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Elizabeth Wayland Barber

  • Unlike modern military codes, ancient texts are almost never purposely misleading, purposely scrambled. ... indeed, literacy was so uncommon until classical times that the very writing of a message sufficed to keep it from almost everybody.

  • We decipherers cannot afford to be as picky as the linguist, who can always run back to a native speaker for a few more forms.

  • The simplest kind of decision is binary: that is, the question can be answered, in principle at least, by either yes or no.

  • 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.

  • Clothing, right from our first direct evidence twenty thousand years ago, has been the handiest solution to conveying social messages visually, silently, continuously.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber, U.S. archaeologist, linguist, writer, educator, textiles expert

(1940)