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January 31, 2004

Yupana

Numerous attempts have been made to have understand Inca "quipu" recording system. Geometrical "yupana" boards have remained yet more mysterious. It is now argued these functioned like an abacus making calculations in base 40. Ingenious!

Different in size and shape, the yupana had been often interpreted as a stylized fortress model. Some scholars also interpreted it as a counting board, but how the abacus would have worked remained a mystery.

"It took me about 40 minutes to solve the riddle. I am not an expert on pre-Columbian civilizations. I simply decoded a 16th century drawing from a book on mathematical enigmas I received as a Christmas present," engineer Nicolino De Pasquale said. The drawing was found in a 1,179 page letter by the Peruvian Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala to the King of Spain. A simple array of cells consisting of five rows and four columns, the drawing showed one circle in the right cell on the bottom row, two circles in the next cell, three circles in the other one and five circles in the last cell of the row. The same pattern applied to the above rows. According to De Pasquale, the circles in the cells are nothing but the first numbers of the Fibonacci series, in which each number is a sum of two previous: 1, 2, 3, 5.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at January 31, 2004 01:04 PM

Comments

It's very interesting. It's necessary verify this hypothesis with other cultural forms and expressions of Incas because theirs are in decimal base. (Excuse me for my english, I speak Spanish).

Posted by: Clara Lucia Higuera at March 9, 2004 06:41 PM

thanx 4 the help! i needed it for my research project on the incas.

Posted by: tara gainer at April 29, 2004 11:05 PM