Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The linguistic past of Mesoamerica and the Andes: a search for early migratory relations between North and South America

The aim of the project is to unravel the genetic and contact relations between the indigenous languages of Mesoamerica (Mexico and western Central America) and the Middle Andes region (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia), as part of a larger endeavor to understand the historical process of the peopling of the Americas as a whole.

Duration
2012  -   2017
Contact
Willem Adelaar
Funding
ERC ERC
Partners

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The aim of the project is to unravel the genetic and contact relations between the indigenous languages of Mesoamerica (Mexico and western Central America) and the Middle Andes region (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia), as part of a larger endeavour to understand the historical process of the peopling of the Americas as a whole.

The deep genetic links between the two regions will be investigated by systematically comparing pairs of languages and language phyla between which no genetic or contact relation has been established before. The project seeks to identify pre-colonial linguistic connections at two levels of antiquity: (i) commonly inherited similarities related to the earliest migrations, and (ii) similarities due to secondary contact between the two regions after they had developed a relatively high population density. The issue will be addressed from three angles: linguistic (mainly), archaeological, and population genetic.

The project is part of a larger effort to understand the peopling of the Americas and will investigate possible pre-colonial linguistic connections at two levels:

  • common similarities related to the earliest migrations,
  • similarities that are due to language contact between the two regions after they had developed a relatively high population density.

The issue will be addressed from three angles: linguistics (mainly), archaeology, and population genetics.

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