Ancient History & Civilisation

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

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

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.

PART ONE - Language and Archaeology

Chapter 1. The Promise and Politics of the Mother Tongue

Chapter 2. How to Reconstruct a Dead Language

Chapter 3. Language and Time 1: The Last Speakers of Proto-Indo-European

Chapter 4. Language and Time 2: Wool, Wheels, and Proto-Indo-European

Chapter 5. Language and Place: The Location of the Proto-Indo-European Homeland

Chapter 6. The Archaeology of Language

PART TWO - The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes

Chapter 7. How to Reconstruct a Dead Culture

Chapter 8. First Farmers and Herders: The Pontic-Caspian Neolithic

Chapter 9. Cows, Copper, and Chiefs

Chapter 10. The Domestication of the Horse and the Origins of Riding: The Tale of the Teeth

Chapter 11. The End of Old Europe and the Rise of the Steppe

Chapter 12. Seeds of Change on the Steppe Borders: Maikop Chiefs and Tripolye Towns

Chapter 13. Wagon Dwellers of the Steppe: The Speakers of Proto-Indo-European

Chapter 14. The Western Indo–European Languages

Chapter 15. Chariot Warriors of the Northern Steppes

Chapter 16. The Opening of the Eurasian Steppes

Chapter 17. Words and Deeds

Appendix: Author’s Note on Radiocarbon Dates