Ariska Idoler. Den indoeuropeiska mytologin som ideologi och vetenskap

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


By using ancient texts, medieval documents, philological observations, and archaeological artifacts, scholars have reconstructed a prehistorical world and religion. The people who upheld this culture have been named, inter alia, "Indo-Europeans", "Aryans", "Japhetites" and "Wiros". Yet, these people have not left any texts, no artifacts can with certainty be ascribed to them, nor do we know any individual "Indo-European" by name. Despite this, scholars have, with help from daring historical, linguistic and archaeological reconstructions, persistently tried to reach the ancient Indo-Europeans in hopes of finding the foundations for their own culture and religion. The main hypothesis of this thesis is that these pre-historical peoples have not occupied modern man because they were important as historical agents, but because they were, with the words of Claude Lévi-Strauss, "good to think". The interest in "the Indo-Europeans", "the Aryans" and their "Others" — which latter group has at times been described as Jews, Savages, Orientals, Aristocrats, priests, matriarchal farmers, martial pastoralists, French liberals, and/or German nationalists — was (and still is) motivated by a wish to construct alternatives to those identities given by tradition. The study of the Indo-Europeans, their culture and religion, has been a way to produce new concepts, new identities and thus an alternative future. Chapter 1 describes how the concept of an Indo-European entity evolved during the 18th and 19th centuries out of speculations on the identity of different people mentioned in the Bible, out of the discovery of similarities between Indic and European languages, and out of romantic ideas about race and Volk. Chapter 2 deals with the first paradigm in the Indo-European studies, the Nature-Mythological school, and its relationship to Christianity, anti-Semitism and liberal-bourgeois mentality. Chapter 3 discusses the "primitivization" of the "Indo-Europeans" that developt at the end of the 19th century due to nationalism and vitalistic philosophy. Chapter 4 analyses the relationship between the study of Indo-Germanic or Aryan religion in the Third Reich and Nazi ideology. Chapter 5 treats theories that were created as alternative to Nazi scholarship by fascist, Catholic scholars. That chapter also deals with the developments in the study of Indo-European religion and culture during the last half of the 20th century


  • Stefan Arvidsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Religions


  • George Dumézil, Wilhelm Schmidt, Aryan, Indo-European, History of Religion, Mythology, Myth, Historiography, Humanities, Ideology, Philology, Old Norse Myth, Germanic Religion, Vedic Religion, Friedrich Max Müller, Greek Religion, Marija Gimbutas, Theology, Teologi
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2000 Sep 30
  • Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
Print ISBNs91-7139-495-8
StatePublished - 2000
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2000-09-30 Time: 10:00 Place: Edens hörsal External reviewer(s) Name: von Schnurbein, Stefanie Title: [unknown] Affiliation: [unknown] --- The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: History and Anthropology of Religions (015017025), General History and Anthropology of Religions (015017030)