Hartwick’s Anthony Wins Major Award for Book

March 25, 2010

Hartwick College Professor of Anthropology David Anthony's The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppe Shaped the Modern World, has been honored with the Society for American Archaeology's Book Award, which will be presented at the organization's annual conference in St. Louis, MO on April 16. The Society annually awards the prize to honor a recently published scholarly book that "has had, or is expected to have, a major impact on the direction and character of archaeological research."

The book, published in 2007, combines 20 years of Anthony's research in the steppes of Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan to put forth a bold new theory on the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European language, the root of most of the languages of South and Southwest Asia spoken by about half the world's population. For more than 200 years, the source of Proto-Indo-European has remained a mystery to linguists, archaeologists, and others.

Anthony's book 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, 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.

Archaeologist J.P. Mallory of Queen's University in Belfast and editor of the Journal of Indo-European Studies has called Anthony's book a "very significant contribution to the field." John Noble Wilford of The New York Times called the book "authoritative," and Publisher's Weekly deemed it "a fascinating look into the origins of modern man," among other glowing reviews.

Anthony was recently invited to serve as guest curator for the museum at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, a new research and teaching institute at New York University dedicated to archaeology. ISAW is a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education, intended to cultivate comparative and connective investigations of the ancient world. Anthony's expertise and reputation in the field prompted ISAW to seek him out for the position.

Anthony works closely with his research collaborator and spouse, Dorcas Brown, who has co-authored many of his articles and co-directs his excavation projects. Their work has reached beyond Hartwick College. The Samara Valley Project was a four-year excavation project in the Russian steppes conducted with the help of Hartwick students, funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society. Earlier, their discovery of the earliest evidence of horseback riding attracted international attention. They worked together on the now award-winning book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor’s Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
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