As part of the Pre-Columbian Society of New York Lecture Series with Jeffrey C. Splitstoser, the NYU Institute of Fine Arts presents
The Andean Khipu in Context with other Knotted String Traditions of the Americas
Jeffrey C. Splitstoser (George Washington University)
Thursday, September 7, 2023 @ 6:00-7:30pm
The James B. Duke House
1 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10075
This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
RSVP for in-person attendance | RSVP for virtual attendance
A search of "knotted string records" produces a slew of references to "Quipu/Khipu," the information system used by the Inkas to manage their vast South American empire. Yet the use of knotted strings to keep track of information was widespread throughout not only the Americas but the whole world. While khipus may be the most sophisticated example of knotted string devices, they are/were not alone. After briefly reviewing the various knotted mnemonic devices known to have existed in the Americas, this talk will explore in depth the similarities and differences between Inka khipus and a sophisticated, yet relatively unknown, Costa Rican knotted-string census from 1874.
Jeffrey C. Splitstoser is assistant research professor of anthropology at the George Washington University and vice president of the Boundary End Archaeology Research Center. He has studied ancient Andean textiles for over 20 years, having recently discovered (with Tom Dillehay, Jan Wouters and Anna Claro) the world’s earliest known use of indigo blue in a 6,200-year-old cotton textile from the prehistoric site of Huaca Prieta. Dr. Splitstoser specializes in Wari “khipus,” colored and knotted string devices that Andean peoples used to record information. He co-curated (with Juan Antonio Murro) the exhibition Written in Knots: Undeciphered Records of Andean Life at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. Dr. Splitstoser’s research includes reproducing the khipus and textile structures he encounters: processing, spinning and dyeing the fibers, as well as growing cotton and dye plants. Dr. Splitstoser is an editor of the journals Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing and Ancient America and was the guest editor of volume 49 of The Textile Museum Journal. He was a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and is currently a research associate of the Institute of Andean Studies and a Cosmos Club Scholar. Dr. Splitstoser received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
The program will be presented onsite at the James B. Duke House and live-streamed to those who join us by Zoom. Zoom details will be available upon registration for virtual attendees.