The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World

3.5 7
by David W. Anthony

ISBN-10: 0691058873

ISBN-13: 9780691058870

Pub. Date: 11/19/2007

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Roughly half the world's population speaks languages derived from a shared linguistic source known as Proto-Indo-European. But who were the early speakers of this ancient mother tongue, and how did they manage to spread it around the globe? Until now their identity has remained a tantalizing mystery to linguists, archaeologists, and even Nazis seeking the roots of

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Roughly half the world's population speaks languages derived from a shared linguistic source known as Proto-Indo-European. But who were the early speakers of this ancient mother tongue, and how did they manage to spread it around the globe? Until now their identity has remained a tantalizing mystery to linguists, archaeologists, and even Nazis seeking the roots of the Aryan race. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language lifts the veil that has long shrouded these original Indo-European speakers, and reveals how their domestication of horses and use of the wheel spread language and transformed civilization.

Linking prehistoric archaeological remains with the development of language, David Anthony identifies the prehistoric peoples of central Eurasia's steppe grasslands as the original speakers of Proto-Indo-European, and shows how their innovative use of the ox wagon, horseback riding, and the warrior's chariot turned the Eurasian steppes into a thriving transcontinental corridor of communication, commerce, and cultural exchange. He explains how they spread their traditions and gave rise to important advances in copper mining, warfare, and patron-client political institutions, thereby ushering in an era of vibrant social change. Anthony also describes his fascinating discovery of how the wear from bits on ancient horse teeth reveals the origins of horseback riding.

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language solves a puzzle that has vexed scholars for two centuries--the source of the Indo-European languages and English--and recovers a magnificent and influential civilization from the past.

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Princeton University Press
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

PART ONE: Language and Archaeology 1

Chapter One: The Promise and Politics of the Mother Tongue 3

Ancestors 3

Linguists and Chauvinists 6

The Lure of the Mother Tongue 11

A New Solution for an Old Problem 15

Language Extinction and Thought 19

Chapter Two: How to Reconstruct a Dead Language 21

Language Change and Time 22

Phonology: How to Reconstruct a Dead Sound 24

The Lexicon: How to Reconstruct Dead Meanings 32

Syntax and Morphology: The Shape of a Dead Language 36

Conclusion: Raising a Language from the Dead 38

Chapter Three: Language and Time 1: The Last Speakers of Proto-Indo-European 39

The Size of the Chronological Window: How Long Do Languages Last? 39

The Terminal Date for Proto-Indo-European: The Mother Becomes Her Daughters 42

The Oldest and Strangest Daughter (or Cousin?): Anatolian 43

The Next Oldest Inscriptions: Greek and Old Indic 48

Counting the Relatives: How Many in 1500 BCE? 50

Chapter Four: Language and Time 2: Wool, Wheels, and Proto-Indo-European 59

The Wool Vocabulary 59

The Wheel Vocabulary 63

When Was the Wheel Invented 65

The Signifi cance of the Wheel 72

Wagons and the Anatolian Homeland Hypothesis 75

The Birth and Death of Proto-Indo-European 81

Chapter Five: Language and Place: The Location of the Proto-Indo-Europe an Homeland 83

Problems with the Concept of "the Homeland" 83

Finding the Homeland: Ecology and Environment 89

Finding the Homeland: The Economic and Social Setting 91

Finding the Homeland: Uralic and Caucasian Connections 93

The Location of the Proto-Indo-European Homeland 98

Chapter Six: The Archaeology of Language 102

Persistent Frontiers 104

Migration as a Cause of Persistent Material-Culture Frontiers 108

Ecological Frontiers: Different Ways of Making a Living 114

Small-scale Migrations, Elite Recruitment, and Language Shift 117

PART TWO: The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 121

Chapter Seven: How to Reconstruct a Dead Culture 123

The Three Ages in the Pontic-Caspian Steppes 125

Dating and the Radiocarbon Revolution 126

What Did They Eat? 128

Archaeological Cultures and Living Cultures 130

The Big Questions Ahead 132

Chapter Eight: First Farmers and Herders: The Pontic-Caspian Neolithic 134

Domesticated Animals and Pontic-Caspian Ecol ogy 135

The First Farmer-Forager Frontier in the Pontic- Caspian Region 138

Farmer Meets Forager: The Bug-Dniester Culture 147

Beyond the Frontier: Pontic-Caspian Foragers before Cattle Arrived 154

The Gods Give Cattle 158

Chapter Nine: Cows, Copper, and Chiefs 160

The Early Copper Age in Old Europe 162

The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture 164

The Dnieper-Donets II Culture 174

The Khvalynsk Culture on the Volga 182

Nalchik and North Caucasian Cultures 186

The Lower Don and North Caspian Steppes 188

The Forest Frontier: The Samara Culture 189

Cows, Social Power, and the Emergence of Tribes 190

Chapter Ten: The Domestication of the Horse and the Origins of Riding: The Tale of the Teeth 193

Where Were Horses First Domesticated? 196

Why Were Horses Domesticated? 200

What Is a Domesticated Horse? 201

Bit Wear and Horse back Riding 206

Indo-European Migrations and Bit Wear at Dereivka 213

Botai and Eneolithic Horseback Riding 216

The Origin of Horse back Riding 221

The Economic and Military Effects of Horseback Riding 222

Chapter Eleven: The End of Old Europe and the Rise of the Steppe 225

Warfare and Alliance: The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Steppes 230

