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In Search of the Indo-Europeans Paperback – April 1, 1991
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Mallory begins by tracing the historical development of European comparative linguistics, and then examines the various branches of the Indo-European language family first in Asia, then in Europe. However, the most useful portion of the book begins when Mallory attempts to reconstruct as well as one can the actual cultural and social traits of the Indo-Europeans based on the proto-language they spoke. He shows how horses must have been very important within such a culture, asserts that the people must have lived within certain geographical boundaries based on their common vocabulary, and even postulates Proto-Indo-European religious rituals. Unlike Watkin's HOW TO KILL A DRAGON, Mallory does not give much space to concepts of comparative Indo-European poetics.
The last third of Mallory's work is concerned with the Indo-European homeland problem, the eternal conundrum for those who would apply comparative linguistics to actual archaeology. Mallory favours the Russian steppes or Ukraine, as do most scholars, and argues quite well against the usual alternative theory of an Anatolian origin. I felt, however, that his placement of the Indo-Europeans could have been more substantial than it was if he had worked in more evidence of contact with speakers of the Uralic languages.Read more ›
Mallory employs paleolinguistics to show how several dozen modern languages are descended from a `Proto Indo-European' mother tongue that came to dominate many other languages (not all) of the European-Asian land mass. He uses the work of archeologists to support of his theory. In a nutshell, he mostly disagrees with Colin Renfrew, while mostly agreeing with Marija Gimbutas. Renfrew apparently has posited the idea that the changes archeologists see in the successive layers of excavated sites are the result of internal innovation and successive technological change (folks keep reinventing the wheel), where Gimbutas seems to subscribe to the notion that hostile horse-riding kurgan-building invaders from the steppes mowed down the peaceful matriarchial civilizations of their neighbors. Mallory suggests paleolinguistics supports the idea that the languages of Europe and Asia which resemble each other did not spring up independently of one another and it is not likely that the civilizations that sustained them did either.Read more ›
This book is a highly readable introduction to a subject that is extremely complex, difficult and controversial (as other reviewers have pointed out below). They have also noted that it is a few years old.
I suspect that those who wrote negative reviews may be working in the field and are well abreast of the very latest currents in thinking and "politics" regarding this subject. Such debates are always raging among scholars, and it is important that they do. However, they do not necessarily need to greatly concern the reader who is looking for a general and accessible introduction to the subject which discuses the major finds, the geography involved, and the central debates and problems concerning the subject, etc.
This book is a rare and vaulable find for the "educated amateur" who is so often faced with a choice of impossibly esoteric academic books, and works that are more of the coffee-table variety, lacking scholarly "meat". Prof. Mallory also has a very engaging and lively writing style that is effortless to read. While the author presumes intelligence and a high general level of education, he does not presume that the reader has a subtle and esoteric knowledge of Indo-European archaeology/anthropology. (I am not saying it is an "easy read", but that it is not tortuous, like many academic books).
This book is a classic, and it deserves to be.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent and readable treatment of the Indo-Europeans which favors the Russian and Caspian Steppes theory of Indo-European origins. Read morePublished 8 months ago by David M. Michel
Well-balanced account based mainly on language and archaeology. Deals well with the spread of language and ? Read morePublished 19 months ago by Wildcat
This book is written in college level textbook style. It argues that the original Indo-Europeans originated in Southern Russia. Read morePublished on August 5, 2014 by Carl Robinson
I needed this book for my ADF Dedicant Path and as it turns out, it's a good read. Great information about Indo European culture.Published on March 10, 2014 by M4m4G0th
Even if I am not a linguistic expert - but just a curious and avid student of archaic roman and etruscan civilizations, this book is fantastic.Published on February 27, 2014 by Paolo Feraboli