roads connected the vast empire: The
Incas never invented the wheel. But in less than a hundred years, they
built over 14,000 miles of road, much of which was paved. Some sections
of road were over 15 feet wide. Some sections were so steep that the
Incas built stone walls along the edge to prevent people from falling
The Andes are sharp ragged mountains full
of deep gorges.
Suspension Bridges: The Incas built suspension
bridges over the gorges using huge cables made of woven reed. If a
bridge broke, local workers rushed to fix it, so that travel could
continue unimpeded. The Incas built hundreds of bridges. Every other
year, bridges were replaced.
Pontoon Bridges: The Incas made pontoon bridges
from reed boats to cross creeks and some rivers.
Pulley Baskets: In places, they constructed
pulley baskets - to use these, travelers would climb inside a basket
which was then pulled to the other side of an especially deep gorge
or to cross a river.
could use the roads? Common people could
not use the roads. The roads belonged to the government.
No one could travel the roads without special
army used the roads to move quickly and easily to any point in the
Incan Empire. The army could quickly stop rebellions or protect people
from intruders. The army could bring supplies to victims of natural
disasters. Young men ran along the roads carrying messages back to the
capital. Llama trains collected food from the farms and moved it to the
city and to storerooms along the road.
Storehouses stored food, clothing, and
weapons for the military. Some of the storehouses were so huge that they
could hold enough supplies and food for 25,000 men at a time. There were
many storehouses along the roads.
Houses: Rest houses were built every few
miles. Travelers could spend the night, or cook a meal, or feed their
Signs: There were road signs every few
As the Empire expanded, roads were
quickly built to keep the Empire connected. First the engineers would go
in and make sure the roads were properly laid out. Then the workers
arrived. Building roads was one way farmers and common people could pay
their "service tax" or labor tax.
roads were very well built. Many of the
Incan roads are still in use today.