He was previously professor of anthropology at colgate university from 1978 to 2002. Knotted strings were used by many other cultures such as the ancient chinese and native hawaiians, but. The social lives of andean textiles symposium on april 14, 2014. Quipus, sometimes known as khipus or talking knots, citation needed were recording devices historically used in the region of andean south america. From middle horizon cordkeeping to the rise of inka khipus in the central andes volume 88 issue 339 gary urton. A quipu with knots removed from its cords and reknotted is, strictly speaking. In the early years of the spanish conquest of peru, spanish officials often relied on the quipu to settle disputes over local tribute payments or goods production. The word khipu or quipu is a quechua word for knot. Archaeologists michael medrano and gary urton compared six quipus said to have been recovered from a burial in the santa river valley of coastal peru, to data from a spanish colonial administrative census conducted in 1670. With so few examples left to study, we may never learn all the secrets tied up in the knots. Gary urton is dumbarton oaks professor of precolumbian studies in the department of anthropology at harvard. The revisit describes a census of the population of what are described as six pachacas onehundreds.
We are hopeful that exploring different approaches to recording language with knots will lead to insights into solving the mystery of the quipu. It has a total of 586 strings, including 88 pendant strings bearing up to levels of subsidiary strings. Binary coding in the andean knottedstring records ebook written by gary urton. In inka history in knots, urton marshals a lifetime of study to offer a grand overview of the types of quantative information recorded in khipus and to show how these records can be used as primary sources for an inka. Khipu are knottedstring devices that were used for bureaucratic recording and communication in the inka empire. In this book, gary urton sets forth a pathbreaking theory that the manipulation of fibers in the construction of khipu created physical features that constitute binarycoded sequences which store units of information in a system of binary recordkeeping that was used throughout the inka empire. This quipu, made entirely of camelid hair, was found in an inka cemetery in the lluta valley, in arica, and through meticulous study and radiocarbon dating, ascertained to be around 450 years old. The khipu database project kdp, begun by gary urton, may have already decoded the first word from a quiputhe name of a village, puruchucowhich urton believes was represented by a threenumber sequence, similar to a zip code. This chapter summarizes the modern scholarship on the quipu, which uses colonial documents and analyses of the construction and numerical composition of surviving quipus.
Many thanks to brian damiata and the keckccams group at. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study. Awarded best reference 2015 by library journal, march 1, 2016. Results indicate that this khipu archive exemplifies the way in which census and tribute data were synthesized, manipulated, and transferred. A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings made from cotton or camelid fiber. Gary urton archaeology harvard carrie brezine archaeology harvard. The inca empire 14381533 had its own spoken language, quechua, which is still spoken by about a third of the peruvian population.
We know that numeric information was stored by the incas using quipus, a digital knot. Inka history in knots reading khipus as primary sources by. The jesuit and the incas the extraordinay life of padre blas valera, s. Urton is a specialist in andean archaeology, particularly the quipu khipu numerical.
A lost language encoded in intricate cords is finally revealing its secrets and it could upend what we know about incan. In ethnoastronomy and archaeoastronomy in the american tropics, edited by anthony f. However gary urton has suggested that the quipus used a binary system which could record phonological or logographic data. The invention of taxation in the inka empire latin american. En ethnoastronomy and archaeoastronomy in the american tropics, anthony f. Gary urton is the dumbarton oaks professor of precolumbian studies at harvard university. They believe that quipu was inca writing with an alphabet formed of string. Gary urton, an anthropologist and carrie brezine a mathematician claim there are semantic as well as numerical elements in quipus. From middle horizon cordkeeping to the rise of inka khipus. Additionally, sue bergh, gary urton, bill conklin, sumru aricanli, and christine giuntini all provided helpful guidance in regards to both khipu research and ams dating of archaeological textiles. The secret weapon of cultural imperialism, bishop 1990 argues that western european colonizing societies of the 15th to 19th centuries were especially effective in imposing on subordinate popula. We will also provide real quipu data from the urtonbrezine database at harvard for the ambitious code breaker to work on.
Pdf gary urton argues that the khipu employed a sevenbit system of. Sabine hyland the university of michigan press ann arbor hylandftmat. The information system of the middle horizon quipus. This article focuses on a linked pair of documents from midseventeenthcentury coastal peru. A lost language encoded in intricate cords is finally revealing its secrets and it.
A student mines voices from the incan past harvard gazette. Results indicate that this khipu archive exemplifies the way in. We will also provide real quipu data from the urton brezine database at harvard for the ambitious code breaker to work on. Undergrad deciphers meaning of knots, giving native south american people a chance to speak. Published as an ebook by amazon 2017 2015 encyclopedia of the incas. The incas used the quipu, a knotted cord device, for administrative and historical recordkeeping. We recently undertook a computer analysis of 21 khipu from the inka administrative center of puruchuco, on the central coast of peru. Gary urton is dumbarton oaks professor of precolumbian studies in the. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read signs of the inka khipu. Quipu also spelled khipu, or talking knots, are recording devices fashioned from strings historically used by a number of cultures in the region of andean south america.
Toward the decipherment of a set of midcolonial khipus. He claims that the quipus contain a sevenbit binary code capable of conveying more than 1,500 separate units of information. Quipus or khipus sometimes called talking knots were recording devices used in the inca empire and its predecessor societies in the andean region. Toward the decipherment of a set of midcolonial khipus from. Brezine khipu are knottedstring devices that were used for bureaucratic recording and communication in the inka empire. Forthcoming in khipus, edited by cecilia pardo and gary urton. It is generally thought that the system did not include phonetic symbols analogous to letters of the alphabet.
He cites its extravagant claims about pizarro and valera and wonders why this method of quipu decipherment has not surfaced in other chronicles. Its place in the history of communication by leo j. Mar 01, 2014 gary urton, an anthropologist and carrie brezine a mathematician claim there are semantic as well as numerical elements in quipus. Mathematics and accounting in the andes before and after the. Most of us consider postal history to be the study of how a paper with writing on it was carried in some sort of organized fashion from place to place. A quipu usually consisted of colored spun and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair. Gary urton of harvard university has created a khipu database wherein data of all extant khipu are. Incas, peru archaeology, khipus quipus colonial peru, and peruvian archaeology. Mathematics and accounting in the andes before and after. A study by manny medrano 19 from right, with guidance from professor gary urton, has decoded the meaning behind khipus, an incan bookkeeping method of knotted rope. Mathematics and accounting in the andes before and after the spanish conquest in an article entitled western mathematics. Talking knots of the inka archaeology magazine archive. Gary urton is dumbarton oaks professor of precolumbian studies in the department of anthropology at harvard university.
The combination of fiber types, dye colors, and intricate knotting could be a novel form of written language, according to harvard anthropologist gary urton. If this conjecture is correct, quipus are the only known example of a complex language recorded in a 3d system. Gary urton speaks on the social life of khipus at our woven worlds. To date, no link has yet been found between a quipu and quechua, the native language of the peruvian andes. Gary urton, harvard university, anthropology department, faculty member.846 307 644 1014 897 377 1509 396 987 1025 652 1344 12 1501 1243 1174 894 367 149 543 1154 1522 991 525 799 1424 469 851 625 1454 1328 387 1106 1425