Harvard student helps crack my
Manny Medrano displays a model of khipu knots, an information system that the Inca used to tally and record data.
Itâ€™s a mystery that has left many scholars flummoxed. For all the achievements of the Inca Empire, including a massive roadway system, sophisticated farming methods, and jawdropping architecture, it was the only pre-Columbian state that did not invent a system of writing. Instead, the Inca, whose civilization originated in Peru and grew to include peoples and cultures all along the west coast of South America from 1400 to 1532, relied on knotted strings to encode information, a system so complex that scholars still struggle to make sense of it. 70 Good Teacher Magazine Term 2 2018
Which is what makes the work of Harvard student Manny Medrano all the more remarkable. The young student provided new insight into how the Inca recorded information by analyzing the colors and the direction of the knots placed on the strings, known as khipus. The discovery could be a first step to unlocking far more Inca history. Three years ago, freshman Medrano was working as a research assistant for Gary Urton, the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies and chair in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. Medrano, then just 19, decided to spend his spring break analyzing the data from six khipus that were found in the collection of an old Italian count whoâ€™d lived in Peru.
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Term 2 Issue of the Good Teacher Magazine for 2018