Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - Social Science - 334 pages
69 Reviews
New discoveries about the textile arts reveal women's unexpectedly influential role in ancient societies.

Twenty thousand years ago, women were making and wearing the first clothing created from spun fibers. In fact, right up to the Industrial Revolution the fiber arts were an enormous economic force, belonging primarily to women.

Despite the great toil required in making cloth and clothing, most books on ancient history and economics have no information on them. Much of this gap results from the extreme perishability of what women produced, but it seems clear that until now descriptions of prehistoric and early historic cultures have omitted virtually half the picture.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber has drawn from data gathered by the most sophisticated new archaeological methods—methods she herself helped to fashion. In a "brilliantly original book" (Katha Pollitt, Washington Post Book World), she argues that women were a powerful economic force in the ancient world, with their own industry: fabric.
  

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Excellent book - excellent read - lovely insights - Goodreads
For a scholarly work, it's easy to read. - Goodreads
Very well researched and engangingly written. - Goodreads
Wonderful book, full of insights. - Goodreads
The data is well researched & analyzed. - Goodreads
I can spin wool into yarn anywhere and any time. - Goodreads

Review: Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

User Review  - Kerry - Goodreads

The premise of this research is incredibly interesting - Due to the perishable nature of most textiles and clothing, archaeological studies have typically refrained from spending any significant time ... Read full review

Review: Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

User Review  - Abigail Faust - Goodreads

This book was different than what I was expecting. I was expecting kind of a history more related to the tools of spinning and weaving and what this actually was is a reconstruction of life way back ... Read full review

All 13 reviews »

Contents

A Tradition with a Reason
29
The String Revolution
42
Courtyard Sisterhood
71
Island Fever
101
More than Hearts on Our Sleeves
127
Elements or the Code
147
Cloth for the Caravans
164
Land or Linen
185
The Gold Spindle
207
Behind the Myths
232
Plain or Fancy New or Tried and True
257
Postscript Finding the Invisible
286
ILLUSTRATION AND CREDIT LIST
301
SOURCES
306
INDEX
323
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Elizabeth Wayland Barber is the author of Women's Work and The Mummies of Ürümchi. Professor emerita of archaeology and linguistics at Occidental College, she lives in California.

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