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[Longhorn Review] Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

Material Type: All, books — Tags: history, textiles, women — Posted on November 10, 2008, 2:46 pm

By: Barber, E. J. W.

The best parts of this book are the chapters on the development of string.
Barber’s hypothesis is the ability to make string is an important precursor to the
development of civilization. Her point is that once people can make string, then
they can tie things together. This means you can make rope and rope can be used to
tether an animal or child, it can be used to make fishing lines, fishnets, bags and
just as importantly you can use string to carry items on your back. Once you can
carry loads then you can begin to move goods. And once you can do these things you
are on track to make coiled pottery and weave. What interested me the most was the
description of how easy it is to make string. The easiest way is to use already
existing vines, the second step according to Ms Barber is to take plant fibers and
roll them on your leg to make an every expanding string. Rope is merely a number of
strings put together. The evidence cited in this book is pottery and wall paintings,
since most fabric doesn’t survive. Barber examined thousands of early pots and
paintings looking for evidence of early cloth making.

Reviewer: Susan Ardis

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