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

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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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 568 pages
  • 149.86 x 233.68 x 40.64mm | 793.78g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 3 halftones. 86 line illus. 16 tables. 25 maps.
  • 069114818X
  • 9780691148182
  • 84,756

Review quote

"A key book."--David Keys, Independent "In its integration of language and archaeology, this book represents an outstanding synthesis of what today can be known with some certainty about the origin and early history of the Indo-European languages. In my view, it supersedes all previous attempts on the subject."--Kristian Kristiansen, Antiquity "The Horse, the Wheel and Language maps the early geography of the Russian steppes to re-create the lost world of Indo-European culture that is as fascinating as any mystery novel."--Arthur Krim, Geographical Reviews "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language brings together the work of historical linguists and archaeologists, researchers who have traditionally been suspicious of each other's methods. Though parts of the book will be penetrable only by scholars, it lays out in intricate detail the complicated genealogy of history's most successful language."--Christine Kenneally, International Herald Tribune "David Anthony's book is a masterpiece. A professor of anthropology, Anthony brings together archaeology, linguistics, and rare knowledge of Russian scholarship and the history of climate change to recast our understanding of the formation of early human society."--Martin Walker, Wilson Quarterly "Starting with a history of research on Proto-Indo-Europeans and exploring how this field for obvious reasons assumed an ethno-political dimension early on, leading PIE scholar Anthony moves on to established facts . . . then shifts his focus to the interrelation of the three essential elements of horse, chariot, and language and how the first and second provided the means for the spread of Indo-European languages from India to Ireland. The bulk of the book contains the factual evidence, mainly archaeological, to support this argument. But a strength of the book is its rich historical linguistic approach. The combination of the two provides a remarkable work that should appeal to everyone with an interest not just in Indo-Europeans, but in the history of humanity in general."--K. Abdi, Dartmouth College, for CHOICE "In the age of Borat it may come as a surprise to learn that the grasslands between Ukraine and Kazakhstan were once regarded as an early crucible of civilisation. This idea is revisited in a major new study by David Anthony."--Times Higher Education "A thorough look at the cutting edge of anthropology, Anthony's book is a fascinating look into the origins of modern man."--Publishers Weekly (Online Reviews Annex) "[A]uthoritative . . . "--John Noble Wilford, New York Times "David W. Anthony argues that we speak English not just because our parents taught it to us but because wild horses used to roam the steppes of central Eurasia, because steppedwellers invented the spoked wheel and because poetry once had real power. . . . Anthony is not the first scholar to make the case that Proto-Indo-European came from this region [Ukraine/Russia], but given the immense array of evidence he presents, he may be the last one who has to.... The Horse, the Wheel, and Language brings together the work of historical linguists and archaeologists, researchers who have traditionally been suspicious of each other's methods. [The book] lays out in intricate detail the complicated genealogy of history's most successful language."--Christine Kenneally, The New York Times Book Review Winner of the 2010 Book Award, Society for American Archaeology Winner of the 2010 Book Award, Society for American Archaeology "David W. Anthony argues that we speak English not just because our parents taught it to us but because wild horses used to roam the steppes of central Eurasia, because steppedwellers invented the spoked wheel and because poetry once had real power... Anthony is not the first scholar to make the case that Proto-Indo-European came from this region [Ukraine/Russia], but given the immense array of evidence he presents, he may be the last one who has to... The Horse, the Wheel, and Language brings together the work of historical linguists and archaeologists, researchers who have traditionally been suspicious of each other's methods. [The book] lays out in intricate detail the complicated genealogy of history's most successful language."--Christine Kenneally, The New York Times Book Review "[A]uthoritative ... "--John Noble Wilford, New York Times "A thorough look at the cutting edge of anthropology, Anthony's book is a fascinating look into the origins of modern man."--Publishers Weekly (Online Reviews Annex) "In the age of Borat it may come as a surprise to learn that the grasslands between Ukraine and Kazakhstan were once regarded as an early crucible of civilisation. This idea is revisited in a major new study by David Anthony."--Times Higher Education "Starting with a history of research on Proto-Indo-Europeans and exploring how this field for obvious reasons assumed an ethno-political dimension early on, leading PIE scholar Anthony moves on to established facts ... then shifts his focus to the interrelation of the three essential elements of horse, chariot, and language and how the first and second provided the means for the spread of Indo-European languages from India to Ireland. The bulk of the book contains the factual evidence, mainly archaeological, to support this argument. But a strength of the book is its rich historical linguistic approach. The combination of the two provides a remarkable work that should appeal to everyone with an interest not just in Indo-Europeans, but in the history of humanity in general."--K. Abdi, Dartmouth College, for CHOICE "David Anthony's book is a masterpiece. A professor of anthropology, Anthony brings together archaeology, linguistics, and rare knowledge of Russian scholarship and the history of climate change to recast our understanding of the formation of early human society."--Martin Walker, Wilson Quarterly "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language brings together the work of historical linguists and archaeologists, researchers who have traditionally been suspicious of each other's methods. Though parts of the book will be penetrable only by scholars, it lays out in intricate detail the complicated genealogy of history's most successful language."--Christine Kenneally, International Herald Tribune "The Horse, the Wheel and Language maps the early geography of the Russian steppes to re-create the lost world of Indo-European culture that is as fascinating as any mystery novel."--Arthur Krim, Geographical Reviews "In its integration of language and archaeology, this book represents an outstanding synthesis of what today can be known with some certainty about the origin and early history of the Indo-European languages. In my view, it supersedes all previous attempts on the subject."--Kristian Kristiansen, Antiquity "A key book."--David Keys, Independentshow more

