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Reconstructing Dance in the Stone Age?  Observations on the Comparative Method 

Elizabeth Barber (Occidental College)

Friday, October 9, 2015 - 3:30pm
106 Parrington

Co-sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Elizabeth Barber discusses what she learned about practical applications of the linguistics-based comparative method in a series of undertakings: first, reconstructing ancient Greek textile technology by reconstructing and redefining the Classical and Mycenaean Greek vocabulary in light of the archaeological remains; then drawing deductions about what the proto-Greeks and proto-Indo-Europeans did and didn't know; and then figuring out how to apply this enlarged method to reconstructing even more perishable human inventions, namely traditional clothing and traditional/ritual dance. What is needed for the comparative method to be applicable?

Elizabeth Barber is Professor Emerita of Archaeology and Linguistics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. The recipient of many grants and book prizes, she has published numerous articles and nine books, including Resplendent Dress of Southeastern Europe (2013, with Barbara Sloan), The Dancing Goddesses (2013), When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth (2005, with Paul Barber), The Mummies of Ürümchi (1999), Women's Work—The First 20,000 Years (1994), and Prehistoric Textiles (1991). Her chief hobbies are embroidery,
folkdancing, and figuring out where things came from.

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