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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Incas used the quipu, a knotted cord device, for administrative and historical record-keeping. This chapter summarizes the modern scholarship on the quipu, which uses colonial documents and analyses of the construction and numerical composition of surviving quipus. Seventeenth-century sources describe how quipu records were calculated using the yupana, a simple device for performing basic arithmetic functions. Most of the extant quipus are found in museums or private collections, removed from their original context, but the recent discovery of several quipus that were left at the coastal site of Inkawasi when it was abandoned offer a unique opportunity to consider how they were used to register the movement of staple goods moving in and out of an Inca imperial storage facility.

Keywords: quipu, yupana, Inca, Inkawasi, record-keeping

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