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Sat Aug 29, 2015, 08:53 AM

For Inca Road Builders, Extreme Terrain Was No Obstacle

For Inca Road Builders, Extreme Terrain Was No Obstacle

August 29, 2015 6:49 AM ET

Jasmine Garsd.


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The Inca were innovators in agriculture as well as engineering. Terracing like this, on a steep hillside in Peru's Colca Canyon, helped them grow food.

Doug McMains/Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
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One of history's greatest engineering feats is one you rarely hear of. It's the Inca Road, parts of which still exist today across much of South America.

Back in the day — more than 500 years ago — commoners like me wouldn't have been able to walk on the Inca Road, known as Qhapaq ัan in the Quechua language spoken by the Inca, without official permission.

Fortunately, I have Peruvian archaeologist Ramiro Matos by my side. He is the lead curator of an exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian called "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire."

That's "Inka" with a K, as it's spelled in Quechua. And today, we're taking a virtual journey down what was once more than 20,000 miles of road traversing some of the world's most challenging terrain — mountains, forests and deserts.

More:
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/08/29/435480149/for-inca-road-builders-extreme-terrain-was-no-obstacle?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

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