The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
David W. Anthony
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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.
appeared in at least seven other Usatovo–culture graves, in graves at Sofievka on the middle Dnieper, and in Cotsofeni sites in the lower Danube valley, radiocarbon dated just before and after 3000 BCE [see figure 14.4, middle]. Regardless of the direction of borrowing, the shared riveted dagger types of Usatovo and the Aegean point to long–distance contacts between the two regions, perhaps in oared longboats.15 Patrons and Clients: Graves of the Warrior Chiefs at Usatovo Usatovo kurgan
pots, and some late Abashevo sites west of the Urals contained Sintashta-type metal weapons and chariot gear such as disc-shaped cheekpieces that might have originated in the Sintashta culture. But Ural Abashevo people did not conduct mortuary animal sacrifices on a large scale, many of their metal types and ornaments were different, and, even though a few of their settlements were surrounded by small ditches, this was unusual. They were not fortified like the Sintashta settlements in the
among the steppe cultures.25 WARFARE IN THE SINTASHTA CULTURE: FORTIFICATIONS AND WEAPONS A significant increase in the intensity of warfare in the southern Ural steppes is apparent from three factors: the regular appearance of large fortified towns; increased deposits of weapons in graves; and the development of new weapons and tactics. All the Sintashta settlements excavated to date, even relatively small ones like Chernorech’ye III, with perhaps six structures (see figure 15.11), and
the introduction of a new ideology and control over trade can result in language spread even where the initial migrants were few in number.27 The Acholi are an ethnolinguistic group in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. They speak Luo, a Western Nilotic language. In about 1675, when Luo-speaking chiefs first migrated into northern Uganda from the south, the overwhelming majority of people living in the area spoke Central Sudanic or Eastern Nilotic languages—Luo was very much a minority
Dnieper River, and it then diffused very rapidly across most of the Pontic-Caspian steppes as far east as the Volga and Ural rivers. This was a revolutionary event that transformed not just the economy but also the rituals and politics of steppe societies. A new set of dialects and languages probably spread across the Pontic-Caspian steppes with the new economic and ritual-political system. These dialects were the ancestors of Proto-Indo-European. With a clearer idea of how language and material