News FocusAnthropology

Cracking the Khipu Code

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Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1650-1651
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5626.1650

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Researchers are taking a fresh look at the cryptic Incan knotted strings known as khipu, which were long viewed simply as mnemonic devices or textile abacuses. Some are now suggesting that these complex textiles may have been a written language that used a binary code to store information. If so, this ancient three-dimensional writing system was unlike any other on Earth.