String and Stories

  • David Turnbull
Living reference work entry
Elizabeth Barber in her classic Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years made the profound observation:

We don’t know how early to date this great discovery - of making string as long and as strong as needed by twisting short filaments together… Soft flexible thread of this sort is a necessary prerequisite to making woven cloth. On a far more basic level, string can be used simply to tie things up - to catch, to hold, to carry. From these notions come snares and fishlines, tethers and leashes, carrying nets, handles, and packages, not to mention a way of binding objects together to form more complex tools… So powerful, in fact, is simple string in taming the world to human will and ingenuity that I suspect it to be the unseen weapon that allowed the human race to conquer the earth, that enabled us to move out into every econiche on the globe during the Upper Palaeolithic. We could call it the String Revolution. (1994, p. 45)

Barber’s insight that the capacity to join things together...


Stone Tool Complex Duality Rock Shelter Greek Myth Twisted Fiber 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Architecture Faculty, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL)Melbourne UniversityMelbourneAustralia