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The Inca people used them for collecting data and keeping records

Incan Quipu 

A quipu usually consisted of cotton or camelid fiber strings. The Inca people used them for collecting data and keeping records, monitoring tax obligations, collecting census records, calendrical information, and for military organization.

@1400 CE

quipu (khipu) was a method used by the Incas and other ancient Andean cultures to keep records and communicate information using string and knots. In the absence of an alphabetic writing system, this simple and highly portable device achieved a surprising degree of precision and flexibility. Quipu could record dates, statistics, accounts, and even abstract ideas. Quipu are still used today across South America.

Quipu use a wide variety of colours, strings, and sometimes several hundred knots all tied in various ways at various heights. These combinations can even represent, in abstract form, key episodes from traditional folk stories and poetry. In recent years scholars have also challenged the traditional view that quipu were merely a memory aid device and go so far as to suggest that quipu may have been progressing towards narrative records and so becoming a viable alternative to written language just when the Inca Empire collapsed.

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How far back?

Point in Timeline | Post 500 CE 85%

2020 | Present