** native American civilizations -- Inca transport and communications clothing

The Inca: Transport and Communication

Figure 1.-- This photograph was taken in Cusco probbly in the 1920s or30s. Afarm family is brining produce into the market to sell. Except for some of the clothing, this pgotigraph could have beeb tkn in the 15th century before the arrivl of the Spanish. and even some of the clothing is Inca styles. There are two notable aspects of this image. First is the fine stone workmanship in the wall behind them. Notice how esquitely the stones are worked to be almost identical and fit torgether so perfectly. And this without metal tools. Inca stone work was so fine that they did not use mortar. The building was probably the residence of Incan nobels. Second is the rather small loads that llamas were cable of carrying.

One of the interesting historical questions is why Pre-Colombian Native American civilization lagged behind Old World civilizations. One reaon we believe was transport and communication. The terrain made both much more difficult and thus costly. This placed greater burdens on economic and cultural exchanges. The terraine of the Inca Empire was formidable. [Ciezo de Leon] The Inca road system extending over high, rugged mountains and falling into deep cut valleys. There were was ice and snow, marshy quagmires, fast flowing turbulent mountain streams and much more to span. The roads were not wide. Only enough for a man and llama to transit. A major limitation is that the Inca did not have a powerful pack animal or the wheel. This severely limited what could be transported and the cost of transportation. They used llamas, but these animals could carry only small loads. Communication was also a problem. The Incas used the 'chasqui' young male runners. The runners ran short distances between rest ares nd huts. Thus they could run very fast before passing the message or package on to the next runner. This chain would be continued for hundreds of miles. Their training began as boys, including how to recall and deliver messages precisely. Quipus could convey more detailed information. The Inca roads as impressive as they were, only partially sloved the transport and communication problem. They were nothing like the Silk Road that connected Asia and Europe. While Inca roads connected the Empire, there was no organized system for acquiring unfirmation beyond the Empire. Thus Atahaupa had no knowkedge of even major events such as Spanish conquests in Mexico or even in northern South America. and this despite the Spanish landed and began military operations in the Americas four decades earlier. The Incan communications system reported Pizarro's Conquistadores when they landed within the Empire, but nothing onnwht happened beyond the Empire.


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Created: 11:50 PM 11/14/2015
Last updated: 11:50 PM 11/14/2015