Middle Horizon Imperialism and the Prehistoric Dispersal of Andean Languages


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

Middle Horizon Imperialism and the Prehistoric Dispersal of Andean Languages

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


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The dispersal of the Romance language family by the Roman Empire is an attractive model for examining the spread of Quechua. Wari and Tiwanaku are often considered the first Andean empires, during the Middle Horizon (cal. ad 650–1050). Despite being contemporaries sharing the same religious iconography, they were unlikely to have spoken and dispersed the same language. Tiwanaku material culture rather implies ethnic and linguistic diversity, not least in its best-documented colonization in Moquegua. Wari, meanwhile, appears culturally and administratively unified, colonizing and controlling a territory across southern Peru, from Cuzco to Nasca. If Wari was responsible for a language dispersal, then this should represent its core territory; and it is indeed the heart of Southern Quechua. In northern Peru, Wari presence seems less intense, its rule more complex and indirect. The Moche region remained essentially beyond Wari influence, while for the central coast and distant Aguada culture more research is needed.

Keywords: language dispersal; Romance language; Quechua; Wari; Tiwanaku

Chapter.  11101 words.  Illustrated.

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

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