How would civilization develop without horses?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Whiteshore, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. Polish Eagle AntiFa Supersoldier

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    My guess is "they don't." The Proto-Indo-Europeans just get assimilated into the steady flow of Afro-Asiatic-speaking farmers from Anatolia into Europe and Ukraine.

    Camels of some sort probably end up replacing horses--either Bactrians or Dromedaries. So we get either an !Arab camel-cavalry explosion analogous to them, or the propagation of some pre-IE family from Afghanistan (the Indus Valley Civilization reached into Afghanistan--maybe the dominant Steppe Nomad culture is instead an offshoot of them, riding Bactrians).
     
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  2. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    How would the Harappans develop, then?
     
  3. Augustine Sedira Service, Family and Wisdom Banned

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    I think the Indo-Europeans would carry on expanding along the Danube. The Slavs migrated on foot and went very far so what's to say that Proto-Indo-Europeans can't achieve the same.
     
  4. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Depends on the time frame. You You might see something complex earlier in the Aegaean.


    Why camels and not donkeys? Camels are great for long-distance trade (or baggage trains of military expeditions) in arid places, but not exactly suitable for fast charges... Also, riding donkeys is just easier in many places.
    I'm not sure Anatolian Farmers were speaking afro-asiatic, earliest afro-asiatic arrivals in the region were in the 4th millennium BCE. Anatolian Farmers would have spoken either a language unrelated to anything we know, or one related to either Hattic, Hurro-Urartian, Cypro-Minoic or a Caucasus language, I guess.


    Depends on how they make the transition to the Ganges-yamuna.
     
  5. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Only if the Cucuteni-Tripolye guys don't mind or can't help it.
     
  6. Michael B Doomfarer

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    Unlikely because draught/riding animals and ships are two very different technologies. In the European/North African/Near Eastern world sail technology was invented by the Egyptians and spread from there. Its transmission has nothing to do with whether or not the adopters had horse, cattle, donkeys, etc.

    Chariots and early cavalry were missile platforms if not mounted infantry (nobility preferring to ride and not walk). Charging only came later. Besides even though camels are slower than horses (https://www.quora.com/Which-of-these-animals-is-faster-camel-or-horse) unless you have a long spear and shield/line of stakes or the charger flinches it is not going to make any differences when they crash into you.
     
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  7. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    Lol! Very good
     
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  8. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    With or without sails, there was extensive sea trade between the Danubian space, Anatolian coasts and the Aegaean Islands. It was disrupted when cultural change occurred synchronous with the arrival of waves of Indo-Europeans in the Danubian space, who then spread both West- and Southwards. Without thei intrusion, contact across the zone could have remained more intensive and more complex societies could have developed sooner instead of the relative hiatus which the 3rd millennium was in *Bulgaria and *Greece.
     
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  9. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    What would the culture of a non-Indo-European Europe caused by the proto-Indo-Europeans eating all the horses before they could domesticate them look like?
     
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  10. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    In the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, less decentralised, i.e. larger villages instead of small hamlets. More continuities with Lengyel and Funnelbeaker.
    After that, too many uncertainties.
     
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  11. Optical_Illusion Well-Known Member

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    Sort of just fleshing out my earlier answer in a way that touches more on IE:

    As I understand it, I think you'd still see some expansion that parallels early Indo-European movements probably at least across most of the Western+Central steppe zone once the wheel is invented, and wagons and carts become possible, with or without the horse. Those people could be early Indo-European speakers, of a sort, in an ATL (though they need not be).

    In our timeline, the people the current majority hypothesis suspects to be the early expansions of the proto-Indo European speakers are taken to be the Yamnaya culture (either this or a very slightly earlier archaeological phase). In simplified terms I think the idea is this seems to from form earlier groups who are mixed hunters, fishers and herders who have begun to domesticate the horse, once the wheel is invented and then wagons which allow them to become more mobile and independent from the camps that they are tied to, and from the river valleys that are sources of water and fisheries. It seems like, based on archaeogenetics, then pretty quickly after you have expansions all the way to the edge of the West-Central steppe*, in the form of the Afanasievo culture who seem genetically identical to Yamnaya, once this happens, and you also have the expansions into Europe (via the Corded Ware culture and probably other movements).

