- Paperback: 568 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (August 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780691148182
- ISBN-13: 978-0691148182
- ASIN: 069114818X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 160 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World Paperback – August 15, 2010
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"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)
"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
From the Back Cover
"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, Belfast
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-2 of 160 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The first quarter of the book hummed, in my opinion. The author, David W. Anthony, did a fantastic job of describing the work that goes into reconstructing Proto-Indo-European ("PIE"). He also did a fantastic job of making the case for the when and where of PIE language group, namely between 4,500 and 2,500 years ago on the steppes between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
The concepts and ideas that emerged in this section were stunning. We got a description of how the proto-languages we know, Latin, Celtic, German, Slavic, Greek, etc., sloughed off the PIE homeland and began making their move westward, southward, and eastward (in the case of Tokharian.) I had always believed that Lithuanian was one of the oldest PIE languages because it bore such a resemblance to Sanskrit, but the truth appears to be that Lithuanian and Sanskrit were the last languages to separate, which explains their similarity. Likewise, I'd always understood that Hittite was an Indo-European language, but Anthony suggests that Hittite may have split off of the PIE stock at a pre-PIE point in time. Another interesting point is the appearance of themes and deities from the Rig Veda in Mittanian culture. Anthony's theory is that the Mitanni were chariot conquerors of Mitanni who adopted local language and culture except for the tradition of Indo-European names.
Based on language roots, Anthony locates the PIE era in the period after the domestication of sheep and during the development of wheels and wagons. The horse/wheel/wagon technology gave PIE speakers the ability to exploit the steppes and an attractive resource for setting up client relationships with non-PIE tribes, who would eventually be brought around to the PIE language culture.
Anthony's understanding of the PIE expansion does not involve epic migrations and conquests. Rather, based on his model of language acquisition in more contemporary settings, Anthony explains the IE expansion as involving trade and the guest/host relationship.
However, the balance of the book becomes a slog as Anthony canvasses every pot and artifact dug up in the steppes. This is important stuff, and it casts off a periodic nugget of intense interest. Based on archeological data, Anthony identifies the Yamnaya culture as the PIE group:
"The Yamnaya horizon meets the expectations for late Proto-Indo-European in many ways: chronologically (the right time), geographically (the right place), materially (wagons, horses, animal sacrifices, tribal pastoralism), and linguistically (bounded by persistent frontiers); and it generated migrations in the expected directions and in the expected sequence. Early Proto-Indo-European probably developed between 4000 and 3500 BCE in the Don– Volga– Ural region. Late Proto-Indo-European, with o-stems and the full wagon vocabulary, expanded rapidly across the Pontic-Caspian steppes with the appearance of the Yamnaya horizon beginning about 3300 BCE. By 2500 BCE the Yamnaya horizon had fragmented into daughter groups, beginning with the appearance of the Catacomb culture in the Don-Kuban region and the Poltavka culture in the Volga-Ural region about 2800 BCE. Late Proto-Indo-European also was so diversified by 2500 BCE that it probably no longer existed (chapter 3). Again, the linkage with the steppe archaeological evidence is compelling."
This is fascinating and potentially revolutionary stuff, made possible in the last 15 years by the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, honestly, if you aren't an archeologist, the last two-thirds of the book involve a lot of trudging through cultures, cities and artifacts. I did a lot of skimming at that point.
Clearly, Anthony is not to be faulted for the book he wrote, and the information is first-rate. Nonetheless, most readers might not be expecting this kind of book, particularly after the opening portion of the book, which involved a higher altitude survey, rather than getting into the weeds.
It's been nearly a decade since the author published this book. In that time, the book has received considerable praise and some detraction, and is credited for the Kurgan Hypothesis revision. Additional evidence, genetic and otherwise, has confirmed the author's speculations -- at least confirmed as much as is possible with 5000 years of separation and minimal evidence.
I've minimal disagreement with most of the author's speculations and conclusions, and his arguments have weathered time and improved technology well. I understand the need for rehash and documentation which seems to have annoyed many layman readers. I found several "explanations" humorous, especially the author's petulance on the subject of the "first use of the chariot" (and his numerous "jibes" after initial explanations). I felt the author somewhat "hidebound" when he so quickly passed off the benefits of genetics -- it appears that acceptance of linguistics into archaeology and anthropology doesn't always open the doors to newer fields and technology.
There are so many questions yet unanswered, others to be refined. Genetics will be one key, as it provides physical evidence as does grave site remains. What cultural imperatives drove these Steppe people, people that went from hunter/gatherers along forested areas to Steppe herdsmen, to becoming the primary language and culture over so much of Eurasia? How were they organized and in what numbers? What happened between the speculated diaspora from the Steppes to recorded history?
Several of these questions are being researched -- no doubt more will be over time. As someone with interest in genetic genealogy and cultural anthropology, I hope the wait for answers won't be too long...