Inca rope bridges

From Academic Kids

Rope bridges acted as suspension bridges over canyons and gorges to provide access for the Inca Empire. Bridges were available to use since the Inca people had yet to discover the wheel. These bridges were an intricate part on the Inca road system and are an excellent example of Inca innovation in engineering. They were frequently used by Chasqui runners delivering messages throughout the Inca Empire.

The construction of these bridges amounted to a pair of stone anchors on each side of the canyon with massive cables of woven ichu grass linking these two pylons together. Adding to this construction, two additional cables acted as guardrails. The cables which supported the foot-path were reinforced with plaited branches. This multi-structure system made these bridges strong enough to even carry the Spaniards while riding horses after they arrived. However, these massive bridges were so heavy that they tended to sag in the middle, and this caused them to sway in high winds.

Part of the bridge's strong strength and reliability came from the fact that each cable was replaced every year by local villagers as part of their mita public service or obligation. In some instances, these local peasants had the sole task of maintain and repair these bridges so that the Inca highways or road systems could continue to function.

The greatest bridges of this kind resided in the Apurimac Canyon along the main road north from Cuzco. These bridges spread in length across the 220 feet (67 m) canyon and are 118 feet (36 m) above the river.

Overall, these bridges allowed Inca chasqui runners to take more direct routes through the region's mountains and this helped to complete the Inca highway system.

External links

See also

References

  • Incas: Lords of Gold and Glory, 1992, Virginia: Time-Life Books.
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