Archaeology and Language in the Andes

Edited by Paul Heggarty and David Beresford-Jones

Published by British Academy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265031
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754142 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Archaeology and Language in the Andes

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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The Andes are of unquestioned significance to the human story: a cradle of agriculture and of ‘pristine’ civilisation with a pedigree of millennia. The Incas were but the culmination of a succession of civilisations that rose and fell to leave one of the richest archaeological records on Earth. By no coincidence, the Andes are home also to our greatest surviving link to the speech of the New World before European conquest: the Quechua language family. For linguists, the native tongues of the Andes make for another rich seam of data on origins, expansions, and reversals throughout prehistory. Historians and anthropologists, meanwhile, negotiate many pitfalls to interpret the conflicting mytho-histories of the Andes, recorded for us only through the distorting prism of the conquistadors' world-view. Each of these disciplines opens up its own partial window on the past: very different perspectives, to be sure, but all the more complementary for it. Frustratingly though, specialists in each field have all too long proceeded largely in ignorance of great strides being taken in the others. This book brings together a cast of scholars from each discipline, converging their disparate perspectives into a true cross-disciplinary focus, to weave together a coherent account of what was, after all, one and the same prehistory. The result, instructive also far beyond the Andes, is a case-study in the pursuit of a more holistic vision of the human past.

Keywords: Andes; agriculture; Incas; speech; New World; European conquest; Quechua; mytho-histories; conquistadors

Book.  440 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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