11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not quite the book to end all argument,
This review is from: The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (Hardcover)
Since the 1980s David Anthony has been an expert on Balkan and Steppe Archaeology, as well as working on the origins of horse riding. This is his Magnum Opus. I doubt that you'll see its like (certainly from him) again.
And what a work! By covering almost every angle he manages to get, as far as anyone can, to the root of Indo-European origins with his discussion of horses, wheels, wool and chariots. The first half of the book is a gripping roller coaster, fascinating to anybody who has an interest in Proto-Indo-European, its age(s) and place(s). The argument presented essentially backs up the "Ukrainian steppe pastoralist" origin story of Marija Gimbutas, while doing its best to demolish (quite effectively) the current alternative , Colin Renfrew's "Turkish original farmer" origin story.
However, after an interesting chapter on the origins of horse-riding, the second half of the book is a painstaking blow by blow account of the archaeology of steppe cultures between 5000 and 2000 BC. Even for an obsessive like me I struggle not to fall asleep while reading it. Ultimately it is aimed at academics who argue against the steppe origins of Indo-Iranian and Tocharian. Unless you're up with those arguments it will bore you to tears. To be fair Prof Anthony never professed to making a block-buster, just to making his case. All the same, the book's title should really have been subtitled "how bronze age riders from the Eurasian steppe shaped Western and Central Asia".
However, my major issue with the book is that Prof Anthony (like Jim Mallory) does not seem to be able to see the world from outside his own argument. He believes, almost religiously, that Andronovo culture = Indo-Iranian language. Sure it's a reasonable case but it's a long long way from being proved. This leaves him constantly flitting between using culture or using language to describe the same thing, even within one sentence - pretty much an archaeological (and scientific) no-no. I just wish that he could have separated the two. This would have better helped him both to make his case and to see the flaws in it. More than anything else this will cause the book to date as new evidence becomes available.
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World(22 customer reviews)