Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Language and Warfare: Prehispanic Pukaras and Scholars’ Battle Over Andean Militarism

Language and Warfare: Prehispanic Pukaras and Scholars’ Battle Over Andean Militarism

Stanislava Chavez

The word pukara has always been translated from Quechua into Spanish as fortaleza (English fortress), including in the early 16th and 17th century dictionaries. However, pukara seems to be an unrecognized polysemic word, resulting from different meanings of warfare in European and Andean traditions. Today, the word pukara is used by Andean archaeologists to describe structures which they perceive as fortresses – however, there are disagreements about the true nature of many of such sites, whether they are in fact military or ceremonial. In this study, I have analyzed several of the 16th and early 17th century documents written by people of Inca descent (including the works of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, Juan Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamayhua, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega), as well as by Spaniards in the same era (such as Cieza de León, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Joseph de Acosta, and Bernabé Cobo). I examined these texts looking for contexts in which the word pukara is used, and I have determined that while this word is used more frequently in military contexts, there are also instances which show a ceremonial meaning.

April 9, 2014 - Posted by | abstract

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