The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory

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9780061170911: The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory

Shaped by cartoons and museum dioramas, our vision of Paleolithic times tends to feature fur-clad male hunters fearlessly attacking mammoths while timid women hover fearfully behind a boulder. Recent archaeological research has shown that this vision bears little relation to reality. J. M. Adovasio and Olga Soffer, two of the world's leading experts on perishable artifacts such as basketry, cordage, and weaving, present an exciting new look at prehistory. With science writer Jake Page, they argue that women invented all kinds of critical materials, including the clothing necessary for life in colder climates, the ropes used to make rafts that enabled long-distance travel by water, and nets used for communal hunting. Even more important, women played a central role in the development of language and social life?in short, in our becoming human. In this eye-opening book, a new story about women in prehistory emerges with provocative implications for our assumptions about gender today.

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Product Description:

HardCover Pub Date: 2007 02 Pages: 320 in Publisher: the Smithsonian Shaped by cartoons and museum dioramas our visio of Paleolithic times tends to feature fur-clad male hunters fearlessly attacking the mammoths the while timid women hover fearfully behind a boulder In fact. recent research has shown that this vision bears little relation to reality.The field of archaeology has changed dramatically in the past two decades. as women have challenged their male colleagues' exclusive focus on hard artifacts such as spear points rather than tougher to find evidence of women's work. JM Adovasio and Olga Soffer are two of the world's leading experts on perishable artifacts such as basketry. cordage. and weaving. In The Invisible Sex. the authors present an exciting new look at prehistory. arguing that women invented all kinds of critical materials. including the clothing necessary ...

Review:

"A fascinating book with a global perspective that is rare in contemporary discussions of prehistory. The Invisible Sex weaves the fundamental issues about women in remote prehistory into a broader analysis of human evolution. There are many issues about prehistoric men and women that we will never be able to answer, but this engaging and readable book gives us a useful baseline for further research. It will be much quoted and used."-Brian Fagan, University of California Santa Barbara, emeritus

"They argue persuasively that the anthropologists and archaeologists of the past were invested in the conventional sex roles of their time. This often rendered them blind to the implications of some of their finds and uninterested in the crucial roles that women probably played in prehistoric communities." -salon.com

"Helps flesh out a more plausible female role in prehistory than has been offered previously. In many ways, this book is a much-needed antidote to the past hundred years of popular and scientific writing on prehistoric human life, and avoids the cliched pitfall of veering too far into a hyper-feminist view." -Nature

"The authors offer up some less ambiguous evidence that women's roles in developing culture were at least commensurate with those of men in several important areas. Women, according other authors, had an important part to play in the agricultural revolution. Just as important, though perhaps less well appreciated, women in both ancient and modern cultures have been the ones involved most directly in producing textiles." -Natural History

"Raquel Welch in a loincloth? The frightened, helpless mama in the dioramas of Natural History museums? The Invisible Sex blows all these myths out of the cave. Written by a renowned archaeologist, an anthropologist, and a science journalist, this book disproves many theories about prehistoric females and males. It argues that women probably hunted, invented agriculture, and created spoken language, and that the womanly arts of weaving nets and baskets and clothing were critical to survival and evolution." -Bust
The Invisible Sex is science writing at its best. It has all the drama of a good mystery and grabs your attention in the same way. It is so fascinating, you don't even realize how much you are learning. - Jean M. Auel
A fascinating book with a global perspective that is rare in contemporary discussions of prehistory. The Invisible Sex weaves the fundamental issues about women in remote prehistory into a broader analysis of human evolution. There are many issues about prehistoric men and women that we will never be able to answer, but this engaging and readable book gives us a useful baseline for further research. It will be much quoted and used. - Brian Fagan, University of California Santa Barbara, emeritus
I enjoyed The Invisible Sex a lot. It is well-written, lively, coherent, and says the right things. -Sarah M. Nelson, University of Denver, emerita
They argue persuasively that the anthropologists and archaeologists of the past were invested in the conventional sex roles of their time. This often rendered them blind to the implications of some of their finds and uninterested in the crucial roles that women probably played in prehistoric communities. - Salon.com
Helps flesh out a more plausible female role in prehistory than has been offered previously. In many ways, this book is a much-needed antidote to the past hundred years of popular and scientific writing on prehistoric human life, and avoids the cliched pitfall of veering too far into a hyper-feminist view.- Nature

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