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Archaeology and Language in the Andes$
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Paul Heggarty and David Beresford-Jones

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265031

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265031.001.0001

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Central Andean Language Expansion and the Chavín Sphere of Interaction

Central Andean Language Expansion and the Chavín Sphere of Interaction

(p.134) (p.135) 6 Central Andean Language Expansion and the Chavín Sphere of Interaction
Archaeology and Language in the Andes


British Academy

This chapter explores the possibility that the development of the Chavín Horizon may have stimulated the expansion of one of the major central Andean language families, particularly Aymara, once spread much more widely and further north than today. Pre-Chavín cultures on the coast and in the highlands are reviewed and found to be unlikely sources of this expansion. While the Chavín Horizon may provide a possible source for the first expansion of Aymara, in terms of both its chronology and widespread geographical impact, the ‘strong hypotheses’ proposed to explain the expansion are found to be unconvincing, particularly that linking the expansion to the adoption of maize as a staple. Other hypotheses emphasizing the role of religion and cosmopolitanism are proposed as possible alternatives. The current discussion is placed within the larger context of the history of Andean archaeology and historical linguistics and is viewed as an important step forward in resolving this long-standing problem.

Keywords:   Chavín Horizon, language families, Andes, Aymara, religion, cosmopolitanism, Andean archaeology, historical linguistics

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