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Publisher's Summary

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 newer 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.

©1994 Elizabeth Wayland Barber (P)2019 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Women's Work

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Respectful treatment of the archeological record.

Dedication to rigorous innovative archeological technique rather than innovative speculation makes this compelling. Well Done!

7 people found this helpful

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If you want to know what women were doing…

while old white men were out creating the world and stealing history, this is (one of) your book(s). Well written, well paced interesting, informative. Nicely done. Makes clear the importance of women’s contribution to the advancement of civilization, even during times when they were enslaved by their spouses and never permitted to leave the house.

5 people found this helpful

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Amazing collection of info

I am a fiber nerd. I have crocheted since I was 5, more than 50 years now. Over the years I have picked up many fiber related skill. Spinning is my most cherished. This book affirmed my passion in many ways. Well researched and delivered. I will listen many times. Fiber nerds, I can not recommend this more highly! Yes, you NEED this book😁

3 people found this helpful

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Simply Wonderful.

I have this book in print as well. Fascinating history of women and their relationship to textiles.

3 people found this helpful

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Thoughtful and engaging.

Great read for anyone interested in textiles or the role of women in earliest civilizations. Excellent narrator!

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Fascinating But Disorganized

Combines thorough research with some engaging autobiographical storytelling, but it seemed to skip around a lot. The organization appeared to not be based on strict chronology or be a discussion of any one technology/method after another. I'm not sure what the overarching organizational scheme was, but the reading experience suffered because it didn't take a more comprehensible approach.

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I love it

I absolutely love this book. The author does a wonderful job of explaining her topic and making it real and the reader is excellent!

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Wonderful information, fresh, informative,

A great building block for history and a fresh take on processing information via a holistic approach.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-06-21

Interesting listen

loved this book and leaning alot more than just the role of women in society past. thank you

1 person found this helpful

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  • K. Chard
  • 03-14-20

Not as great as expected

I took a long time to get through this one, I expected to love it due to the title. The story teller didn't grab me with their telling of it. Disappointed.

1 person found this helpful