Back cover copy

"If you want to learn about the early origins of English and related languages, and of many of our familiar customs such as feasting on holidays and exchanging gifts, this book provides a lively and richly informed introduction. Along the way you will learn when and why horses were domesticated, when people first rode horseback, and when and why swift chariots changed the nature of warfare."--Peter S. Wells, author of The Battle that Stopped Rome "A very significant contribution to the field. This book attempts to resolve the longstanding problem of Indo-European origins by providing an examination of the most relevant linguistic issues and a thorough review of the archaeological evidence. I know of no study of the Indo-European homeland that competes with it."--J. P. Mallory, Queen's University, Belfastshow more

About David W. Anthony

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.show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments xiPART ONE: Language and Archaeology 1Chapter One: The Promise and Politics of the Mother Tongue 3Ancestors 3Linguists and Chauvinists 6The Lure of the Mother Tongue 11A New Solution for an Old Problem 15Language Extinction and Thought 19Chapter Two: How to Reconstruct a Dead Language 21Language Change and Time 22Phonology: How to Reconstruct a Dead Sound 24The Lexicon: How to Reconstruct Dead Meanings 32Syntax and Morphology: The Shape of a Dead Language 36Conclusion: Raising a Language from the Dead 38Chapter Three: Language and Time 1: The Last Speakers of Proto-Indo-European 39The Size of the Chronological Window: How Long Do Languages Last? 39The Terminal Date for Proto-Indo-European: The Mother Becomes Her Daughters 42The Oldest and Strangest Daughter (or Cousin?): Anatolian 43The Next Oldest Inscriptions: Greek and Old Indic 48Counting the Relatives: How Many in 1500 BCE? 50Chapter Four: Language and Time 2: Wool, Wheels, and Proto-Indo-European 59The Wool Vocabulary 59The Wheel Vocabulary 63When Was the Wheel Invented 65The Signifi cance of the Wheel 72Wagons and the Anatolian Homeland Hypothesis 75The Birth and Death of Proto-Indo-European 81Chapter Five: Language and Place: The Location of the Proto-Indo-Europe an Homeland 83Problems with the Concept of "the Homeland" 83Finding the Homeland: Ecology and Environment 89Finding the Homeland: The Economic and Social Setting 91Finding the Homeland: Uralic and Caucasian Connections 93The Location of the Proto-Indo-European Homeland 98Chapter Six: The Archaeology of Language 102Persistent Frontiers 104Migration as a Cause of Persistent Material-Culture Frontiers 108Ecological Frontiers: Different Ways of Making a Living 114Small-scale Migrations, Elite Recruitment, and Language Shift 117PART TWO: The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 121Chapter Seven: How to Reconstruct a Dead Culture 123The Three Ages in the Pontic-Caspian Steppes 125Dating and the Radiocarbon Revolution 126What Did They Eat? 128Archaeological Cultures and Living Cultures 130The Big Questions Ahead 132Chapter Eight: First Farmers and Herders: The Pontic-Caspian Neolithic 134Domesticated Animals and Pontic-Caspian Ecol ogy 135The First Farmer-Forager Frontier in the Pontic- Caspian Region 138Farmer Meets Forager: The Bug-Dniester Culture 147Beyond the Frontier: Pontic-Caspian Foragersbefore Cattle Arrived 154The Gods Give Cattle 158Chapter Nine: Cows, Copper, and Chiefs 160The Early Copper Age in Old Europe 162The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture 164The Dnieper-Donets II Culture 174The Khvalynsk Culture on the Volga 182Nalchik and North Caucasian Cultures 186The Lower Don and North Caspian Steppes 188The Forest Frontier: The Samara Culture 189Cows, Social Power, and the Emergence of Tribes 190Chapter Ten: The Domestication of the Horse and the Origins of Riding: The Tale of the Teeth 193Where Were Horses First Domesticated? 