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dc.contributor.authorHyland, Sabine Patricia
dc.identifier.citationHyland , S P 2017 , ' Writing with twisted cords : the inscriptive capacity of Andean khipus ' , Current Anthropology , vol. 58 , no. 3 , pp. 412-419 .
dc.identifier.otherPURE: 248682984
dc.identifier.otherPURE UUID: 17d2532b-47ac-4218-aac8-fa0b5018ba7f
dc.identifier.otherScopus: 85020443391
dc.identifier.otherWOS: 000402989300029
dc.description.abstractTwo newly discovered khipu (Andean twisted cord) epistles are presented as evidence that khipus could constitute an intelligible writing system, accessible to decipherment. Recent scholars have asserted that khipus were merely memory aides recording only numbers, despite Spanish witnesses who claimed that Inka era (1400 - 1532 CE) khipus encoded narratives and were sent as letters. In 2015, the author examined two khipus preserved by village authorities in Peru. Villagers state that these sacred khipus are narrative epistles about warfare. Analysis reveals that the khipus contain 95 different symbols, a quantity within the range of logosyllabic writing, and notably more symbols than in regional accounting khipus. A shared, mutually comprehensive communication system of such complexity presupposes a writing system, possibly logosyllabic. At the end of each khipu epistle, cord sequences of distinct colours, animal fibres and ply direction appear to represent lineage ("ayllu") names.
dc.relation.ispartofCurrent Anthropologyen
dc.rightsAccepted manuscript: © 2017 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. This work has been made available online with permission from the publisher. This is the author created accepted version manuscript following peer review and as such may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at
dc.rights© 2017 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at:
dc.subjectWriting systemsen
dc.subjectGN Anthropologyen
dc.subjectArts and Humanities(all)en
dc.subjectSocial Sciences(all)en
dc.titleWriting with twisted cords : the inscriptive capacity of Andean khipusen
dc.typeJournal articleen
dc.description.versionPublisher PDFen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. Social Anthropologyen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studiesen
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden

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