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

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Princeton University Press, Jul 26, 2010 - Social Science - 568 pages

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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User Review  - dsransom - LibraryThing

A magnum opus: an important but accessible work of academic history clearly establishing the roots of the Proto-Indo European language with an approach that marries linguistics with archeology. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

Despite not having any interest in archeology I found this fascinating and am deeply impressed by the ingenuity of research that allows us to learn something about cultures we have so little tangible evidence of. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes
121
Authors Note on Radiocarbon Dates
467
Notes
471
References
507
Index
547
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About the author (2010)

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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