Untangling the Mystery of the Inca

The ancient Andean empire built great cities but left no written records – except perhaps in mysterious knotted strings called khipu. Can an anthropologist and some mathematicians crack the code?

That’s the lead-in to this Wired magazine article by Gareth Cook, which details how Harvard anthropologist Gary Urton has turned the pattern-detecting power of mathematics to help decipher khipu, ancient patterns of knots and string that appear to encode information, perhaps even stories or poems, of the Incan empire.

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