Heggarty, Paul, 2008

Linguistics for archaeologists:  a case-study in the Andes

Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18(1), 35-56

  


Abstract

In the previous issue of CAJ, Heggarty (2007) set out how certain key principles and methods of historical linguistics can be exploited to open up another window on the past, from a perspective quite different and complementary to that offered by the archaeological record. Following this up, we turn here to an ideal case-study for exploring how the various patterns in linguistic (pre–)histories can be matched with their most plausible correlates in the archaeological data. Beyond our initial illustration of the Incas we now look further afield, to set the sequence of major civilizations of the Andes into its linguistic context, tracing the expansion trajectories of the main Andean language families further back in time, stage by stage, ultimately to their most plausible original homelands. The linguistic story emerges starkly at odds with assumptions widely held among archaeologists of the region. Indeed we encounter a paradigm case of how only a radical rethinking can reconcile our two disciplines’ findings into a single, coherent, holistic prehistory for a human population — in the Andes, a prize now tantalizingly within our reach.

 


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