Identifying Possible Inca Census Records in Khipu from Pachacamac

Author(s): Dennis Ogburn

Year: 2015


One of the primary categories of data recorded by the Incas on their knotted string accounting devices (khipu) is detailed census numbers from different administrative units, yet no existing khipu has been identified as containing such population records. In this analysis, Inca concepts of age categories and hierarchical ranking are used to predict a number of different formats for recording census data. Existing data tables of khipu were examined to determine if any matched these expectations, and at least two khipu, both from Pachacamac, were found to closely match one of the primary formats predicted. Analysis showed the numbers on those khipu conform closely to the expected demographic composition that would be represented by Inca age categories, and the numbers on the two khipu further suggest the records are for several hunu (groups of 10,000 tributaries). The two khipu also represent two different levels of an accounting hierarchy.

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Cite this Record

Identifying Possible Inca Census Records in Khipu from Pachacamac. Dennis Ogburn. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397763)

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andes Inca

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;