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An Integrated Science of Strings, Colors, Knots and Numbers in the Ancient Andes
Thursday, June 7, 2007 - 6:15pm to Thursday, June 7, 2007 - 7:45pm
An Integrated Science of Strings, Colors, Knots and Numbers in the Ancient Andes, Gary Urton, professor, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

The talk will focus on the knotted-string device known as the Quipu (knot), which was used for record-keeping in the Inka empire of Pre-Columbian South America. The Inka version of this device descended from an earlier form of record-keeping based on colorfully wrapped cords. Urton will explore the relationship between colors and numbers in the quipu as well as examine the forms and level of arithmetic and mathematical complexity attained by the cord-keepers of the Inka empire.

Moderators for the lecture include Portland State's Ramin Farahmandpur, Graduate School of Education; Michael Flower, University Honors; Ron Narode, Graduate School of Education; Steve Reder, Applied Linguistics; and Tom Thornton, Anthropology. For more information on Gary Urton visit

This seminar series continues to explore ways in which mathematics permeates people's lives in cultural contexts throughout the world, taking an alternative approach to the age-old question from students: Why does math matter?

All lectures are free and open to the public. The seminars take place in Neuberger Hall, room 454 (724 SW Harrison). For more information or to inquire about course credit, contact Swapna Mukhopadhyay at 503-725-8495 or