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17th Century Letter Reveals Lost Andean Language

An archaeological dig at a 17th Century site in Peru has uncovered a letter that contains words from a previously lost language. The language appears to be related to Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andes still spoken today. Jeffrey Quilter, a Harvard archaeologist, proposed a possible origin for the language:

He said it could also be the written version of a language colonial-era Spaniards referred to in historical writings as pescadora, for the fishermen on Peru's northern coast who spoke it.

So far no record of the pescadora language has been found.

The letter, buried in the ruins of the Magdalena de Cao Viejo church at the El Brujo Archaeological Complex in northern Peru, was discovered in 2008.[...]

"I think a lot of people don't realize how many languages were spoken in pre-contact times," Quilter said. "Linguistically, the relationship between the Spanish conquistadors and the indigenous was very complex."


Link | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user quinet used under Creative Commons license

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