    It does seem to me like the wheel and the presence of lots of domesticated herding animals, is the pretty decisive factor in this mobility, rather than the horse. We know that at the Botai in Kazakhstan, people seem to have domesticated the horse as their only domesticated animal** - judging by archaeological evidence of milking, corraling, riding - and not have any of wheel or domesticated sheep, goats or cattle. They seem to have lived in villages and permanent settlements, not to be highly mobile and certainly don't seem to have expanded far and wide. Likewise, there is some evidence (less strong) that early cultures on the western steppe at Khvalynsk taken to be of pre-proto-Indo Europeans who were experimenting with herding also had domesticated horses. But again they don't seem to have really expanded in the big way that the Yamnaya did (though probably some interactions with cultures in Eastern Europe outside the steppe zone).

    Hence I'd say there's probably a fairly good chance of some sort of wagon using herding based expansion by people speaking a language that could have had similarities and relatedness to pIE. Though this is still rather very chancey - probably quite a few languages spoken on the Western steppe alone, and other people in SE Europe and Caucasus at least were experimenting with the wheel (and might more successfully expand into the steppes).

    Now though I don't think the horse was crucial to much of the expansion (stressing this is just my impression), I must be clear though, that it probably did have a major effect in making pIE groups more effective. In herding large herds of cattle and sheep, as a domesticated meat/milk animal in its own right (very well adapted to cold, arid grasslands esp. over winter compared to cattle and sheep), scouting around on horseback (to find good pastures, etc.), military raiding, etc. This all also has feedbacks into culture beyond the immediate practical applications. So even if you had a "no horse" wagon based pIE expansion of sorts, it would probably have been weaker in some senses, and maybe less successful in conflicts, and their language and religion may not have displaced as many others.

    *Although fascinatingly it seems, not further than the West-Central steppe. It seems that this was the limit of Yamnaya-Afanasievo Indo-European expansion, and genetic influence stalls out at moving further until much later (over a thousand years later) with late Bronze Age Western-Central steppe cultures (though to be proto-Indo-Aryan speaking / "Satem") begin to interact with Eastern steppe populations.

    The Eastern steppe populations seem to have an independent genesis, receiving domestic animals via the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor or from the Western-Central steppe, but not many people (because not many genetic signals) possibly even no people and most probably no language.

    This probably has something to do with why IE influence (in the sense of the early genetic ancestry + linguistics) in Eastern steppes remains limited today, as where it happened it probably involved of later movements in a region that already had sophisticated herding economies among groups that spoke different language families.

    Also raises interesting questions for theories that early IE groups represented by Afanasievo crossed over the mountain boundaries along the IAMC and Tian shan into the Tarim basin and were responsible for later Tocharian groups, and theories that very early IE groups had influences on early Sinitic groups.

    **There's a question about whether Botai culture actually bred horses in captivity and selected them for traits and raised them for meat, or just tamed wild horses, but certainly they did use them to riding and milking it seems, and otherwise lived in settled villages with pottery and neolithic toolkit.
     
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  12. Optical_Illusion Well-Known Member

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    Hah, I've seen arguments for the contrary about, through at least a couple channels:

    - horses make it easier to maintain long distance civilizations in general
    - horse nomads / militarily effective pastoral groups in general make it more likely for settled people to form armies to defend against raiding and intrusions and this increases tendency to form civilizations, particularly along pastoral/agricultural boundaries
    - cavalry elites are good for civilizations (increase chance of developing, and holding together)

    Though I don't quite believe them, mainly because of the Americas (it seems like the lag from first agriculture to first states and social stratification etc. is either not so different, or even takes less time in the Americas? Without horses and limited, regionally fairly restricted herding animals beyond a few Lama genus.).

    And there are probably others.

    Also I'd qualify I guess I'm maybe thinking of "more civilization" in the sense of more continuous and maybe as a share of world population, rather more than "better civilization" or even higher world population; a lot of civilization can be fairly Malthusian and not innovative for a long time, after all.
     
  13. Artaxerxes A terrible pain in my diodes

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    The steppe becomes a lot harder to live on without horses so there's less population pressure and less migrations.

