Quechua’s Southern Boundary: The Case of Santiago del Estero, Argentina


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

Quechua’s Southern Boundary: The Case of Santiago del Estero, Argentina

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


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This chapter examines the far southern boundary of Quechua's spread throughout the Andes. It argues that Quechua reached north-west Argentina in Inka times and that it was widely used during the colonial period as well. The rationale for this argument is based primarily on evidence for (1) the extent of Inka resettlements in Argentina; (2) the nature of Inka relations with local peoples in the far south; and (3) continued use of Quechua under the Spaniards, as described in the documentary sources. Less clear are the precise population movements that brought Quechua speakers initially to Santiago del Estero, as the archaeological record suggests that the Inka frontier lay higher up the slopes in the provinces of Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, and Catamarca, where the majority of Inka installations are found. The documents reveal that activities of the Spaniards had further, far-reaching consequences for Quechua's presence in the south Andes, and that ultimately Quechua was replaced in most of north-west Argentina by Spanish.

Keywords: Andes; Inka resettlements; Spanish; population movements; Quechua

Chapter.  13885 words.  Illustrated.

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

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