Ancient Knots (Not Quite) Unravelled

We’ve written here before about khipus (also known as quipus) which are ancient Incan tools made up of a series of knotted cords that were used to transfer information. The khipus were translated based on teh color and number of cords as well as the type, number, and positioning of the knots on each cord. While archaeologists and historians know they were used for accounting, taxation, and other bureaucratic purposes, they may have also been used to record genealogies, cultural stories, and calendars. Unfortunately while we know a little bit about khipus, on the whole translating them has been a difficult process. Recently, though, archaeologists in Peru discovered an Incan storehouse complete with (so far) 29 khipus in it. Because the khipus are probably describing something fairly simple, they may be easier to decipher. Better yet, once archaeologists figure out how to decipher these simpler khifus, it might be possible to read the more complicated ones that can help us learn more about the Incan people. (A big thanks to Thrums Books for letting us know about this new development on their Facebook page!)


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