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. 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. J. M. 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 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.
This jauntily written, highly convincing analysis by influential anthropologists Adovasio and Soffer and former editor of Natural History and Smithsonian Page argues that women of prehistory were pivotal in a wide range of culture-building endeavors, including the invention of language, the origins of agriculture and the conceptualization of boat building. Although based on the most current scientific evidence, these theories are presented as accessibly as possible, with frequent humorous asides and a wide range of popular cultural touchstones, from Charles Darwin to The Clan of the Cave Bear. The authors offer concepts that radically challenge our preconceptions of human behavior and history. They argue, for instance, that brain development and an increase in longevity that produced extended families, especially grandmothers, brought about a "creative revolution" in the Late Paleolithic period (about 30,000 years ago). The authors also include a fascinating discussion of the possible role of goddess worship in prehistoric society and its relationship to contemporary New Age feminism. Highly readable, well argued, and always fascinating, this critique of traditional anthropology is an important addition to both scientific and feminist literature. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Decent Book
Posted March 15, 2008 by chance.williams77 , MDThis was a decent book, fairly interesting, and it brought up some points I had never really given any thought before. On that level, I think it really suceeds at its goal. I think it has a weakness in that it seems almost as obsessed with men as it claims most scientists in the field are. Minus one point. I also would have liked to see more detailed information on male-female dynamics and relations. If such info doesn't exist yet, which I believe they said, fine. At least make your speculation a little more detailed and give it context by comparing it to our current western culture. Minus another half point for 3.5 point total.
January 21, 2008
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