The Inca’s revolutionary contributions to mankind were groundbreaking and amazing. The Incas started out as a small group of people back in the 13th century who traced their origins from the highlands of the Andes Mountains and made their way down to the valley of Cuzco, Peru and grew into an empire some 200 years later.
The empire comprised about 10 to 15 million inhabitants and their civilization thrived from 1438 until 1532 when the Spanish conquered it, gradually wiping out their culture and way of life. But as it is, the Incas were among the people who had many notable contributions to the modern world.
1. Road Network
Although the Incas were not responsible for inventing roads, they actually were the inventors of the transportation network, comprising of roads and highways that connected communities within their occupied territories.
This road network was established in such a large and complex scale never before seen South America and covered nearly 40,000 kilometers (about 25,000 miles) ranging from simple yet clear dirt pathways to stone paved streets measuring between 3 to 15 feet in width.
The pathways converged into a main imperial highway called the Carpac-Nan that ran along a north-south channel with a portion traversing the coastline and another parallel to the mountainside.
Just like modern-day highways, archeaologists discovered that the Carpac-Nan also had resting establishments known as tampus, that were located at the roadsides to provide travelers food and lodging as well as replenish supplies.
This network system also provided the Incas with a highly efficient communication network, as messengers are able to speed up delivery of messages from one point to another in the shortest amount of time.
The Incas were the first people to effectively harness the power of the cold to freeze-dry and preserve food.
The Incas began by bringing potatoes up in the freezing Andes Mountains. The potatoes are placed between sheets of cloth and pressed down by walking on it until they draw out the moisture from the potatoes. These are then collected frozen the following day – they call these freeze-dried potatoes chuño.
Aside from being lightweight these food products are preserved for long periods of time so they can stack up during abundant harvests, while soldiers also carry large amounts as a ready-to-eat food source during their periods of campaign struggles.
3. Terraced Farming
Incas learned to adapt to their environments, evident in their invention of terraced farming on mountain slopes. What looked like steps on mountain sides were actually ingenious farm plots.
Due to the lack of land to farm for Incas living in upland areas, they developed stepped terraces to answer their need for level farmland. Incas were intelligent engineers that they effectively made use of stones to strengthen the base and walls of the steps and filling it with soil for cultivation.