Books : reviews

David W. Anthony.
The Horse, the Wheel and Language: how Bronze-Age riders from the Russian Steppes shaped the modern world.
Princeton University Press. 2007

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 an Aryan race. 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. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language solves a puzzle that has vexed scholars for two centuries and uncovers a magnificent and influential civilization from the past.