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Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

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Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Dragon on Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:51 pm

While Geoffrey Chaucer was writing The Canterbury Tales in late 14th century, the Inca scholars high up in the Andes were struggling to put their thoughts on paper, because the Incas—who were the largest, the most sophisticated pre-Columbian civilization to exist in South America, evidence of which can still be found in their monumental architecture, technology, urbanization, agriculture and complex societal hierarchies—had one embarrassing weakness: they didn’t have a written language.

The Inca people spoke Quechuan, but they didn’t have a script to write it down. So there are no written materials in that language. Everything we know about Quechuan is from records written by other cultures, especially the Spanish after their conquest of the Inca Empire. While Inca scholars failed to invent a script, they did develop an ingenious method of keeping record of information such as transactions, tax obligations, census records, dates, and possibly a lot more using a complicated system of threads and knots called a khipu or quipu.

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Re: Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Dragon on Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:55 pm



An example of a khipu from the Inca Empire. The more elaborate versions contained up to 1,500 or more strings.

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Re: Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Dragon on Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:57 pm



One of the great mysteries of ancient Peru is that the Inca did not have a system of writing, but communicated with a system of strings tied with knots.

For the first time, centuries-old knotted textile accounting records known as quipus were found buried with well-preserved organic material.

They were found at the archaeological site of Incahuasi, the base of operations for the Inca expansion along Peru’s southern coast.

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Re: Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Cloud on Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:19 pm

:goodposting: Love how creative they were with these, where there's a will there's a way ............

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Re: Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:26 pm

Quipus, also known as khipus or talking knots, were recording devices historically used in a number of cultures and particularly in the region of Andean South America.

Similar systems were used by the ancient Chinese and native Hawaiians, though this article specifically deals with the most familiar Inca system, and knotted string records are often generically referred to in English as quipus after the Inca term.

A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied/waxed thread or strings made from cotton or camelid fiber.

For the Inca, the system aided in collecting data and keeping records, ranging from monitoring tax obligations, properly collecting census records, calendrical information, and military organization.

The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten positional system. A quipu could have only a few or up to 2,000 cords. The configuration of the quipus have also been "compared to string mops."

Archaeological evidence has also shown a use of finely carved wood as a supplemental, and perhaps more sturdy, base on which the color-coordinated cords would be attached. A relatively small number have survived.


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Re: Strings And Knots: Inca’s Cryptic Writing System

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:30 pm



Incas and Their Knots, from Sundials to Number Engines.

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