This is a commission research project invited by Maria Jose Rios, the project founder of I_c Project. The goal is to explore the link between the ancient constellation knowledge of the Incas and the contemporary astronomy and to develop a data visualization logic to visualize this link. This project will collaborate with data provided by ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) and is funded by Fondart Regional. A paper of this project and a data visualization installation will be published on ALMA website in March 2022.
The first videos I looked into was the talk given by Gary Urton, he introduced the cosmological relations between the Inca architecture and the sky, and the documental device "Khipu" or "Quipu" that was used in the Inca civilization. The Inca people believe that the milky way is a giant river in the sky and is connected with the river on earth, therefore they build their temple, in particular example, the capital of Inca, Cusco, according to the astronomy datas. Few memos are made here according to the talks given by Gary Urton: "In Indigenous worldviews — where humanity, nature, and the spiritual realm are closely connected — the night sky provides spiritual and navigational guidance, timekeeping, weather prediction, and stories and legends that tell us how to live a proper life. Cultural astronomy, also referred to as archaeoastronomy or ethnoastronomy, explores the distinctive ways that astronomy is culturally embedded in the practices and traditions of various peoples".
The milky way looks different in Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hermisphere, because the location of the earth in the galaxy. Also its because the axis of the Milky Way does not coincide with the axis of rotation of the earth.
"The Milky Way in the region between Cygnus and Crux, as viewed from Cusco in 1400 BC. The dark cloud constellations identified by Urton in this region have been sketched as an help to the eye. The huge region “between two rivers” which is comprised in the band connecting Scutum and Cygnus is indicated by arrows."
Quipus or khipus are a recording medium developed by the Inca and their predecessors (our earliest examples date back to about 900 AD; many details of their use were unfortunately obliterated during and after the Conquest, in the early 16th century; there are about 600 quipus Urton known to exist today, mostly in museums). Signs in this medium are knots in strings. Urton think it is a very important device helps the administration work heavily in the Inca time.
- The Quechua word “khipu” means knot.
- The pre-Columbian khipus were made of camelid hair or cotton fiber.
- The Incas used three types of knots: single, long and figure-eight.
- The colors of the khipu cords have different meanings.
- The distance between the knots also has a meaning and conveys a message.
- A cord without knots represents the number zero.
- Of all the known khipus, 85% convey numerical values and the remaining 15% are believed to tell stories.
Photo of UR166, first described by Leland Locke in 1926 - Now located in the American Museum of Natural History in New York:
In a canonical numerical quipu, such as Locke's example shown above, each pendent (or subsidiary) displays a number: a positive integer, expressed in decimal notation, as follows:
- units appear lowest on the cord. 1 is represented by a figure-eight knot, 2-9 by the corresponding long knot.
- tens appear one level higher. 10 is represented by a single overhand knot on that level, 20 by a cluster of two overhand knots, up to 90: a row of nine closely spaced overhand knots.
- hundreds appear one level above the tens, and are similarly represented: 100: a single overhand knot, up to 900: a row of nine overhand knots.
- similarly for higher powers of ten. The Khipu Database website, based at Harvard, shows an example, also from the AMNH but presumably acquired after Locke's study, where six positions are used.
- A zero in any place correspond
We know (or can infer) that some khipus are census accounts, some have to do with calendars, some to record labor tribute taxes, etc. What does the current research indicate?
Based on her readings from Spanish chronicles, Magdalena Setlak, lists these khipu categories:
- Historical khipus, which contained Inca myths and history, the genealogy of their rulers and the songs that commemorated them.
- Religious khipus, in whose strings huacas sacred sites, sacrifices and offerings were recorded.
- Calendrical and ceque khipus, recording religious cycles and the social organization of Cuzco, as well as agricultural cycles.
- Judicial khipus, among which we have identified three types of records: codes, files, and testaments.
- Local khipu-registers, containing detailed records of all the inhabitants of each community and district.
- Khipu-censuses, central records maintained by state authorities.
- Khipu-corvee, in which all the services provided as mita or corvee were recorded.
- Tax-khipus, used to record tax obligations and compliance, and which in many cases were combined with khipu-corvee.
- Khipu-accounts, containing all accounting records except those that recorded tribute and mita, such as, for example, the stocks held in storehouses and way stations, and what had been distributed.
- Khipu-maps, composed of place names or the names of ethnic groups, and reflecting, in some cases, Inca conquests during their military campaigns.
- Khipu-letters, the content of which we do not know, although certain references in the chronicles point to their existence.
Extracting list datas from the FITS file, SAOimageDS9 is used here to read the FITS data, below are the steps on how to extract the list in DS9:
- On the astronomical content of the sacred landscape of Cusco in Inka times.
- List of dark nebulae
- Astronomy Picture of the Day Index - Nebulae: Dark Nebulae
- The Knots in the Quipu, and in the Friar's Belt
- The Khipu Field Guide