Broadening Our Horizons: Towards an Interdisciplinary Prehistory of the Andes


in Archaeology and Language in the Andes

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

Broadening Our Horizons: Towards an Interdisciplinary Prehistory of the Andes

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


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This chapter proposes a new and more coherent interdisciplinary prehistory of the Andes, based firstly on a long overdue re-examination of the relationships between the various regional ‘dialects’ within the Quechua language family; and secondly on a more satisfactory correlation with the archaeological record. The founding principle is that language families necessarily reflect past expansive processes, whose traces should also be clear in the archaeological record. It provides a logic by which to assess correspondences between archaeological and linguistic patterns, on the three levels of when, where, and why particular language expansions occurred. In the Andes, the horizons thus offer the most natural explanations for the major Quechua and Aymara dispersals. With the Incas too late for the time-depth of either family, the Wari Middle Horizon emerges as the most plausible candidate for the first major expansion of Quechua, and not (as per traditional linguistic thinking) of the Aymara family, here tentatively associated with the Early Horizon instead.

Keywords: regional dialects; Quechua language family; language families; archaeological record; Aymara; Wari Middle Horizon

Chapter.  11888 words.  Illustrated.

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

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