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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Part One - Language and Archaeology
    1. Chapter One - The Promise and Politics of the Mother Tongue
      1. Ancestors
      2. Linguists and Chauvinists
      3. The Lure of the Mother Tongue
      4. A New Solution for an Old Problem
      5. Language Extinction and Thought
    2. Chapter Two - How to Reconstruct a Dead Language
      1. Language Change and Time
      2. Phonology: How to Reconstruct a Dead Sound
      3. The Lexicon: How to Reconstruct Dead Meanings
      4. Syntax and Morphology: The Shape of a Dead Language
      5. Conclusion: Raising a Language from the Dead
    3. Chapter Three - Language and Time 1 The Last Speakers of Proto-Indo-European
      1. The Size of the Chronological Window: How Long Do Languages Last?
      2. The Terminal Date for Proto-Indo-European: The Mother Becomes Her Daughters
      3. The Oldest and Strangest Daughter (or Cousin?): Anatolian
      4. The Next Oldest Inscriptions: Greek and Old Indic
      5. Counting the Relatives: How Many in 1500 BCE?
    4. Chapter Four - Language and Time 2 Wool, Wheels, and Proto-Indo-European
      1. The Wool Vocabulary
      2. The Wheel Vocabulary
      3. When Was the Wheel Invented
      4. The Significance of the Wheel
      5. Wagons and the Anatolian Homeland Hypothesis
      6. The Birth and Death of Proto-Indo-European
    5. Chapter Five - Language and Place The Location of the Proto-Indo-European Homeland
      1. Problems with the Concept of “the Homeland”
      2. Finding the Homeland: Ecology and Environment
      3. Finding the Homeland: The Economic and Social Setting
      4. Finding the Homeland: Uralic and Caucasian Connections
      5. The Location of the Proto-Indo-European Homeland
    6. Chapter Six - The Archaeology of Language
      1. Persistent Frontiers
      2. Migration as a Cause of Persistent Material-Culture Frontiers
      3. Ecological Frontiers: Different Ways of Making a Living
      4. Small-scale Migrations, Elite Recruitment, and Language Shift
  7. Part Two - The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes
    1. Chapter Seven - How to Reconstruct a Dead Culture
      1. The Three Ages in the Pontic-Caspian Steppes
      2. Dating and the Radiocarbon Revolution
      3. What Did They Eat?
      4. Archaeological Cultures and Living Cultures
      5. The Big Questions Ahead
    2. Chapter Eight - First Farmers and Herders The Pontic-Caspian Neolithic
      1. The First Farmer-Forager Frontier in the Pontic-Caspian Region
      2. Farmer Meets Forager: The Bug-Dniester Culture
      3. Beyond the Frontier: Pontic-Caspian Foragers before Cattle Arrived
      4. The Gods Give Cattle
    3. Chapter Nine - Cows, Copper, and Chiefs
      1. The Early Copper Age in Old Europe
      2. The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture
      3. The Dnieper-Donets II Culture
      4. The Khvalynsk Culture on the Volga
      5. Nalchik and North Caucasian Cultures
      6. The Lower Don and North Caspian Steppes
      7. The Forest Frontier: The Samara Culture
      8. Cows, Social Power, and the Emergence of Tribes
    4. Chapter Ten - The Domestication of the Horse and the Origins of Ridin The Tale of the Teeth
      1. Where Were Horses First Domesticated?
      2. Why Were Horses Domesticated?
      3. What Is a Domesticated Horse?
      4. Bit Wear and Horseback Riding
      5. Indo-European Migrations and Bit Wear at Dereivka
      6. Botai and Eneolithic Horseback Riding
      7. The Origin of Horseback Riding
      8. The Economic and Military Effects of Horseback Riding
    5. Chapter Eleven - The End of Old Europe and the Rise of the Steppe
      1. Warfare and Alliance: The Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Steppes
      2. The Sredni Stog Culture: Horses and Rituals from the East
      3. Migrations into the Danube Valley: The Suvorovo-Novodanilovka Complex
      4. Warfare, Climate Change, and Language Shift in the Lower Danube Valley
      5. After the Collapse
    6. Chapter Twelve - Seeds of Change on the Steppe Borders: Maikop Chiefs and Tripolye Towns
      1. The Five Cultures of the Final Eneolithic in the Steppes
      2. Crisis and Change on the Tripolye Frontier: Towns Bigger Than Cities
      3. The First Cities and Their Connection to the Steppes
      4. The North Caucasus Piedmont: Eneolithic Farmers before Maikop
      5. The Maikop Culture
      6. Maikop-Novosvobodnaya in the Steppes: Contacts with the North
      7. Proto-Indo-European as a Regional Language in a Changing World
    7. Chapter Thirteen - Wagon Dwellers of the Steppe: The Speakers of Proto-Indo-European
      1. Why Not a Kurgan Culture?
      2. Beyond the Eastern Frontier: The Afanasievo Migration to the Altai
      3. Wagon Graves in the Steppes
      4. Where Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin?
      5. When Did the Yamnaya Horizon Begin?
      6. Were the Yamnaya People Nomads?
      7. Yamnaya Social Organization
      8. The Stone Stelae of the North Pontic Steppes
    8. Chapter Fourteen: The Western Indo–European Languages: “A wild river full of possibilities flowed from my new tongue.”—Andrew Lam,Learning a Language, Incventing a Future2006
      1. The End of the Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture and the Roots of the Western Branches
      2. Steppe Overlords and Tripolye Clients: The Usatovo Culture
      3. The Yamnaya Migration up the Danube Valley
      4. Yamnaya Contacts with the Corded Ware Horizon
      5. The Origins of Greek
      6. Conclusion: The Early Western Indo-European Languages Disperse
    9. Chapter Fifteen - Chariot Warriors of the Northern Steppes
      1. The End of the Forest Frontier: Corded Ware Herders in the Forest
      2. Pre-Sintashta Cultures of the Eastern Steppes
      3. The Origin of the Sintashta Culture
      4. Warfare in the Sintashta Culture: Fortifications and Weapons
      5. Tournaments of Value
      6. Sintashta and the Origins of the Aryans
    10. Chapter Sixteen - The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes
      1. Bronze Age Empires and the Horse Trade
      2. The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
      3. The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes
      4. The Srubnaya Culture: Herding and Gathering in the Western Steppes
      5. East of the Urals, Phase I: The Petrovka Culture
      6. The Seima-Turbino Horizon in the Forest-Steppe Zone
      7. East of the Urals, Phase II: The Andronovo Horizon
      8. Proto-Vedic Cultures in the Central Asian Contact Zone
      9. The Steppes Become a Bridge across Eurasia
    11. Chapter Seventeen - Words and Deeds
      1. The Horse and the Wheel
      2. Archaeology and Language
  8. Appendix - Author’s Note on Radiocarbon Dates
  9. Notes
  10. References
  11. Index