Posts Tagged ‘Inca’

Tax Math, Inca Style

April 6, 2008

Still working on those 1040 tax forms? One thing to think about as you read and read and reread the instructions is how the whole process would be different if there was no written language. It’s probably up for debate whether that would make it easier or harder.

The Incas, whose empire in South America began around 1200 and was strongest from about 1450 to 1532, didn’t have a written language that we are aware of, but they did a great job of keeping track of things. To do so, they used quipu (or khipu), which were knotted strings. Different knots and string colors indicated different amounts and types of items.

This picture below shows a quipu representing crop yield for several plants over three different years. Click below to see photos of quipu and learn about the connection with taxes!