Untangling an Accounting Tool and an Ancient Incan Mystery

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tags: archaeology, Ancient Inca, khipus

Thumbnail Image - An example of a khipus from the Inca Empire."Inca Quipu" by Claus Ableiter nur hochgeladen aus enWiki - enWiki, hochgeladen von User Lyndsaruell; siehe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Inca_Quipu.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

In a dry canyon strewn with the ruins of a long-dead city, archaeologists have made a discovery they hope will help unravel one of the most tenacious mysteries of ancient Peru: how to read the knotted string records, known as khipus, kept by the Incas.

At the site called Incahuasi, about 100 miles south of Lima, excavators have found, for the first time, several khipus in the place where they were used — in this case, a storage house for agricultural products where they appear to have been used as accounting books to record the amount of peanuts, chili peppers, beans, corn and other items that went in and out.

In some cases the khipus — the first ones were found at the site in 2013 — were buried under the remnants of centuries-old produce, which was preserved thanks to the extremely dry desert conditions.

Read entire article at NYT

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