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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology

The Invisible Sex Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory

By: JM Adovasio(Author), Olga Soffer(Author), Jake Page(Author)
302 pages, b/w photos, b/w maps
Publisher: Routledge
The Invisible Sex
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  • The Invisible Sex ISBN: 9781598743906 Paperback Feb 2009 Usually dispatched within 1 week
  • The Invisible Sex ISBN: 9781138404656 Hardback Jun 2017 Usually dispatched within 1 week
Selected version: £34.99
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About this book

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. Recent archaeological research has shown that this vision bears little relation to reality. J. M. Adovasio and Olga Soffer, two of the world's leading experts on perishable artifacts such as basketry, cordage, and weaving, present an exciting new look at prehistory. With science writer Jake Page, they argue 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.

Customer Reviews


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) and excavator of Meadowcroft Rockshelter, an archaeological site in Pennsylvania that revolutionized ideas of human settlement in the Americas.

Olga Soffer, formerly a fashion industry insider, is a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a world-renowned specialist on the prehistory of Russia and Eastern Europe and on the origins of art.

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.

By: JM Adovasio(Author), Olga Soffer(Author), Jake Page(Author)
302 pages, b/w photos, b/w maps
Publisher: Routledge
Media reviews

"A fascinating book with a global perspective that is rare in contemporary discussions of prehistory. The Invisible Sex weaves the fundamental issues about women in remote prehistory into a broader analysis of human evolution. There are many issues about prehistoric men and women that we will never be able to answer, but this engaging and readable book gives us a useful baseline for further research. It will be much quoted and used."
– Brian Fagan, University of California Santa Barbara, emeritus

"They argue persuasively that the anthropologists and archaeologists of the past were invested in the conventional sex roles of their time. This often rendered them blind to the implications of some of their finds and uninterested in the crucial roles that women probably played in prehistoric communities."

"Helps flesh out a more plausible female role in prehistory than has been offered previously. In many ways, this book is a much-needed antidote to the past hundred years of popular and scientific writing on prehistoric human life, and avoids the cliched pitfall of veering too far into a hyper-feminist view."

"The authors offer up some less ambiguous evidence that women's roles in developing culture were at least commensurate with those of men in several important areas. Women, according other authors, had an important part to play in the agricultural revolution. Just as important, though perhaps less well appreciated, women in both ancient and modern cultures have been the ones involved most directly in producing textiles."
Natural History

"Raquel Welch in a loincloth? The frightened, helpless mama in the dioramas of Natural History museums? The Invisible Sex blows all these myths out of the cave. Written by a renowned archaeologist, an anthropologist, and a science journalist, this book disproves many theories about prehistoric females and males. It argues that women probably hunted, invented agriculture, and created spoken language, and that the womanly arts of weaving nets and baskets and clothing were critical to survival and evolution."

"The Invisible Sex is science writing at its best. It has all the drama of a good mystery and grabs your attention in the same way. It is so fascinating, you don't even realize how much you are learning."
– Jean M. Auel

"I enjoyed The Invisible Sex a lot. It is well-written, lively, coherent, and says the right things."
– Sarah M. Nelson, University of Denver, emerita

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