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

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

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While men dominated early agriculture, women for millennia took primary responsibility for sewing, weaving textiles and making clothing. In this beautifully illustrated study, Barber (Prehistoric Textiles) retrieves an important chapter in the history of civilization by drawing on archeological evidence, ancient texts, myths and linguistics to reconstruct women's paramount role in the fiber arts until the start of the late Bronze Age, about 1500 B.C., when, Barber observes, the advent of commercial textiles brought men to the looms. In prehistoric Europe, women invented elaborate textiles with complex designs; women of ancient Anatolia ran cloth-making establishments. Barber begins her saga with the description of a Paleolithic ``Venus figure'' that dates from about 20,000 B.C. and is carved wearing a skirt woven of loose strings. Ranging from Egypt to Greece to Sumatra, covering the period from 20,000-500 B.C., Barber illuminates women's changing social status as makers of cloth and clothing.
Library Journal
In this age of ready-to-wear clothing and shopping malls, we sometimes forget that for the first 20,000 years of human existence, all textiles-from everyday clothing to ship's sails-were made by women (and sometimes men) who used a hand spindle to spin threads and a loom to weave the threads into cloth. As an archaeologist and a knowledgeable weaver capable of reproducing the cloth remnants she is studying, Barber is ideally qualified to investigate early textile production and its relation to women's changing roles in ancient societies. Here she reconstructs the history of textiles (primarily in Europe and the Near East), based on the hard evidence of archaeology, geology, art, and ancient texts. Her approach is scholarly yet presupposes no practical knowledge of textile production on the part of the reader. -- Janice Zlendich, California State University Library, Fullerton
Barber uses data gathered by sophisticated new methods of studying the past, shaping a wealth of information on textiles as one of women's most important contributions to past societies. She examines the relationship of women and their textile work to society and economics over the huge span of prehistoric and early historic times, and chronicles the growth of the textile industry, fashion, and ancient costume. Includes numerous b&w drawings and some photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
0.10(w) x 0.10(h) x 0.10(d)

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