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In the Andes of South America they led to Cuzco. These were linked by east—west roads joining the coast and the mountains like rungs of a ladder, with extensions farther east toward the Amazon basin.
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Suyo means direction, district, province, or region, and the roads went north to Chinchaysuyo, today northern Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia; south to Collasuyo, now Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile; east to Antisuyo, eastern Peru, and parts of Bolivia; and west to Contisuyo, by Arequipa and the Peruvian coast.
Off the Collasuyo road, a branch went southeast to Omasuyo, around Lake Titicaca. The impressive extent of the road network was rivaled only by the quality and audacity of its construction. Climbing to m above sea level, roads usually ranged from 3 to 10 m in width, but reached an amazing 30 m in some places. Many had smooth cobbled surfaces, while steeper portions climbed to passes and summits on immense stone stairways.
On many sheer slopes the roads were supported by retaining walls. In wet areas they were drained by culverts and carried over swamps on raised causeways. In populated areas, roads were lined by adobe walls to prevent travelers, and the llamas used as pack animals, from invading neighboring homes and fields. These ranged from simple low wood and stone bridges to spectacular suspension bridges built of rope cables supported by massive stone columns. In a few places travelers crossed rivers on ferries or in oroyas, baskets hung from ropes, a sort of ancient cable car.
Forgotten Vilcabamba: Final Stronghold of the Incas
It was as much a monumental work, like the pyramids of Egypt, as a purely utilitarian one. The Great Road was the umbilical cord that emanated from Cuzco, navel of the universe, carrying wealth to the capital of Tawantinsuyo as well as imprinting its sovereignty on the landscape of distant dominions.
These were entire communities subjugated by the Inca Empire and sent as a group to live thousands of miles from their original homes. This effectively quelled rebellion among newly conquered peoples and distributed a diversity of skills and crafts throughout the empire. This meant news could travel from Cuzco to Quito today Ecuador, then the northern capital of Tawantinsuyo in about a week, and seafood could be brought from the ocean to the royal table in Cuzco in less than two days.
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The Great Road was lined by various facilities for travelers. Following the Spanish conquest, many parts of the road fell into disrepair because of the collapse of this system and also because of the introduction of horses.
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The Incas had not invented the wheel, largely unnecessary in their geographic environment, nor did they have horses or donkeys. The segments of ancient road that best survived the colonial period were those that were too steep for travel by horse and were therefore not damaged by iron-shod hooves. Sadly, some of the surviving roads later fell victim to contemporary road construction.
The Inca roads were so well built that, over five hundred years after they had been abandoned, engineers continued to use them as foundations for paved streets and roads. Fortunately many sections still survive intact, some over km long. Except for the small fragment of Inca road that today carries five hundred visitors a day to Machu Picchu, they are seldom visited by outsiders.
Perhaps responsible trekking can play its part in protecting the road by raising awareness of its importance and by bringing sustainable economic benefits to the remote communities through which it passes. Segments of Inca and pre-Inca roads are included in Treks 2, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28, and They are likely included in others as well, albeit without our knowledge. Who really understands the origins of all the winding paths along which we travel? Known as Tawantinsuyu, the Inca state spanned the distance of northern Ecuador to central Chile and consisted of A career army officer, he led the military coup overthrowing the Allende government in , establishing himself at the head of the ensuing military regime.
In he enacted a constitution giving In , while leading an expedition in search of gold, he sighted Che Guevara was a prominent communist figure in the Cuban Revolution —59 who went on to become a guerrilla leader in South America. Executed by the Bolivian army in , he has since been regarded as a martyred hero by generations of leftists worldwide.
Final Stronghold of the Incas
The history of chocolate can be traced to the ancient Mayans, and even earlier to the ancient Olmecs of southern Mexico. The word chocolate may conjure up images of sweet candy bars and luscious truffles, but the chocolate of today is little like the chocolate of the past. Constructed around A. Thousands of Nazi officers, high-ranking party members and collaborators—including many notorious war criminals—escaped across the Atlantic, This Day In History. Machu Picchu.
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