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Press Release 05-137 - Video
See examples of the khipus from the Harvard collection.


Anthropologists at Harvard University have found evidence that ancient Inka accountants shared numbers across their sprawling bureaucratic hierarchy using khipus, aggregations of knotted strings that served to record information in the Andean empire. The finding sheds new light on the uses of khipus, used by Inkans in lieu of the two-dimensional writing favored by other ancient civilizations. See examples of the objects from the Harvard University Khipu Database Project.

Credit: Gary Urton, the Khipu Database Project, Harvard University/Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

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