Patricia's Reviews > The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by David W. Anthony
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's review
Jan 20, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: chinese-history-iconography-arch, steppe-history
Recommended for: linguists, Asian steppe and art historians, archaeologists

Educated in an era when the Tigris-Euphrates "Fertile Crescent") region was credited with the invention of the chariot, this work's most fascinating contribution to our understanding of world history to me was the identification of the Pontic-Caspian steppes as the origin of horse-riding about 4200-4000 BCE, and the invention of wheeled vehicles around 3300 BCE. Chariots used in warfare utterly changed world history, so dating their appearance is important because it helps us understand so many other bits and pieces we have of ancient history in the region (including Indian and Chinese history). Author David Anthony reminds us that the oldest images in Near Eastern art of spoked wheels (which identifies chariots used in warfare from carts used for other more domestic purposes) appear about 1900 BCE, which leads us to the realization that chariots were developed first in the steppes, and "introduced to the Near East through Central Asia". The appearance of chariot-riding warriors can explain the sudden appearance (and disappearance) of armed settlements, large-scale migrations, technologies that focus on instruments of war, the replacement of the heroic warrior with the strategizing general of armies, etc. Even if you're not interested in language, this detail-rich volume has many threads for historians to follow; it is a monumental work for anyone.
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