The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World Livres audio Audible – Version intégrale
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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.
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Détails sur le produit
|Durée||18 heures et 25 minutes|
|Auteur||David W. Anthony|
|Date de publication sur Audible.fr||11 septembre 2018|
|Type de programme||Livre audio|
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Un problème s'est produit lors du filtrage des commentaires. Veuillez réessayer ultérieurement.
Il a pour moi deux grandes qualités:
1) Il fait des principes de la linguistique historique, et de leur application à la question indo-européenne, une présentation d'une clarté exceptionnelle. L'amateur, pas forcément très éclairé, y trouvera plus son compte que dans d'autres, qui souvent l'égarent dans les raffinements des théories glottaliques, etc.
2) Surtout, il met à la portée du lecteur occidental les trésors de l'archéologie russe, sans lesquels il est illusoire de vouloir rien comprendre à la question.
L'auteur est un archéologue de terrain. Quand il parle de la domestication du cheval, c'est en expert, et non par ouï-dire, et cette partie du livre est particulièrement saisissante. On est, avec tout cela, à des années-lumières des litanies de Demoule, lesquelles n'ont probablement pour seule ambition que de défendre les dogmes de l'école archéologique française en défigurant ou passant sous silence tout ce qui pourrait les ébranler ( et singulièrement plusieurs décennies de fouilles en Europe de l'Est).
Attention cependant: le lecteur ne trouvera dans ce livre rien sur l'indo-européanisation de l'Europe occidentale. Rien donc sur les cultures campaniformes, cordées,etc, qui sont ici hors-sujet. Et rien non plus sur l'apport extraordinaire de la génétique de ces dernières années. Rien donc sur les travaux des équipes de Haak, Reich, Lazaridis, etc. Pour ceux-ci, rien d'autre à faire que de puiser directement à la source des articles originaux, ou attendre qu'un généticien ait la bonne idée de les synthétiser dans un livre. Cela laisse un dernier sursis aux quelques marginaux qui prétendent encore nier la solidité du modèle "invasif" indo-européen.
Bien que l'auteur s'emporte souvent vers des descriptions sur les decouvertes archaeologiques, il n'en reste pas moins que ce livre reste clair et structure.
Bon schemas et plans.
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The bulk of the meticulous archaeological research described by Anthony was done by Soviet and East European archaeologists, listed in his bibliography but not mentioned in his acknowledgments. Yet before Anthony’s book the story of the steppe riders had already been presented to Western readers in great detail, by Marija Gimbutas. However, Gimbutas offered a very different interpretation of the data, and although she was viewed condescendingly by most Western archaeologists, who saw her work as eccentric and misjudged, ironically it is her interpretation of the weaponised steppe riders’ astonishingly violent impact on central European society and culture in the Neolithic (a culture she called Old Europe) that has been vindicated by the DNA results. It WAS an invasion, albeit one which appears to have unfolded in waves. The arrival of the steppe riders in Central, then Western Europe brought to power an extremely violent patriarchal society whose veneration of a Sky God, hierarchical social structure, and love of warriors and weapons contrasted significantly with the values of the Neolithic societies it displaced.
If you have already read Gimbutas, you may have noticed a striking omission from Anthony’s curiously sanitised picture of the steppe warriors’ culture: although his book includes several illustrations which depict the disturbing ‘double burials’ often found in the steppe riders’ kurgans, he seems unable to acknowledge that these typically represent human sacrifice. This practice, together with multiple animal sacrifices, was routinely performed at the elaborate funerals of their chieftains and senior warriors. Such double burials were the origin of the practice later known in India as sati, where the wife or wives of the dead leader would be required to die and enter the otherworld with him, in some cases being accompanied by children and slaves. It seems to me quite inexcusable that Anthony omits any reference to this illuminating and to my mind, damning detail. For along with their fondness for sacrificing horses, cattle and other animals at key burial sites (which were usually kurgans), this practice speaks volumes about the values of the violent society that overran Europe during the Bronze Age. So anyone who thinks Anthony’s book is the last word on this subject should immediately read Gimbutas, for eg The Kurgan culture and the Indo-Europeanisation of Europe, or The Civilisation of the Goddess.
The book starts well enough with an exploration of Proto-Indo-European as a language - what we know, and what we can learn from it. But then it soon falls into a repetitive pattern of archaeological reports for the large number of identified cultures in the steppes over a couple of thousand years. After a while this really begins to drag.
Perhaps more disturbingly, Anthony seems so desperate to prove his own ideas he thinks nothing of backhanding the giants of archaeology who came before him, not least Marija Gimbutas, who was singularly responsible for identifying where the Proto-Indo-Europeans originated. Anthony also repeatedly takes swipes at other archaeologists, sometimes in a way that seems a little too personal.
However, the value of this book comes from the steppe archaeology itself, and no doubt will prove of keen interest for further research. This also means this book is likely to disappoint and even bore the casual reader simply looking for a general overview of who the Proto-Indo-Europeans were and what how they "shaped the modern world".
