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When analyzed statistically, the distribution of verbal elements in some written sources, like that of objects in archeological sites, yields culture-historical data independent of artifacts' intended meaning. A 1559 case study from highland Ecuador uses personal names and their parts to detect cultural differences in aboriginal society and their changing relation to superordinate Inca culture. This can be done even with undeciphered names from an extinct language, suggesting a fortiori that the method is generalizable.