The Sredni Stog Culture: Horses and Rituals from the East 239

Migrations into the Danube Valley: The Suvorovo-Novodanilovka Complex 249

Warfare, Climate Change, and Language Shift in the Lower Danube Valley 258

After the Collapse 260

Chapter Twelve: Seeds of Change on the Steppe Borders: Maikop Chiefs and Tripolye Towns 263

The Five Cultures of the Final Eneolithic in the Steppes 265

Crisis and Change on the Tripolye Frontier: Towns Bigger Than Cities 277

The First Cities and Their Connection to the Steppes 282

The North Caucasus Piedmont: Eneolithic Farmers before Maikop 285

The Maikop Culture 287

Maikop-Novosvobodnaya in the Steppes: Contacts with the North 295

Proto-Indo-European as a Regional Language in a Changing World 299

Chapter Thirteen: Wagon Dwellers of the Steppe: The Speakers of Proto-Indo-European 300

Why Not a Kurgan Culture? 306

Beyond the Eastern Frontier:
The Afanasievo Migration to the Altai 307

Wagon Graves in the Steppes 311

Where Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin? 317

When Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin? 321

Were the Yamnaya People Nomads? 321

Yamnaya Social Organization 328

The Stone Stelae of the North Pontic Steppes 336

Chapter Fourteen: The Western Indo-European Languages 340

The End of the Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Roots of the Western Branches 343

Steppe Overlords and Tripolye Clients: The Usatovo Culture 349

The Yamnaya Migration up the Danube Valley 361

Yamnaya Contacts with the Corded Ware Horizon 367

The Origins of Greek 368

Conclusion: The Early Western Indo-European Languages Disperse 369

Chapter Fifteen: Chariot Warriors of the Northern Steppes 371

The End of the Forest Frontier: Corded Ware Herders in the Forest 375

Pre-Sintashta Cultures of the Eastern Steppes 385

The Origin of the Sintashta Culture 389

Warfare in the Sintashta Culture: Fortifications and Weapons 393

Tournaments of Value 405

Sintashta and the Origins of the Aryans 408

Chapter Sixteen: The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 412

Bronze Age Empires and the Horse Trade 412

The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex 421

The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 435

The Srubnaya Culture: Herding and Gathering in the Western Steppes 437

East of the Urals, Phase I: The Petrovka Culture 441

The Seima-Turbino Horizon in the Forest-Steppe Zone 443

East of the Urals, Phase II: The Andronovo Horizon 448

Proto-Vedic Cultures in the Central Asian Contact Zone 452

The Steppes Become a Bridge across Eurasia 456

Chapter Seventeen: Words and Deeds 458

The Horse and the Wheel 459

Archaeology and Language 463

Appendix: Author's Note on Radiocarbon Dates 467

Notes 471

References 507

Index 547

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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
NSALegal More than 1 year ago
The early chapters' focus on language is fairly absorbing, and goes by well, even if the points might go a little further than the proof can support. The specific language examples are thought-provoking. The sections on the horse are not quite as satisfying, but there are still interesting ideas related here. The biggest flaw of the book starts sneaking in around Chapter 8, when the names assigned to cultures fly in with a somewhat confusing presence, and little authorial guidance as to how the non-specialist should rank them, or keep them all in mind. By the time you reach chapter 11, it starts to feel like a long slog of pottery sherd descriptions, place names, kurgans and the idea that there were a lot of little settlements all over the Eurasian steppes. The author undoubtedly knows what he's talking about; a little more context (or means to orient the non-specialist reader) and thematic focus would have helped.
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MichaelWV More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I thought it would illuminate prehistoric language and thought, as in Old Testament times, and shifts in values with cultural changes. There was some of that: pastoral nomads of 5000 BCE felt they had a contract with the Gods and could make demands on them. (Curiously, Egyptians in their golden millenium felt the same entitlement.) The various cultures speaking Proto-Indo-European extended the same obligations among mortal classes, including host vs. guest and conquerer vs. client. This early social contract was lost in Christianity. The paradox is that the culture required young men to raid nearby settlements for cattle. It is a technical book, amply documented with maps and illustrations but still leaving a layman like me with questions: Were those female carvings the first pornography? (That seems to have been lost in Christianity too.) What was all the red ochre in the grave sites for? What is an oblast and why does my dictionary not have the word? PIE's could not write, but could they not count either, even though they were great traders? (That would seem to explain why they did not invent money, but how could they measure the right proportion of tin to copper in their bronze?) There is interesting discussion of horses progressing from a mere source of protein to beasts of burden to mighty chariot steeds. Another paradox is that a nomadic culture pioneered metal smelting and created a bronze and iron industry that made it rich. Their wealth and military power created prestige that accounts for the success of their language, which spread and morphed into seventy modern languages. Proto-Indo-European descendant languages are now spoken by a majority of the people on Earth. All this is proved in exhaustive detail, mostly from the analysis of potsherds. Anthony mentions the irony that garbage pits survive longer than temples and palaces. Grave sites were the other archeological lode. Other remnants of Proto-Indo-European culture are in the languages we speak today, from which linguists have identified thousands of words from the mother of all mother tongues, revealing partially what they thought and talked about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not have punch expected not worth buying