There's also the important caveat that genetic studies published after this book show that the spread of Proto-Indo-European languages was far more violent and deadly than Anthony tries to argue. He also seems unaware of Cunliffe's argument that the Proto-Celtic branch travelled to Western Europe through the Mediterranean.
So, overall, a potentially useful text for interested archaeologists - hence 4 stars - but not for general readers.
The question it deals with is not new; it is at least 2 hundred years old, namely the origin of the Indo-European languages. As the book says, about half the people of the world speak an Indo-European language. Nor are the conclusions of the book different from the commonly-held view that they originated in the steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. The author combines linguistic and archaeological studies. He does so with great thoroughness, drawing on Russian and Ukrainian studies now available to those able to read Russian and there are many of these. The problem for the non-expert is that there a too many of these. What is suitable for a university student is less suitable for the general reader, and I found myself skipping.
As is common nowadays, the author dismisses the theory from Rassenkampf (racial wars) of Social Darwinism. Rather, Indo-European became regarded as a prestige language, the language of high status families. Greek, Latin, and Arabic spread in a similar manner, as indeed did English, French and Spanish. Prestige no doubt followed success in battle, but did not involve wiping out populations. The use of the horse for riding and the composite bow, also helped.
This exhaustive work sums up recent scholarship on the subject. It does not explain the origin of the local dialect of the steppes which was to prove so influential.
First, in 5500 BC, the proto-indo-europeans (PIE) were small bands of foragers based in the Pontic-Caspian riverrain and seaside regions. While neolithic agricultural techniques were spreading, PIE adopted herding techniques of grass-eating species, enabling them to convert previously useless steppe grasses into animal protein. This vastly increased their range of potential living spaces. Horses, in particular, represented a good food source: they could paw through snow to grass, rather than depend on their noses like sheep, which preferred to starve than scrape their tender snozes as winter wore on. This hugely increased their wealth and nutritional options, expanding their population, prestige, and power. In this way, they became a significant cultural force. (Interestingly, it appears that 2 offshoots - the Hittite language groups and the Tocharians - split off prior to this, around 4500-4000 BC.)
Second, a series of stunning technological inventions increased their mobility and speed over unprecedented ranges. Not only did the wheel make its appearance, but so did the wagon and eventually the chariot. This reinforced PIE economic power and, particularly with the chariot and the newly acquired ability to ride horses instead of just eating them, made them a formidable military power as well. They were able to protect themselves as well as raid others and then beat a hasty escape. The need to protect herds also enhanced the status of male warriors. Finally, as their herds grew to enormous proportions, PIE sought new grazing areas, spurring further spreading west, northwest, and southeast.
Third, according to Kennedy, PIE developed a political system based on 2 customs that enabled them to incorporate local peoples relatively peacefully, with the adoption of PIE dialects and intermarriage eventually mixing the populations. On the one hand, with their wealth and economic system, PIE developed client-master relations with locals, in effect incorporating them into a lower rank of their hierarchy. This was accomplished to their mutual advantage, trading prosperity for peace and stability. On the other hand, there was a system of guest-host relations, also to promote peace and sharing, in particular in feasts given by PIE to prove the superiority of their economic-agricultural system. In this way, over thousands of years, PIE dialects spread to autochtons as they were absorbed into a quasi-political order. Though Anthony did not quite prove to my satisfaction that this was accomplished without depending on a great deal on warfare, I admit it is possible it happened non-violently.
By 3200 BC or so, the PIE had created a gigantic diaspora of related but independent regions. With the perfection of bronze smelting, the relative uniformity of the many groups facilitated trade, initiating an unprecedented era of prosperity that lasted through 2000 years, to the iron age. It was during this time that PIE split into Celtic, Italic, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic groupings (to name a few!), eventually leading to the modern languages that a full 70% of the world speaks today. This is absolutely wonderful stuff for the brain, a rare intellectual adventure. You can also gain a deep understanding of the Bronze Age, though little of the culture can be known with any specificity. It is also a primer on historical linguistics, lucidly written, that examines the structure of PIE languages; for example, its grammar is elaborately structured to reflect time and action, which is not the case with other basic root languages (Hopi, for example, incorporates one's assessment of the accuracy of a source of information into its grammar, shaping thought in an entirely different way).
That being said, this is a very academic book. THere are long passages where seemingly obscure points are proven. They can be tedious to the uninitiated and easily skipped. For myself, I dislike long descriptions of graves and pottery shards, of which there are very many; the same goes for the linguistic reconstruction of PIE, which necessitates long discussions of word roots and their evolution into modern usages. Of course, to be scientific, these arguments must be made. To his credit, Anthony always brings the reader back to remind us of where he is going and what it means, which make the book a consistent pleasure.
I recommend this book with the greatest enthusiasm. It is also beautifully written and has plenty of personal observations, such as his efforts with his wife to prove that horses were ridden by gauging wear on horse's teeth, that are funny and instructive.