Linguistic Archeology of the Sierra Sur, Oaxaca

Author(s): Bridget Kelly

Year: 2017


In this paper the potential for productive relationships between linguistics and archeology is discussed in the context of the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The material remains of most traded goods decompose too swiftly to be studied hundreds of years after their circulation in trade networks. However, the vocabulary that describes these goods has the potential to survive in contemporary languages. Thus, comprehensive study of linguistic data can support historical and archeological theories on the migrations of people, goods, and values. As a test case, research was conducted using the traditional comparative linguistic method and phylogenetic relations mapping software to trace phonetic changes in the Southern Zapotec spoken across five towns in the Sierra Sur. By comparing words for the trade items cited in previous archeological studies of the region to Swadesh words (words which are considered to be borrowed less frequently), the towns could be tied to trade routes outside the Sierra Sur, connecting the Valley of Oaxaca to the Southern Coast. This paper will discuss how these findings relate to and pave the way for archeological studies on the trade and migration of this understudied region.

Cite this Record

Linguistic Archeology of the Sierra Sur, Oaxaca. Bridget Kelly. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430941)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14622