Inca rope bridge
type_name = Inca rope bridge
image_title = Newly reconstructed, the last of its kind
sibling_names = None
Simple suspension bridge
span_range = Short
Grassor other fiber rope, appropriate decking material
movable = No
design = Low
falsework = No
Inca rope bridges were
simple suspension bridges over canyons and gorges ("pongos") to provide access for the Inca Empire. Bridges of this type were suitable for use since the Inca people did not use wheeled transport - traffic was limited to pedestrians and livestock. These bridges were an intrinsic part on the Inca road systemand are an excellent example of Inca innovationFact|date=February 2008 in engineering. They were frequently used by Chasquirunners delivering messages throughout the Inca EmpireFact|date=March 2007.
The construction of these bridges amounted to a pair of stone anchors on each side of the canyon with massive cables of woven
ichu grasslinking 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 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 maintaining and repairing these bridges so that the Inca highways or road systems could continue to function.
The greatest bridges of this kind resided in the
Apurimac Canyonalong 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.
Renewing the last bridge
After a full year of use the last Inca grass-rope bridge sags and must be replaced for safety. Even though there is a modern bridge nearby, the folk in the region keep the ancient tradition and skills alive by renewing the bridge. Several family groups have each prepared a number of grass-ropes to be formed into cables at the site, others have prepared mats for decking, and the reconstruction is a communal effort. In ancient times the effort would have been a form of tax, with participants coerced to perform the rebuilding; nowadays the builders have indicated that effort is performed to honor their ancestors and the Pachamama (Earth Mother). The event has also been supported by video productions for Nova and the
BBCand is becoming a minor tourist attraction, with some small tolls charged for tourists to use the road during the festival to walk the newly completed bridge. There is, however, no consistent or guaranteed support for these efforts and tourism remains a relatively minor motivation for the bridge rebuildingFact|date=March 2007.
The old bridge sags
Notice how much less the new bridge sags
Builders gather during the renewal
Preparing side lashings
Main cable and hand-ropes are in place
Lashing the hand-ropes to the main side cables.
Trimmed mat rolls form the bridge deck.
The new bridge is now complete and in use.
Bridge in use during the rainy season.
Simple suspension bridge- the Inca rope bridge built with modern materials and structural refinements
Suspension bridge- modern suspended-deck type
Inca Bridge- rope bridge, secret entrance to Machu Picchu
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge- a rope suspension bridge in Northern Ireland
; Sources consulted
* Chmielinski, Piotr (1987). "Kayaking the Amazon". National Geographic Magazine, v. 171, n. 4, p. 460-473.
* Finch, Ric (2002). "Keshwa Chaca: Straw Bridge of the Incas". Ithaca, N.Y.: South American Explorer, n. 69, fall/winter 2002, p. 6-13. – Copies of this issue may still be available for purchase from the South American Explorer.
* Gade, D. W. (1972). "Bridge types in the central Andes". Annals of the Association of American Geographers, v. 62 (1), p. 94-109. – Showed the bridge at Huinchiri and predicted the art of building it would be lost within another generation, which proved untrue.
* Hurtado, Ursula (pub. date unknown). "Q'eshwachaka: El Puente Dorado". Credibank (magazine published by Credibank in Peru), p. 22-23. – Describes the documentary film directed by Jorge Carmona.
* Malaga Miglio, Patricia, and Gutierrez, Alberto (pub. date unknown). "Qishwachaca". Rumbos (magazine published in Peru), p. 30-34.
* McIntyre, Loren (1973). "The Lost Empire of the Incas". National Geographic Magazine, v. 144, n. 6, p. 729-787.
* McIntyre, Loren (1975). "The Incredible Incas and Their Timeless Land". Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 199 p.
* Nova (1995). "Secrets of Lost Empires: Inca" (1995). PBS TV program, available on video.
* Roca Basadre, David, and Coaguila, Jorge, eds. (2001). "Cañon delApurimac, La Ruta Sagrada del Dios Hablador". Lima: Empresa Editora ElComercio, 78 p.
* Squier, Ephraim George (1877). "Peru: Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas". New York: Harper Bros., 577 p.
* Time-Life Books (1992). "Incas: Lords of Gold and Glory". Lost civilizations. Alexandria, Va:
* Von Hagen, Victor (1955). "Highway of the Sun". New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 120 p.
* Wilder, Thornton (1927). "
The Bridge of San Luis Rey". Grosset & Dunlap, Pubs., 235 p. – Fictional account of the fall of a rope bridge with loss of life.
* [http://www.rutahsa.com/k-chaca.html The Last Inca Suspension Bridge: A Photo Album] (various images of Inca Bridges and pathways, old and new.)
* [http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archive/2003/03-21/bridge.html Boston University, Inca Bridge to the past]
* [http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=3839 Library of Congress lecture on Inca bridges]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Rope bridge — A bridge constructed chiefly of rope. In its simplest form, it can be one or two ropes that bridge a river, enabling the traveller to be supported in their crossing and not be swept away. One rope above another, for feet and hands, may be… … Wikipedia
Inca Bridge — The Inca Bridge or Inka Bridge seems to be the name or nickname of two places related to accesses of Machu Picchu, in Peru.One of the two was built by the Incas as a secret entrance to Machu Picchu for the Inca army.Cite web author = PeruPeruPeru … Wikipedia
Inca society — The society of the Inca Empire centered in what is now Peru, from AD 1438 to AD 1533. Over that period, the Inca used conquest and peaceful assimilation to incorporate in their empire a large portion of western South America, centered on the… … Wikipedia
Inca road system — Among the many roads and trails constructed in pre Columbian South America, the Inca road system, or Qhapaq Ñan [The Incas. by Terrence N. D Altroy. Blackwell Publishers Inc. 2002. page 242. ISBN 0 631 17677 2] was the most extensive. The network … Wikipedia
Bridge — This article is about the structure. For other uses, see Bridge (disambiguation). The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan, the world s longest suspension span … Wikipedia
Suspension bridge — This article is concerned with a particular type of suspension bridge, the suspended deck type.:For an index to the several types see suspension bridge types.:For the Gladiators event, see Suspension Bridge (Gladiators). A suspension bridge is a… … Wikipedia
Pont de corde inca — Les ponts de corde inca sont des ponts suspendus franchissant des canyons ou des gorges, utilisés par la civilisation inca. Ces ponts servaient principalement aux piétons et au bétail, les incas ne connaissaient pas la roue. Ils furent intimement … Wikipédia en Français
Simple suspension bridge — This article is concerned with a particular type of suspension bridge, the simple suspension type.:For an index to the several types see suspension bridge types.A simple suspension bridge is an early bridge type and is still formed from native… … Wikipedia
Suspension bridge types — There are several types of suspension bridge:*Simple suspension bridge, a foundational type for pedestrians based upon the ancient Inca rope bridge. *Stressed ribbon bridge, similar to the simple suspension bridge but more stable and usable for… … Wikipedia
The Bridge of San Luis Rey — infobox Book | name = The Bridge of San Luis Rey title orig = translator = image caption = Penguin Modern Classics Cover author = Thornton Wilder illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series = genre = Novel… … Wikipedia