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December 7, 2009

Goddesses of the hearth

Filed under: Bread — Mr. Henry @ 10:54 am

In the fifth millennium BC, did women rule Old Europe?

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According to David W. Anthony in The Lost World of Old Europe, women developed metallurgy, arguably the greatest technological achievement in the history of man. It wasn’t the village smithee standing under the spreading chestnut. Although they did not rule, it was the ladies changed the history of mankind.

Starting with bread-baking, women extended their mastery of pyrotechnology to the baking of clay for vessels and figurines. They learned how to adorn clay with colors derived from local deposits of malachite and azurite, which happen to be copper ores.

In a very hot kiln, copper ore combines with charcoal to produce copper and slag. By accident, therefore, women tending the hearth discovered the magical process of smelting sometime around 4,500 BC, fully a millennium and a half before similar developments in the Middle East, Egypt, and the Indus Valley.

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1 Comment

  1. Which also began our love affair with pretty shiny things like jewelry. ­čśÇ

    Comment by Jennie — December 8, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

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