Saturday, June 3

“Many Spaniards saw the Incas as illiterate because the quipus did not coincide with what they understood as writing”

  • Carol Olona
  • HayFestivalArequipa @ BBCMundo

Image of Manuel Medrano investigating quipus.

“The Andes were the cradle of one of the most sophisticated and complex technologies in human history,” says Medrano.

It was in a residence for students at Harvard University when the mathematician Manuel Medrano (Los Angeles, 1996) had his “Rosetta moment” at just 19 years old.

It is how the academic defines the small discoveries, which when accumulated, allow us to advance in the world of knowledge.

In the same way that Jean-Francois Champollion he managed to decipher the meaning of the hieroglyphs in 1822 in part thanks to all the research that preceded him.

Image source, © The Trustees of the British Museum


Deciphering the cartridges of the Rosetta stone was vital to understanding the meaning of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

In his case, Medrano had found a correspondence of non-numerical information between 6 ancient quipus (“knot” in Quechua) and a 17th century Spanish census document that had previously been identified as possible paired sources.

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