There are many ways a college student might spend spring break. Making an archaeological breakthrough is not usually one of them. In his first year at Harvard, Manny Medrano did just that. With the help of his professor, Gary Urton, a scholar of Pre-Columbian studies, Medrano interpreted a set of six khipus, knotted cords used for record
keeping in the Inca Empire. By matching the khipus to a colonial-era Spanish census document, Medrano and Urton uncovered the meaning of the cords in greater detail than ever before.
“Toward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru,”
~ by Manuel Medrano and Gary Urton
In 2002, Urton began Harvard’s Khipu Database Project
Khipu are knotted textile record-keeping devices used by the Inkas. The Inka empire extended throughout the Andes and lasted from about 1400 A.D. until the Spanish Conquest of Peru in 1532. Through this site, you can navigate to photo
albums of khipu, detailed data on over 500 individual khipu, and information about the latest research
in khipu studies.
“Calendars in Knotted Cords: New Evidence on How Khipus Captured Time in Nineteenth-Century Cuzco and Beyond”
~ by José Carlos de la Puente