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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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The Inka Road System

An important new archeological book bears the above title (and an alternate spelling of "Inca"). As one reviewer puts it:

"The Imperial Inka road system must rank alongside the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian Pyramids as one of the greatest achievements of any ancient civilization. Yet despite this, relatively little is known about the nature, extent and functioning of this vast communications network."

Some impressive statistics: The Inka Road System runs for more than 23,000 kilometers through Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina. Generally, the roads were 11-25 meters wide. They were greatly superior to anything built in Europe at that time. One reviewer notes that many of the so-called Inka highways had a non-Inkan origin -- and then leaves us hanging. What pre-Inkan civilization built such roads?

(Saunders, Nick; "Monumental Roads," New Scientist, p. 31, June 8, 1985. Also: Lyon, Patricia J.; "Imperial Connection?" Science, 228:1420, 1985.)

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss