RE: FWD (Got Caliche?/FT) Quipus textile mystery

From: Terry W. Colvin (
Date: Thu Jun 15 2000 - 10:28:48 MDT

Skeptic and Extropians list take for the first time - TWC.

Oh deary deary me, another one :-)

What's happening here is a clash of belief, a refusal to accept that the
spanish accounts give a full account of the way to "read" Quipu, and that
the quipu still in use today (and fully documented in the 19th C) *must*
be degenerate forms and that the "lost knowledge" of the Inca priests *must*
have included the original, complex, way in which to "code" a higher
level of information than mere accounting.

Why? Well, the classic definition of a civilisation includes possession of
a writing system, but the Incas had no writing system...DOES NOT COMPUTE!!>>

Rather than accept that the classical definition of "civilisation" needs to
be reassessed in regard to the Incas, assume the Inca quipu were much more
versatile and complex than reported so that they can qualify as a "writing
system", and thus save the classical definition from extinction!
The Status Quo is SAVED! My Hero <sigh>.

That view ignores the fact that there were many pre-inca civilisations in Peru/
Bolivia & Ecuador (EG:the Chimu, who's Valley Canal system is an engineering
equal to, if not exceeding China's Great Wall and Egypt's Great Pyramid) NONE
of which had any form of "writing system" nor even anything that could be
perceptually contorted into one.

I think Fort himself would have appreciated the irony of a situation where
orthodox/conventional archaeologists and anthropologists are, like the
unconventional/alternative camp, claiming there is "lost knowledge", "encoded"
in artifacts and hidden in secret "codes" known only to a lost and extinct
Úlite :-).

For more info on the clash between evidence and classical belief see;
Richard Rudley's "Lost Civilisations of The Stone Age"
For a full account of how to use and read Quipu see;
Georges Ifra's "The Universal History of Numbers".

"Sponsored by Ironies Unlimited; a branch of Ironies Unintentional"

>Terry Trumpeted;
> Anthropologist Gary Urton is one of 25
>individuals selected to be a MacArthur Fellow. Urton studies the
>prehistoric culture of the Incas, and has been working to crack the code of
>the ancient system of dyed, intricately knotted strings that the Incas used
>to record their history, environment and culture. By studying quipus and
>Spanish records he hopes to connect quipus to a written language. Urton has
>approached this textile mystery in an ingenious way. He has become fluent
>in Quechua, the language used by the Incas, an expert on Incan mathematics,
>and has studied the symbolic meaning of colors and the intrinsic
>mathematics and patterns associated with textile weaving in the Andes region.
-----------------End of Original Message-----------------

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA)
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