196Why Were Horses Domesticated? 200What Is a Domesticated Horse? 201Bit Wear and Horse back Riding 206Indo-European Migrations and Bit Wear at Dereivka 213Botai and Eneolithic Horseback Riding 216The Origin of Horse back Riding 221The Economic and Military Effects of Horseback Riding 222Chapter Eleven: The End of Old Europe and the Rise of the Steppe 225Warfare and Alliance: The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Steppes 230The Sredni Stog Culture: Horses and Rituals from the East 239Migrations into the Danube Valley: The Suvorovo-Novodanilovka Complex 249Warfare, Climate Change, and Language Shift in the Lower Danube Valley 258After the Collapse 260Chapter Twelve: Seeds of Change on the Steppe Borders: Maikop Chiefs and Tripolye Towns 263The Five Cultures of the Final Eneolithic in the Steppes 265Crisis and Change on the Tripolye Frontier: Towns Bigger Than Cities 277The First Cities and Their Connection to the Steppes 282The North Caucasus Piedmont: Eneolithic Farmers before Maikop 285The Maikop Culture 287Maikop-Novosvobodnaya in the Steppes: Contacts with the North 295Proto-Indo-European as a Regional Language in a Changing World 299Chapter Thirteen: Wagon Dwellers of the Steppe: The Speakers of Proto-Indo-European 300Why Not a Kurgan Culture? 306Beyond the Eastern Frontier:The Afanasievo Migration to the Altai 307Wagon Graves in the Steppes 311Where Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin? 317When Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin? 321Were the Yamnaya People Nomads? 321Yamnaya Social Organization 328The Stone Stelae of the North Pontic Steppes 336Chapter Fourteen: The Western Indo-European Languages 340The End of the Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Roots of the Western Branches 343Steppe Overlords and Tripolye Clients: The Usatovo Culture 349The Yamnaya Migration up the Danube Valley 361Yamnaya Contacts with the Corded Ware Horizon 367The Origins of Greek 368Conclusion: The Early Western Indo-European Languages Disperse 369Chapter Fifteen: Chariot Warriors of the Northern Steppes 371The End of the Forest Frontier: Corded Ware Herders in the Forest 375Pre-Sintashta Cultures of the Eastern Steppes 385The Origin of the Sintashta Culture 389Warfare in the Sintashta Culture: Fortifications and Weapons 393Tournaments of Value 405Sintashta and the Origins of the Aryans 408Chapter Sixteen: The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 412Bronze Age Empires and the Horse Trade 412The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex 421The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes 435The Srubnaya Culture: Herding and Gathering in the Western Steppes 437East of the Urals, Phase I: The Petrovka Culture 441The Seima-Turbino Horizon in the Forest-Steppe Zone 443East of the Urals, Phase II: The Andronovo Horizon 448Proto-Vedic Cultures in the Central Asian Contact Zone 452The Steppes Become a Bridge across Eurasia 456Chapter Seventeen: Words and Deeds 458The Horse and the Wheel 459Archaeology and Language 463Appendix: Author's Note on Radiocarbon Dates 467Notes 471References 507Index 547show more

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