classifications and William Jones’s discovery of commonalities among Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek to its use by scholars in fields such as archaeology, anthropology, folklore, comparative religion, and history. Along the way, Arvidsson maps out the changing ways in which Aryans were imagined and relates such shifts to social, historical, and political processes. Considering the developments of the twentieth century, Arvidsson focuses on the adoption of Indo-European scholarship (or pseudoscholarship) by the Nazis and by Fascist Catholics.

A wide-ranging discussion of the intellectual history of the past two centuries,  Aryan Idols links the pervasive idea of the Indo-European people to major scientific, philosophical, and political developments of the times, while raising important questions about the nature of scholarship as well.
1. From Noah’s Sons to the Aryan Race: The Foundation Is Laid
2. A Place in the Sun: The Paradigm of Nature Mythology
3. Primitive Aryans: Research near the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
4. Order and Barbarianism: Aryan Religion in the Third Reich
5. Horsemen from the East: Alternatives to Nazi Research

Review Quotes
Michael Witzel | Science
"Aryan fantasies have indicated the inherent dangers most clearly, and here lies one of the enduring merits of Arvidsson's book: it indicates how we can actually learn from history."
Religious Studies Review
"The book should serve as a warning about the uses and misuses (inadvertently or deliberately) of scholarship. Aryan Idols is accessible, well written, and should be a welcome addition to courses on the history and historiography of religion."
Ulrike Sommer | Cambridge Archaeological Journal
"A valuable introduction to the subject for anybody interested in Indo-European studies."
Maria Carlson | Folklorica
"This brief review cannot do justice to the many issues that Arvidsson raises--not only about our understanding of what the Indo-European discourse is, but also about why it exists and in what terms and contexts. . . . [The] work exposes prevailing assumptions, documents and summarizes the discourse, and opens provocative new perspectives on the troublesome but perpetually fascinating concept of the Indo-European."
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