Gary Urton is the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard University. He was previously Professor of Anthropology at Colgate University from 1978 to 2002. He received his B.A. from the University of New Mexico in 1969, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1971 and 1979, respectively. He is married to artist and anthropologist Julia Meyerson, whom he acknowledges in many of his books, and has a son.
Urton is a specialist in Andean archaeology, particularly the quipu (khipu) numerical recording system used in the Inca empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. Along with anthropologist Sabine Hyland, he is one of the most prominent advocates of the theory that the quipus encode linguistic as well as numerical information. From 2001 to 2005 he was a MacArthur Fellow.
His teaching Specialties include South America – the Andes, Amazonia; Native people and cultures of North and South America; topics: social/cultural anthropology, anthropology and history, primitive art, state formation.