Oracle FAQ Your Portal to the Oracle Knowledge Grid
 HOME | ASK QUESTION | ADD INFO | SEARCH | E-MAIL US

Home -> Community -> Usenet -> comp.databases.theory -> Re: Inca quipus, writing and binary arthmetic

# Re: Inca quipus, writing and binary arthmetic

From: mensanator <mensanator_at_aol.com>
Date: 23 Jun 2003 12:30:12 -0700

davies_roy99_at_hotmail.com (Roy Davies) wrote in message news:<8df3aa72.0306230510.700c6a3e_at_posting.google.com>...
> An article in today's Independent challenges the commonly held belief
> that the Incas did not have a proper system of writing. It is known
> that they used quipus, a system of knotted strings, for keeping some
> sort of records, but they have been regarded as being either
> compilations of data (e.g. tables of some kind) or mnemonic devices,
> rather than a true system of writing.
>
> However, Gary Urton, a professor of anthropology at Harvard
> University, claims that the quipus contain a seven-bit binary code
> capable of conveying more than 1,500 separate units of information.

What the hell? Seven bits is 128. Oh, I see, you didn't quote it properly:

<quote>
In a strict seven-bit code this would give 128 permutations (two to the power of seven) but Professor Urton said because there were 24 possible colours that could be used in khipu construction, the actual permutations are 1,536 (or two to the power of six, multiplied by 24). </quote>

Of course, it should be 24 multiplied by two to the power of seven.

> The Independent goes on to say that "if Professor Urton is right,

Not likely, since he can't do the math correctly.

> it
> means the Inca not only invented a form of binary code more than 500
> years before the invention of the computer, but they used it as part
> of the only three-dimensional written language."
>
> To try and prove his claims Professor Urton is studying ancient quipus
> and Spanish documents from the same period in the hope of finding a
> key, like the Rosetta stone that will enable him to translate the
> quipus.
>
> Inca may have used knot computer code to bind empire
> http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=418049
>
> The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
> http://www.ex.ac.uk/~RDavies/inca/
>
> Roy Davies
Received on Mon Jun 23 2003 - 14:30:12 CDT

Original text of this message

 HOME | ASK QUESTION | ADD INFO | SEARCH | E-MAIL US