Gods, Graves and Language

Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road, (Princeton University Press, 2009), 472 pages, US$16.95. David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language, (Princeton University Press, 2009), 553 pages, US$22.95.  Studying English at university in the 1960s we learned that European languages had a family resemblance to each other and to Sanskrit. Named the Indo-European branch of languages, they were thought to have arisen somewhere vaguely between the Black Sea and northern India. The outburst of interest in mythology during the 1970s furthered our knowledge a little. Nora Chadwick’s The Celtic Realms, for instance, showed similarities between ancient Irish…

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