WASHINGTON – Three figure-eight knots tied into strings may be the first word from the ancient Inca in centuries.
While the Incan empire left nothing that would be considered writing by today’s standards, it did produce knotted strings in various colors and arrangements that have long puzzled historians and anthropologists.
Many of these strings have turned out to be a type of accounting system, but interpreting them has been complex.
Now, Gary Urton and Carrie J. Brezine of Harvard University say they have found a three-knot pattern in some of the strings, called khipu, that they believe identifies them as coming from the city of Puruchuco, about seven miles north of modern Lima, Peru.
They used computers to analyze 21 khipu found at Puruchuco and divided them into three groups based on the knot patterns. Their findings are reported in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.
One group seems to be for local use and the other two groups — each with the three-knot pattern — may have been used to report local activities to higher authority, or to receive messages from those authorities. Details of the information from the local khipu was coded onto the others intended for travel.
In this case, the researchers believe they have found a place name in the three knots. “If that’s the case, we should ideally be able to look around at other khipu and see if we see this arrangement,” Urton said. Possible Pattern Found in Incan Strings – Yahoo! News