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Monday, March 5

The Inca khipu challenge

Wired 15.01: Untangling the Mystery of the Inca

Yet, if centuries of scholarship are to be believed, the Inca, whose rule began 2,000 years after Homer, never figured out how to write. It's an enigma known as the Inca paradox, and for nearly 500 years it has stood as one of the great historical puzzles of the Americas. But now a Harvard anthropologist named Gary Urton may be close to untangling the mystery.

His quest revolves around strange, once-colorful bundles of knotted strings called khipu (pronounced KEY-poo). The Spanish invaders noticed the khipu soon after arriving but never understood their significance ? or how they worked.

This is the most complete, non-academic explanation of Gary Urton's research into the mysteries of the Inca record-keeping system. These artefacts are fascinating, but on a completely different paradigm than anything created by the Western mind.

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