There was a road hierarchy with two important
categories: the first category formed by the Inkañan (Inka Road) or
royal roads that were, for example, the ones that united Qosqo and
the four "Suyos", roads known as Qhapaq Ñan: principal or rich road.
In this same category were the Hatun Ñan: big or broad road; they
constituted the primary road network that had between 10 to 25
thousand Kms. (6200 to 15500 miles), with a width from 4 to 8 meters
(13 to 26 ft). The second category was formed by the Runañan
(peoples' road) or roads for common people; they served for
communications between villages and districts. The road system went
over the Tawantinsuyo longitudinal and transversely; all together it
reached some 40,000 Kms. (some 25000 miles). This system was
constantly supervised by officials following different hierarchies
as the Qhapaq Ñan Tukuyrikuq, the Hatun Ñan Qamayoq or simply the
Something very impressive were also the Bridges
(Chaka) under the charge of the Chaka Qamayoq. Bridges that had to
serve crossing rivers and had to be adapted to the site's
topography, distance and materials availability. According to their
construction procedure bridges can be grouped in:
a: Trunks and Logs
Bridges. They were a favorite type when bridges were small.
b: Stone Bridges.
Formed by slabs and they existed of two sorts: those of just one
window, and those that presented many windows or spaces to let water
c: Huaros, Uruyas or
Oroyas, Tarabitas (in Ecuador). They were something like cable cars
consisting in a very thick hemp rope woven in "chawar" fibers. The
hemp rope was tied to thick trees or boulders, by which an osier
basket having a thick wooden handle and transporting persons and
goods was slid with the help of some other ropes.
Bridges. Constructed with thick hemp ropes and cords braided with
"Ichu" the local wild bunch grass or fibers of "Pakpa" or Century
Plants (Agave americana). Sometimes they were reinforced with
leathers of South-American cameloids and tied to stone supports in
both banks of the river forming a narrow but strong passage. The
bridges of this type were known as " Simp'achaka" or "braided
bridge". Today, the most eloquent example of this sort of bridge is
that found in Qheswachaka over the Apurimac River.
e: Floating Bridges.
Used to cross calm or detained waters and made with different
vegetal fibers. It is famous the bridge of this sort that existed in
Inkan times over the Desaguadero River (Titicaca Lake) made with
braided totora reeds that seemed to be a platform over which a large
amount of reeds were sewn to the hemp ropes.
A complete system of different services was found
over the vast Inkan road network. It was planned in order to allow
integration, safety, supplies and relaxation. A part of this system
were the Chaski, something like a post crew formed by athletic young
relay runners prepared to cover quickly the distance between two
Chaskiwasi (chaski's house) that had an average of 2.5 Kms. (1.55
miles). Their aim was to carry messages that could be oral or goods
with ideo-graphic meanings such as the Qhipu (Inkan accounting
system consisting in multicolored knotted strings), textiles with
Tokapus (different symbols framed by squares), some other elements
engraved or painted, etc. Moreover, the Chaskis had to carry some
other important objects for the Inka and certain noblemen: it is
traditionally known that the Inka in Qosqo used to eat fresh fish
brought from the coast through this system. This service was
uninterrupted all day long, besides being sufficiently quick. These
young runners transmitting or passing messages could go over from 15
to 20 kms/hour (from 9.5 to 12.5 miles/h), thence from 360 to 480
Kms. per day (from 224 to 298 miles per day).
Another element found on the roads involving
services were the Tanpu or Tambo in its Spanish form. They were
important villages, economic axles having huge lodges with capacity
to serve opportune and efficiently even dozens of thousands of
people, with enormous storehouses containing, food, clothing,
weapons and tools. They had an economic and social rule, and public
officials under direct control of Qosqo. They possessed all the
facilities that were found in the cities too, such as communication
posts, temples, astral observatories, etc., and occupied strategic
spots in order to offer timely comfort for the traveling masses.
They were normally located between distances of one walking day,
that is, between 40 to 50 kms. (25 to 31 miles).
It is obvious that there were different Tambo
categories; the less important ones offering only lodge were found
every half walking day, between 20 to 25 kms. (12.5 to 15.5 miles).
Departing from Qosqo through the 7 most important roads (after a
half walking day) following the sense of the clock hands were
(clockwise and beginning on the north) Pisaq, Quispikanchi or
Pikillaqta, Yaurisque, Wanoquite, Jakijawana or Zurite, Chinchero
and Calca; after one walking day following the same direction were
more important Tambos such as Paucartambo, Urkostambo, Pakariqtambo,
Tambobamba, Limatambo, Ollantaytambo and Amparaes.