When the last Inca emperor and the conquistador from Extremadura, Spain, met in Cajamarca, Peru, on Saturday, 16 November 1532, a world separated them, but they had one thing in common: neither knew how to read. In Andean popular culture and historical analysis, Atahualpa and Francisco Pizarro remain the protagonists of that formidable collision of worlds, in which the most powerful man of the Tawantinsuyo, the Inca empire, which stretched from Ecuador to northern Argentina, confronted a Spanish adventurer who was seeking an easy fortune, well aware that this encounter was his last and greatest opportunity. Beyond a mnemonic system of colored knots called quipus, which registered population numbers and other types of numerical accounting, the Incas did not know writing. Pizarro was an illegitimate child from a rich family and apparently had been a swineherd as a boy. It has been repeated that despite his illiteracy, he belonged to the “civilization of the sign” while Atahualpa, despite his power, was condemned for belonging to “the culture of orality.” However, according to legend, during his months of prison, out of curiosity the Inca learned some Spanish words and wrote on the fingernail of his thumb the word Dios (“God”). It is said that he showed it to Pizarro, asking him what it meant, and found that his rival could not read it. From the prison cell of a condemned man and the site of his punishment, Atahualpa engaged in what might have been the first critical reappropriation of the Castilian language (Garcilaso, Historia 98; bk. 1, ch. 33).