Tying the Archive in Knots, or: Dying to Get into the Archive in Ancient Peru
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CitationUrton, Gary. 2011. "Tying the Archive in Knots, or: Dying to Get into the Archive in Ancient Peru." Journal of the Society of Archivists 32, no. 1: 5-20.
AbstractRecord keeping in the Inka Empire of the Andes of ancient Peru was based on the knotted-string recording device, the khipu (or quipu; Quechua: ‘knot'). Khipus were produced and consulted by Inka administrators for a variety of purposes, including the recording of censuses, tribute data, as well as life histories and genealogies of the Inka nobility. Cord-keepers were organized in a hierarchical arrangement of officials, from local khipukamayuqs (‘knot makers/organizers'), to higher-level officials who staffed provincial administrative centers, to state cord-keepers in the capital, Cusco. The khipu-keepers stored collections of khipus in regional centers and in Cusco where they could be consulted on a variety of matters of interest to the state. This study looks first at the way information was recorded on the knotted-cord records. This is followed by an overview of what we know to date about archival collections of khipus, including a close study of a colonial era khipu archive from the Santa Valley, on the north-central coast of Peru. Of particular note is the fact that many khipus were stored in burial chambers with ancestral mummies, a situation that left these records accessible to descendants of the ancestors, who visited the burial chambers where they paid tribute to the mummies and consulted the knot records.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33702054
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