Research on the road network
The real pioneering work takes us back to 1978 when the two-year Inca Road Project carried out by the IAR (Institute of Andean Research) took place. This was the first archaeological investigation into the remnants of the Inca roads and was purely based on field exploration. Since the road network, insofar as it is documented, is about 23,000 kilometers long, it was impossible to examine this in its entirety. For this reason, a selection was made of twelve segments each having a length of approximately 150 kilometers.
The selection took into account various factors that are important in choosing the right segments to start a good research.
diversity of ecosystems that determined the course of the roads,
diversity in late prehistoric cultures that each had an influence on the road network as far as it extended within their local borders,
variety in Inca rule that diversified in different ways,
difference and importance of primary and secondary roads and the geographical distribution of the Inca empire.
The aim of this research was to collect comparable data that could give an idea of the construction, construction and ultimate influence of the environment on these roads. This research has achieved groundbreaking results that provide a solid foundation for future research.
Following the Inca Road Project, several archaeological investigations have taken place, each contributing to the reconstruction of the Inca’s road network. One of these studies is that of UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) and has mainly dealt with the origins and development of Cuzco.
The origin of the road network
The city of Cuzco, which later became the political and religious center of the Inca empire, was raised around 1300 on the ruins of a mountain settlement of the older Killke culture in the Valley of Cuzco and can therefore be the cradle of Inca civilization. be called. This small kingdom was founded here for strategic motives. It was surrounded by a partly intact road network that was built by the older Pan-Andes States Huari and Tiahuanaco that had disappeared 500 years earlier.
Myths put in writing by the Spanish alphabet Juan de Betanzos and explorer Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa speculate that the ruins of the Killke were destroyed by order of the then Inca king Pachacuti, but the actual revelation lies in the former archaeological research at Hotel Libertador Palacio del Inca, Cuzco, which has hinted only a tip of the veil: the city of Cuzco may have exposed pre-imperial walls that were probably part of the Killke culture.
To support this hypothesis to the undeniable, further archaeological research is required. However, these data only suggest that Cuzco was built on the remains of the Killke settlement and left several walls intact. But this original little mountain settlement can not be measured in any way by the grand Inca city that would overshadow the small settlement for good in the following period. This means that the city has for the most part been raised by the Inca civilization itself.
Writings of the conquistador and poet Garcilaso de la Vega from the earliest period of the Spanish colonization testify to formidable building plans based on construction drawings, building models and geographically mapped areas. None of these drawings, models or maps have survived the centuries and there is no tangible evidence, but that is hardly to be expected in the Andean climate.
Anyone who sees a map of Cuzco can see that the layout of the city has been developed systematically, with or without high-quality planning tools. Cuzco is located in the heart of the Inca Empire (Cuzco = navel / center in Quechua) and is surrounded by the four major districts of Chinchaysuyu, Collasuyu, Antisuyu and Contisuyu. From the south side of the eastern part of Cuzco’s center square, Haukaypata, four main roads ran to each of these districts.
For a long time it was believed that these were the only access to the city. But archaeological field research by UNESCO in the 1980s has shown that there were still more than twenty smaller roads that connected Cuzco with its districts. All these roads crossed the zone that isolated the city of pure Incan ethnicity from the hinterland where the Andean peoples who were subject to the Incas lived. Cuzco was, as it were, surrounded by a belt of an estimated 105 hectares of cultivated land from which 25 roads sprouted to the farthest corners of the empire. This was the cradle of the Inca civilization.