Quipu: Counting with knots in the Inka Empire – 2003




Inaugurated during the 51st International Congress of Americanists, this exhibit was the first in the world to focus exclusively on these instruments that used knotted cords to record information. Reaching their peak of splendor and complexity with the Inka Empire, at first glance the quipus are quite unremarkable objects and very similar to each other in appearance. For this reason, only a few were used in the exhibit, including two quipus from the American Museum of Natural History in New York and other quipus from Laguna de los Cóndores (Peruvian northern highlands) and from Arica (Chilean North), which represent the two extremes of the known geographic distribution of this fascinating instrument. The exhibit was organized in collaboration with Harvard University and with the curatorial and academic assistance of  anthropologist Dr. Gary Urton, the leading authority on these Andean pre-Columbian instruments.