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February Book Review

Today's review covers one of my favorite books: Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. She has written another, more academic book called Prehistoric Textiles which covers textile development more in depth.

In Women's Work, however, she has pieced together the anecdotes and other information that provides the non-academic a concise book to read, while giving enough information that should one want to dive in deeper, it is possible.

One of the things that I enjoy about this book is watching how she teases out information from items that I would not necessarily see such as Egyptian tomb paintings. She explains that looking where the weaver is positioned discerns the style of loom used: if the weavers weaves from beside the loom then it is the traditional horizontal loom (stretched out straight along the full length of the warp); if she is in front of the loom, with her knees to one side then she is probably weaving on a vertical loom similar to the one of the cover of the book.

Near the beginning of the book, she gives a rough timeline, not in the Year 1000 BC was this invented, but in a general aspect for the Bronze Age in Sumeria was not at the same time that the Bronze Age in Ireland was. The second timeline helps me when writing ancient historical novels by showing me a general outline of what happened in a time period.

It's a fascinating read, from both the historical aspect of found items and tomb paintings as well as literary references and folk traditions. I have found that the information in the book has developed my novel set in 18th Dynasty Egypt, as well as help develop fantasy or science fiction worlds that might not be as far technologically advanced as the modern world is.

If you are interested in the history of weaving and spinning (knitting was not invented until modern times) then this is a good beginning book.


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