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The "Kurgan Culture," Indo-European Origins, and the Domestication of the Horse: A Reconsideration [and Comments and Replies]

David W. Anthony, Peter Bogucki, Eugen Comşa, Marija Gimbutas, Borislav Jovanović, J. P. Mallory and Sarunas Milisaukas
Current Anthropology
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Aug. - Oct., 1986), pp. 291-313
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2743045
Page Count: 23
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Abstract

The "Kurgan culture" concept has for two decades been the central element in attempts to explain the cultural shifts that occurred during the Late Copper Age/Early Broze Age transition in Eastern Europe, ca. 2500 b.c. These shifts represented a significant departure from earlier cultural trajectories and established the foundation for the subsequent development of European societies. It is suggested here tht the "Kurgan culture" concept lacks interpretative utility, for it unites archaeological groups of widely different origin, chronological placement, and cultural affiliation. Such distinctions are documented in the cases of the Sredni Stog culture, the Yamma horizon, and the Usatovo culture. An alternative explanation for many of the observed cultural changes can be found in the domestication of the horse and its development as a mount by steppe river-valley societies during the period 3300-2700 b.c. The socioeconomic implications of this event are specified by using the American Indian experience with horse acquisition as a model. Many archaeologically documented aspects of the period of change are consistent with predictions generated by the American Indian model. It is argued that the Sredni Stog culture, which represents the archaeological remains of the earliest domesticators of the horse, established the pattern from which the Yamma horizon and later forms os steppe pastoralism evolved.

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