Chair of the Department of Anthropology
Archaeology Program Director - Fall 2017
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), and Signs of the Inka Khipu (2003). 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 at work analyzing a collection of khipus recently excavated at an Inka storage facility at the site of Inkawasi, on the south coast of Peru.
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