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Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years

Title: Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years
Author: Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Publisher: Norton
My mother liked to weave and sew, so I grew up with interesting textiles all around, learning to sew and weave for myself at an early age. I was constantly being made aware of the form, color, and texture of cloth. Textiles have a particular crossing structure that dictates what sorts of patterns will be easy and obvious to weave or, conversely, hard to weave. Thus later, when I began to study Classical and Bronze Age Mediterranean archaeology at college, I soon noticed decorations on durable things like pottery and walls that looked as if they had been copied from typical weaving patterns. But when I suggested this idea to archaeologists, they responded that nobody could have known how to weave such complicated textiles so early. The answer was hard to refute, on the face of it, because very few textiles have come down to us from before medieval times, outside of Egypt, where people generally wore plain white linen.

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