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

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - Social Science - 334 pages
21 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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
20
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bunwat - LibraryThing

Extremely readable and still scholarly overview of women's textile work from the Stone Age through to the very early Iron Age in Eurasia. Fascinating information about all sorts of wonderful things ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ScotDeerie - LibraryThing

Not only does this book tell us how spinning and weaving became "women's work", it tells us how long ago and how hard women have been working to clothe their families for thousands of years. It is a ... Read full review

All 14 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

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

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.

Bibliographic information