Synopses & Reviews
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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“THE INVISIBLE SEX is science writing at its best. ...you dont even realize how much you are learning.” & #151;Jean M. Auel
“A fascinating book… engaging and readable. It will be much quoted and used.” -Brian Fagan, author of People of the Earth
“The biased guessing in a lot of old-school anthropology comes in for some pointed ridicule in THE INVISIBLE SEX.” --Salon.com
Two leading archeologists challenge assumptions about mankind's earliest days, arguing that women played a central role in the development of language and social life--in short, in our becoming human.
About the Author
J. M. Adovasio, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pennsylvania. He is the author of The First Americans
(with Jake Page).
Olga Soffer, formerly a fashion industry insider, is a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Jake Page was the founding editor of Doubleday's Natural History Press, as well as editorial director of Natural History magazine and science editor of Smithsonian magazine. He has written more than forty books on the natural sciences, zoological topics, and Native American affairs, as well as mystery fiction. He and his wife live in northern Colorado with six dogs and a steady supply of dog hair, available free.