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

by David W. Anthony
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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400831104
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/26/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 568
Sales rank: 750,644
File size: 27 MB
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About the Author

David W. Anthony is professor of anthropology at Hartwick College. He is the editor of The Lost World of Old Europe (Princeton). He has conducted extensive archaeological fieldwork in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

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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