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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

17th-Century Letter Bears Unknown Peruvian Language

Beneath the ruins of a collapsed church some 350 miles from Lima, archaeologists uncovered a letter, on the back of which is a list of numbers written in what they believe is a previously-unknown, Peruvian language. Dominican friars lived in the church near Trujillo for nearly two centuries.

The numbers are written in Spanish and translated into the language, which experts say has not been seen nor spoken since the 16th or 17th -Century, but believe is related to Quechua, a language still spoken by millions throughout the Andes. Jeffrey Quilter, an archaeologist at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, believes it may be, or be related to, a Colonial-era language contemporary Spaniards referred to as pescadora. Pescadora was named for the Northern Peruvian fishermen who spoke it, though no written form of the language has ever been found.

The letter was discovered in 2008.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

1 comment:

  1. When I wrote this, I meant to add that, from my armchair, I think the assumption that the unknown language is Pescadora is bolstered by the fact that it was merely a numerical system. While more of the language may exist in written form, as fishermen, they probably wouldn't have much need for it; a written numerical system would, at some point, be necessary. This point would be when the concept of "credit" took hold, as it is certain to have, eventually.