The Andes are of unquestioned significance to the human story: a cradle of agriculture and of 'pristine' civilisation with a pedigree of millennia. The Incas were but the culmination of a succession of civilisations that rose and fell to leave one of therichest archaeological records on Earth. By no coincidence, the Andes are home also to our greatest surviving link to the speech of the New World before European conquest: the Quechua language family. For linguists, the native tongues of the Andes make for another rich seam of data on origins, expansions and reversals throughout prehistory. Historians and anthropologists, meanwhile, negotiate many pitfalls to interpret the conflicting mytho-histories of the Andes, recorded for us only through the distorting prism of the conquistadors' world-view.00.