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  • The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

  • How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
  • By: David W. Anthony
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 18 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)
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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

By: David W. Anthony
Narrated by: Tom Perkins
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Summary

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 W. 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2007 Princeton University Press (P)2018 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

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Great stuff

Riveting, strongly recommended for anyone interested in the synthesis of paleolinguistics and archaeology. The discussion of reconstruction of paleo-Indo European culture (such as war bands) could do with a bit more material, however.

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A very impressive work

In 1786, Sir William Jones noticed the commonalities between Sanskrit and ancient Greek. This led to the recognition of the vast Indo-European language family spoken by 3 billion people today.
The original proto Indo European speakers were pastoral nomads who drove wheeled vehicles, rode domesticated horses and began to use dairy products – a package that was to guarantee their dominance wherever they went. Their migrations were the engine that powered the bronze age.
By combining the insights of historical linguistics with meticulous analysis of archaeological data (available since the end of the cold war) David Anthony describes who these people were and their history.
His conclusions are not so different from the recent powerful insights available from the genetic analysis of ancient DNA described in Who We Are and How We Got Here by David Reich (available on Audible) and more recent papers by Chuan-Chao Wang et al at the Department of Archaeogenetics, Max-Planck Institute
I enjoyed THE HORSE, THE WHEEL, AND LANGUAGE. It is very rigorous however - the sections on pottery were great for falling asleep to

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6 people found this helpful

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Special shout-out to the narrator

I am not an expert on it, but even I can hear that the narrator has done an extraordinary job with all the special linguistic demands for pronunciation in this book. Endless repeats of the same long terms… respect!
At 0,9 speed this book is my recipe to wind down at bedtime. No storyline to keep me awake, and I even learned something!

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Seminal contribution

An immensely important accomplishment in this fecund field of philosophy. Not an entirely easy read, but worth your while.

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    3 out of 5 stars

An academic treatise, not for the layman

The subject is extremely interesting but the book is for an academic audience, not the general public.
An endless list of archeological data and findings very hard to follow, especially in an audiobook.

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1 person found this helpful

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Detailed academic work

Large parts of this book were unsuited for audio, however the more accessible opening chapters were fascinating. A great effort from the reader as this book must have been hugely difficult to narrate.

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5 people found this helpful

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Too many lists for an audiobook

I'm no linguist, nor an archaeologist, but I have read quite a lot on both PIE and history.
The book started out quite well and was able to be followed, but the second half was swamped by endless lists of grave goods and cemetery sites - listing all articles found in each grave in a cemetery,
These would have been much better if put into an appendix, or footnotes e.g. in the free PDF. I found my brain glazing over as each cup, ring or bead was described.
The story was also presented non-chronologically which led to confusing toing and froing in time. It was very hard to follow what was happening during the same period over the geographical areas mentioned.
The overload of detail would have been mitigated by some kind of summary at the end of each section/chapter to state the key points and conclusions...as it was it was just an endless list of sites, cultures, and migrations.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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This was too academic for me

I thought this would be really interesting, but I found it difficult to listen, the narrator did not make the subject come to life.

I gave up on it by chapter three, I was very disappointed.

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1 person found this helpful