A high degree of energetic investment was put into the ritual purposes of the road. In Inca society, the mountains were objects of worship; the Incas held many rituals, including the sacrifice of children, goods, and llamas, at the tops of mountains.
The only way for the Incas to reach the summits of the mountains for worship was by constructing roads. Many Inca roads went thousands of feet above sea level, such as mount Chani, which had a road that started at the base and went to the summit, which was at a height of nearly six thousand feet. In addition to high altitude shrines, there were also many holy shrines or religious sites, called wak’a, that were a part of the Zeq’e system along and near the roads. These shrines were either natural or modified features of the landscape, as well as buildings, where the Inca would visit for worship.
May be in one of another post we will write more about incas religion…
The Incan calendar had 12 months of 30 days, with each month having its own festival, and a five-day feast at the end, before the new year began. The Incan year started in December, and began with Capac Raymi, the magnificent festival.
||Fasting and Penitence
||Ayrihua or Camay Inca Raymi
||Festival of the Inca
||Aymoray qu or Hatun Cuzqui
||Feast of the Sun and the great festival in honour of the sun for the harvest
||Chahua-huarquiz, Chacra Ricuichi or Chacra Cona
||The Harvest Festival
||Yapaquis, Chacra Ayaqui or Capac Siquis
||Coya Raymi and Citua
||Festival of the Moon
||K’antaray or Uma Raymi
||Month of crop watching
||Festival of the dead
These roads provided easy, reliable and quick routes for the Empire’s civilian and military communications, personnel movement, and logistical support. The prime users were imperial soldiers, porters and llama caravans, along with the nobility and individuals on official duty. Permission was required before others could walk along the roads, and tolls were charged at some bridges.
Qollcas were used by the military and were situated along the roads.
Qollcas were long term storage houses for foods in the event of conflicts or shortages in the Inca Empire. The qollcas were constructed with volcanic rock. The bases were around or a little over 30 feet and almost 10 feet high. They were used primarily for the storage of grains and maize. These were food items had an extremely long expiration date which made them ideal for long term storage for the military
To give an example of the degree to which Incas stored supplies, one facility at Huanuco Pampa totaled as much as 37,100 cubic meters and could support a population of between twelve and fifteen thousand people.
The Inca army was divided in the following manner:
||Number of soldiers
under their command
|Awqaq Runa (Aucac Runa)
|Pukara Kamayuq (Púcara Camayuk)
|Qipa Kamayuq (Quipa Camayuk)
|Ch’uru Kamayuq (Choru Camayuk)
|Wankar Kamayuq (Huancar Camayuk)
|Unancha Yanaq (Unanchayanac)
|Chunka Kamayuq (Chunga Kamayuk)
|Pichqa Chunka Kamayuq (Piccka Chunka Kamayuk)
|Pachak Kamayuq (Pachac Kamayuk)
|Waranqa Kamayuq (Guaranga Kamayuk)
|Apu Rantin (Apu Randin)
|Hatun Apu Rantin (Hatun Apu Randin)
|Apuskin Rantin (Apusquin Rantin)
||The whole field army
The largest units in the Inca army were composed of 10,000 men, under the command of a Major General or Apusquin Rantin. This was generally a nobleman from Cuzco who would have been a veteran of several campaigns. The head of the field army was the Apusquispay, he would have been a noble chosen by the Inca and he would have shown himself to have been in good physical and mental condition at the Huarachico trials. In order to give orders the generals used conche blowers, trumpeters or drummers to communicate with their lieutenants.
The Inca did not use the road network only for travelers through the empire, the road system also provided many religious and military purposes for the Inca culture.
The Inca used the chasqui (runners) and llamas and alpacas for the transportation on the roads.
The chasqui were able to run 240 km (150 mi) per day. They were in charge of delivering everything much like the Pony Express of the 1860s in North America.
Alpacas and llamas are lightweight animals. They cannot carry much, but they are incredibly quik. When transporting big values of goods across the country it was more productive for the Incas to use flocks of llamas or alpacas and have two or three herders. The herdsmen would herd the animals up the raised mountain trails without having to risk peoples’ lives and while still being estimate to carry larger amounts of tnings.
All resources in the Incas country were the ownership of the ruling elite, the Inca. The delivery of these goods was known as vertical archipelago. This system for trade was throughout the Inca empire. Distinctive regions of the country had distinctive resources. The roads were helped to send out the resources to other divisions of the empire that were in need of them. This is one of the senses the Inca empire was so influential. They not only had a multitude of resources, but a set system to make sure all parts of the empire were able to obtain all the resources.
(to be continued)
Camino Inca (the Spanish name of the Inca road system) in pre-Columbian South America was the most advanced and extensive transportation system. The routes and trails ran in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
It was about 24,800 miles long or more than 30, 000 km! And now it is still in good condition after over 500 years of use.
Much of the system was the result of the Incas claiming exclusive right over numerous traditional routes, some of which had been paved centuries earlier mostly by the Wari Empire (culture that precede the Inca Empire).
The network was based on two north-south roads with numerous branches.
The most important Inca road was the Camino Real (Royal Road), as it is known in Spanish, with a length of 5,200 kilometres (3,200 mi). It began in Quito, Ecuador, passed through Cusco, and ended in what is now Tucumán, Argentina.
The true extent of the road network is not completely known, since the Spaniards, post conquest, either dug up the road completely in some areas, or allowed it to deteriorate and fall into ruin under iron-clad horses’ hooves, or the metal wheels of ox-carts.
Today, only 25 % of this network is still visible, the rest having been destroyed by the construction of modern infrastructure. Different organizations such as UNESCO and IUCN have been working to protect the network in collaboration with the governments and communities of the 6 countries through which the Great Inca Road passes.