Natural History and

The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory

J. M. Adovasio, Author, Olga Soffer, Author, Jake Page, Author . Collins/Smithsonian $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-117091-1

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.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
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Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-06-117092-8
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Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-185320-3
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