Bard Graduate Center is pleased to announce that its inaugural Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Book Prize—for the best book on the decorative arts, design history, or material culture of the Americas published in 2017— has been awarded to Inka History in Knots: Reading Khipus as Primary Sources by Gary Urton (University of Texas Press). The prize rewards scholarly excellence and commitment to cross disciplinary conversation.

“This book demonstrates an amazing amount of work that is slow, careful, and completely revolutionary,” said Dean Peter N. Miller. “Urton takes on the monstrous task of figuring out how khipus work and then ‘reads’ them for historical and cultural information about the Inka Empire. It is like figuring out hieroglyphics without a Rosetta Stone. Urton contends that it is because of our conception of history that we take khipus not to be historical objects. He then turns this around by using the khipus to get us to think again about what ‘our’ notion of history is, thus using the khipus as one kind of history to help articulate a much broader sense of historiographical possibility. A pure triumph!”

Chosen by an interdisciplinary committee of Bard Graduate Center faculty, the author will be honored with a symposium on the subject of the book in spring 2019. Professor Urton, the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, is the author of numerous books and edited volumes on Andean/Quechua cultures and Inka civilization, including Signs of the Inka Khipu: Binary Coding in the Andean Knotted-String Records. He is a recipient of both MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships.

Information on the 2018 Horowitz Book Prize will be announced in fall 2018.