Joan Marler is the founder of the Institute of Archaeomythology (IAM), with its main office in Sebastopol (CA, USA) and its European Branch in Finland (Luumäki). In the later years of her life, the eminent scholar Marija Gimbutas expressed the intention to create an enduring forum for interdisciplinary research activities on the theme of Old Europe, but she died before her vision could materialize. It is Joan Marler's merit to have acted upon this vision as part of the legacy of Marija Gimbutas, her mentor, with whom she had the privilege to collaborate for seven years. During those years, she edited numerous articles by Marija Gimbutas as well as her magnum opus, The Civilization of the Goddess (1991).
As president and executive director of IAM, Joan Marler has invited other scholars to participate in this joint venture, to honor the legacy of her mentor's vision. I am among those who have dedicated their activities to the scope of this research institute and, as vice president of IAM and a member in the board of directors, I enjoy collaborating with Joan Marler in the spirit of Marija Gimbutas' legacy. As director of the European Branch I consider it my task to organize and coordinate research projects on topics of the ancient civilization of Old Europe, with its egalitarian social structures and gender equality, and on the continuity of its sociocultural ingredients in subsequent cultures, ultimately highlighting patterns of this first high culture of humankind that have persisted in our cultural memory. A major topic is the critical evaluation of mythological themes with their potential capacity to hold information (however veiled) about ancient social and cultural developments.