In 2008 a letter was excavated during an archaeological dig
of a Peruvian colonial town abandoned for unknown reasons around the turn of the 18th Century. On the back of that letter were recorded several numbers and their names in a dead tongue, lost in the upheaval following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Even though this may be the only remnant of an entire language, there is quite a bit that linguists can glean from these fragments. For a brief overview of the findings of research by a joint American-Peruvian research group, read here
. And here is the full journal article
, which places these numbers in their historical and linguistic context.
posted by Kattullus
on Sep 25, 2011 -
is a collection of many ancient, medieval and classic texts from all over the world, many of whom are hard to find anywhere, let alone on the internet. There are translations from Greek
, Old Norse
, Medieval Irish
, Old French
, Medieval Latin
and many more! As well as all that they have papers in medieval studies
and vaguely decadent
series. Adding to that there's a linguistics section
with wordlists and language flash cards in languages such as Icelandic
, Classical Armenian
and a whole bunch more. [flashcard links go to pdf files]
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 10, 2008 -
The Guaman Poma Website.
Felipe Guaman Poma's El primer nueva coronica y buen gobierno
(New Chronicle and Good Government
) is one of the most remarkable manuscripts of the seventeenth century. Written by a native Peruvian, in the form of a 1200-page 'letter' to King Philip III of Spain, it provides a richly detailed account of Inca society before and after the Spanish conquest. Forgotten for three centuries, it was rediscovered in 1908 in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, which has now published a full digital facsimile online. The illustrations
are extraordinary: glimpses of the abuse of colonial power ('Recite the doctrine, Indian troublemaker! Right now!'
) alongside gentler scenes of agriculture and everyday life ('Chew this coca, sister'
). Scholarly articles
help to set the manuscript in context. Browse and enjoy.
posted by verstegan
on Aug 2, 2005 -
String and Knot, Theory of Inca Writing
An article today in the NY Times (you know the drill, I think it's metafi/metafi, no?) regarding a new theory to do with the decoding of the "cryptic knotted strings known as khipu".
If khipu is indeed the medium of a writing system, Dr. Gary Urton of Harvard says, this is entirely different from any of the known ancient scripts, beginning with the cuneiform of Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. The khipu did not record information in graphic signs for words, but rather a kind of three-dimensional binary code similar to the language of today's computers.
Dr. Urton, an anthropologist and a MacArthur fellow, suggests that the Inca manipulated strings and knots to convey certain meanings. By an accumulation of binary choices, khipu makers encoded and stored information in a shared system of record keeping that could be read throughout the Inca domain.
More information about Urton's book, which is to be published this month, here
; more information about the Khipu themselves and further linkage here
(note: this link is to an angelfire page, popups and limited bandwidth are to be expected). From Cornell, detailed descriptions
of 200 Khipu, with photographs.
posted by jokeefe
on Aug 11, 2003 -