400-year-old letter reveals 'lost' native Peruvian language

Washington, Sep 23 (ANI): A 400 year-old letter found in the ruins of an ancient Spanish colonial church in 2008 has revealed a previously unknown Peruvian native language.

The letter was found during excavations of the Magdalena de Cao Viejo church at the El Brujo Archaeological Complex in northern Peru.

It showed that an early 17th-century Spanish author had translated Spanish and Arabic numbers to an unknown language on the flip side of the letter.

"Even though [the letter] doesn't tell us a whole lot, it does tell us about a language that is very different from anything we've ever known-and it suggests that there may be a lot more out there," National Geographic News quoted Jeffrey Quilter, an archaeologist at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, as saying.

It's clearly a unique tongue, and likely one of two known only by the mention of their names in contemporary texts: Quingnam and Pescadora-"language of the fishers."

The translated numbers indicate a ten-based, or decimal system.

The Spanish colonialists "had the misfortune of having the church collapse-we think probably in the mid-to-late 17th century-which trapped the library or office where they kept their papers," Quilter said.

Rediscovering the new language helps to reinforce the rich diversity of cultures found in early colonial Americas, Quilter said.

The discovery has been published in the September issue of the journal American Anthropologist. (ANI)

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