    History is radically different so there will be migrations but likely not the Indo-Europeans. As part of this the lower mobility of steppe culture and outsiders sees less pressure on settled states so potentially stronger longer lasting early civilisations.

    The flow of wealth is an interesting one here because a lot of cash and goods went to and from the steppe. Payment for horses and cultural knowledge alongside it.
     
  14. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

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    If the Indo-Europeans expand more slowly, would that mean that the pre-IE peoples could adapt an agricultural package and survive for longer? More Basque-like languages in the west of Europe, for instance?
     
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  15. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Wouldn't Dravidia be a better analogy?
     
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  16. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

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    Blending IE culture/religion with that of the locals, but keeping the local languages? I could see that.

    What I meant, though, was that the pre-IE languages (like proto-Basque) would still be spoken in the west of Europe, whilst they became almost totally extinct IOTL.
     
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  17. Optical_Illusion Well-Known Member

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    Hmm... Dravidian is kind of an analogy; worth thinking about differences and similarities though. Esp as above comments got me thinking about later rise and spread of "Axial" religions. With the caveat that I don't think anyone is really totally 100% on where Dravidian languages came from yet. The hypothesis I've seen, and which seems persuasive, is that they are the language, or at least a language, group of the Indus Valley Culture.

    That is, as that IVC collapsed the people moved northeast and southeast deeper into India. The northeast moving group eventually fused with early proto-Indo-Aryan speakers moving into South Asia via somewhat male biased migrations from the northwest, and from there expanded across the Gangetic plain. While the southeast moving part absorbed lots of groups speaking other languages who had more long term ancestry on the subcontinent. Then later on as the religious system(s) forms(s) in the eastern Gangetic heartland (Hindu Synthesis and Buddhism), they spread around India and share more cultural ideas, combined with movement about by priestly groups (priestly castes/jatis), who switch languages and Dravidian speaking groups as a whole tend to keep the same language.

    Anyway, that's possibly different to Basque in that Basque is probably just a Early-Middle Neolithic language of Iberia / France that's been around in that region since then (though it's not impossible that it was a language of a Bronze Age culture elsewhere in Europe that was brought in more recently).

    You could kind of get the same dynamic if IE migrated into all the more populous, centrally connected parts of Europe, which seem more likely to generate the religious system (judging by most of the ideas about how those develop). But I actually would guess that if IE had less advantage (and assuming Yamnaya pIE theory is correct), then those parts which are in the Balkans, Italy, would remain non-IE speaking and probably its from there or the Near East that the base of religious systems form, and you probably get more like the situation in Europe today where people mostly practice a form of religion that is not Indo European in any sense of descent.
     
  18. Just a Rube Well-Known Member

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    One thing to keep in mind: horses today are not horses as they were when they were first domesticated. They've become vastly bigger. One big reason chariots mostly fell out of favor by the early classical period is that horses were now big enough that you could ride them and fight from them without needing an awkward and vulnerable chariot as a platform. Your Proto-Indo-European "horse nomads" are mostly charioteers at first; it's not until significantly later that Scythian/Hunnic/Mongol (to take 3 very different cultures that people tend to blend together) "horse nomads" as we think of them are even possible.

    It's quite possible, maybe even likely, that without horses some other animal will be bred to fill that role. Europe-Africa-Asia had lots of domesticable, ridable animals that could be bred to be bigger, stronger, faster given time. While a civilization of riding dogs/camels/whatever might be somewhat different, I doubt it would change the military dynamics that much.

    That's very different from the New World, where you have essentially no draft animals (other than llamas in some regions, which are quite small) and few domesticates of any sort (and thus few zoonoses, and other related issues).
     
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  19. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    we've had similar discussions on this topic before. Oxen/cattle can fill some of the roles of horses (wagon and plow pullers), but will not be that great of a cavalry animal, from what I'm told. I've wondered if the same thing that happened to horses (starting out small, getting selectively bred to be bigger) will happen to donkeys, except the animal will be taken from south to north instead of the other way around...
     
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  20. Mike Stearns Member

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    I recently read a deindustrial science fiction novel called Star’s Reach, in which the author posited that llamas displaced horses and cattle as the primary beast of burden.