Gary Urton

Gary Urton

Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, Emeritus

Research and Teaching Interests: South American archaeology, ethnohistory and ethnology; ancient accounting and record keeping; materiality and identity; state formation; Inka civilization; Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil.


Gary Urton is Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard. He earned his M.A. in Ancient History and his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. His research focuses on a variety of topics in pre-Columbian and early colonial Andean cultural and intellectual history, drawing on materials and methods in archaeology, ethnohistory, and ethnology. He is the author of many articles and of numerous books and edited volumes on Andean/Quechua cultures and Inka civilization. His books include: At the Crossroads of the Earth and the Sky (1981), The History of a Myth (1990), The Social Life of Numbers (1997), Inca Myths (1999), Signs of the Inka Khipu (2003), and Inka History in Knots: Reading Khipus as Primary Sources (2017). A former MacArthur Fellow (2001-2005) recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014-15, Urton is the Founder/Director of the Harvard Khipu Database Project, which seeks to decode the Inka recording device, the khipu (or quipu). He is currently collaborating with Brazilian archaeologists on the study of settlement patterns in the Amazon Basin.

Contact Information

Peabody Museum 557A
21 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: (617) 496-8534

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