Prof. (Emeritus) Jan Szemiński

Research Interests:

My interests concern the Inca culture and empire in various epochs, for example: Language image of world as expressed in Quechua language, and language as a historical source; Inca classification systems as expressed in language and proper names; Oral tradition as a historical source and the ways of reconstructing an oral tradition destroyed by translation and censorship; Inca image of social structure, government, and human duties; Ethnic bonds in the Inca society and their evolution.


I grew up in Warsaw, ruined and rebuilt. I studied in Warsaw University. My tutor was prof. Marian Małowist, a medievalist, who admitted research on non European themes, and thus I worked on the functions of local communities in the Inca state and under the Spanish rule in 16th c. In 1968 I began to work in the Center of Latin American Studies in the Institute of History of Polish Academy of Sciences. My chief and tutor of my doctorate was prof. Tadeusz Łepkowski, specialist in processes of building national consciousness in Latin American countries and among populations of central and eastern Europe.  We - the group of latinoamericanists - published a history of Latin America 1750-1980, and also a yearly interdisciplinary volume of studies on Latin American subjects “Estudios Latinoamericanos” published until now. In 1974 I went to Peru in search of sources and publications on the greatest Inca Uprising against Spanish rule in 1780-1783. The result was my Ph. D. thesis, sustained in 1979 in the Institute of History. In 1980 I was invited to an international seminar on the bicentenary of the 1780 Uprising, and I got  a job the University San Cristobal de Huamanga, in Ayacucho. One day I read announcement, that east-European agents were guilty of terrorism in Ayacucho. So I escaped to Lima and to Warsaw, just in time for general Jaruzelski’s military coup. Thanks to a Peruvian friend I got an invitation to work at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, and in 1983 Igot there but I did not manage to legalize my work at the University, so after a year and half my wife and I went to Israel. I got a job at the Hebrew University.

Project Abstract

Coronavirus and lock-down reduced my project in a new way. Now my objectives are:

To write a clear description of the model of Inca image of time and space, gathered from the results of my previous studies on Inca theory of history, Inca image of space, Inca language image of the world, Inca image of a human being’s life. The final result should have the form of a paper for the final workshop.

To learn how researchers of other cultures, away from the Inca world, create their models of time and space, with the sources that they encountered.

To compare my model with the models created by other researchers of the Inca culture, and with the models produced for other cultures.

To organize a workshop on Inca time and space. I have already invited to take part, by ZOOM, in total 6 specialists each one occupied in different aspect, or phenomenon of Inca culture. If they will be able to take part, the workshop can produce an additional result: A collection of 6 texts in more or less simple English for the use of general public.

Coronavirus projects, with no access to libraries, archives, museums, with no direct contact with other researchers, each one a prisoner of the situation, will not discover new sources and new ways to study them. Such projects, however, can revise our knowledge of the researched phenomena and contrast the results. Thus they will, I hope, indicate gaps in our reconstruction, in this particular case, of the Inca view of time and space. Comparison with other cultures’ views may permit us to discover some traits of human grammar describing time and space.

Curriculum vitae


1968: M.A. in History, Warsaw University 

1979: Ph. D  in Humanities - History, Institute of  History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw

1994: Ph.D.hab. in Humanities - General History, Warsaw University


1968-1983: Center of Latin American History, Institute of  History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw 

1981: Social Sciences Department, Universidad Nacional San Cristobal de Huamanga, Ayacucho 

1983-1984: Faculty of History, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima 

1984-2013: Department of Iberian and Latin American Studies, Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

At the universities I taught Latin American history, ethnohistory of Andean Indians, Quechua language

2013 – Professor emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Selected Publications

(1993) La utopia tupamarista. Segunda edición, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Fondo editorial, Lima. 

(1997) Wira Quchan y sus obras. Teología andina y lenguaje, 1550-1662. Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Banco Central de Reserva del Perú, Lima. 

(2006) Léxico quechua de Fray Domingo de Santo Thomas 1560. Convento de Santo Domingo Qorikancha, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sociedad Polaca de Estudios Latinaomericanos, Santo Oficio, Cuzco (Ed.).

(2009) Un ejemplo de larga tradición histórica andina. Libro • 2º delas Memo[rí]as antiguas Historiales Y poLiticas del PirU redactado por Fernando de Montesinos. Madrid, Iberoamericana.

(2016) De las vidas del Inka Manqu Qhapaq. Manqu Qhapaq Inkap Kawsasqankunamanta. Segunda edición aumentada y corregida Ediciones El Lector S.R.L, Arequipa.