April 8, 2017 at the Penn
Museum: Dr.Jeffrey C.
Splitstoser, Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at
George Washington University: "Twisted Records: Wari-style Khipus and What We
Might Know about Them"
The Wari created the first South American empire, ca. 600–1000
CE, and they ran it with an incredible invention: the khipu.
Wari khipus are devices made of wrapped and knotted cords that
were used to store and record information we presume was vital
to administer their state. Like their later, more famous, Inka
counterparts, Wari-style khipus likely carried and conveyed
information using color and knots. Wari khipus differ from Inka
khipus, however, in many respects including their use of
colorful wrapping. This presentation provided an overview of
preliminary findings from a study of all-known Wari-style
Dr. Jeffrey C. Splitstoser is an Assistant Research Professor of
Anthropology at George Washington University. His current field
research is a study of the textiles and khipus at the Wari site
of El Castillo de Huarmey (see the June 2014 issue of National
Geographic Magazine). Splitstoser was the textile specialist for
the Huaca Prieta Archaeological Project, directed by Dr. Tom
Dillehay, where he studied 6,200 year old cotton textiles that
are colored with the world’s earliest known use of indigo.
Splitstoser is the Vice President of the Boundary End
Archaeology Research Center and the editor (with Dr. David
Stuart) of its peer-reviewed journals, Ancient America and the
Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing. He is a research
associate of the Institute of Andean Studies, Berkeley, and a
Cosmos Club scholar. Splitstoser was a Junior Fellow at the
Dumbarton Oaks in 2005 - 2006. He received his Master’s
degree (1999) and Ph.D. (2009) in anthropology from The Catholic
University of America, Washington, D.C. His dissertation is a
study of the Early Paracas textiles from Cerrillos in the Ica
Valley of Peru.
April 8, 2017 Penn Museum: Andean Textile Workshop:
"Inka and Wari Khipu Making"
Dr. Jeffrey C. Splitstoser, Research Professor of Anthropology at
George Washington University, and Dr. Anne Tiballi, Consulting
Scholar at the Penn Museum, offered a workshop on making and
interpreting Inka and Wari Khipu (quipu).
Participants devised a pattern to execute on the wrapped sticks
and make khipu with birthdate or other significant
information on it. The workshop included an introduction to yarn
spin/ply analysis, as yarn qualities are important to the
codification of information in the khipu, and included all
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