Research on Intelligent Design

To put together scientific advances from the perspective of Intelligent Design.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Incan Khipus Defy Computer Analysis

The next is the number 55 of the 100 top science histories for 2005 according to Discover magazine:

Are Incan Knots A Crackable Code?
By Anne Casselman [Discover, Jan. 2006, 27(1):40.]

A khipu from the Nazca River valley is so elaborate that it has defied computer analysis.
Photo Courtesy Gary Urton, Museum of Ethnology, Sweden.

The Incas didn't leave any written words behind, but they did leave behind khipus—knotted, colored, and twisted textile strings that seemed to serve as a record-keeping system for the largest state in the ancient New World.

In August Harvard University anthropologist Gary Urton and his colleague Carrie Brezine reported the first clear signs of shared information embedded in 7 of 21 khipus from Puruchuco, an Incan palace and administrative center on the coast of Peru.

"For the first time we've been able to see khipus that are communicating with each other," says Urton.
Urton and Brezine also found a series of three figure-eight knots repeated in some of the seven Puruchuco khipus. They believe this redundant element may code for the town itself or its khipu keeper.

Finding information that extends beyond administrative inventory is especially tantalizing...

"If we learn how to read and interpret these khipus, it will for the first time allow us to see inside the empire from the point of view of the people who lived in those times themselves," says Urton. "And if it turns out to be a system of writing, then it sort of throws open the question of what writing is."
Historian Leland Locke first determined in the 1920s that khipus contained numerical data.

By the 1970s Cornell University anthropologist Robert Ascher, and his wife, mathematician Marcia Ascher at Ithaca College, concluded that more than 20 percent of the khipus were nonnumerical.

In 2002 Urton began consolidating minutiae about more than 700 surviving khipus as part of the Khipu Database Project.

"Ultimately, what we want to do is decipher the khipus or at least determine whether they are decipherable or not," he says. "And that's a question that's still open."
More Pictures on Khipus (also Quipo or Quipu):

Gary Urton & Carrie Brezine colection:

From their site:


Post a Comment

<< Home