How the Inca Leapt Canyons

The NYC times has an interesting article on how the Incas were the first humans to create suspension bridges. Jessica and I have been in mesoamerica phase, reading intriguing books on the original discoverers of the Americas. No, it wasn’t Columbus.

Books to consider:

So, how did they do it? A lot of braiding.

Garcilasco de la Vega, in 1604, reported on the cable-making techniques. The fibers, he wrote, were braided into ropes of the length necessary for the bridge. Three of these ropes were woven together to make a larger rope, and three of them were again braided to make a still larger rope, and so on. The thick cables were pulled across the river with small ropes and attached to stone abutments on each side. Three of the big cables served as the floor of the bridge, which often was at least four to five feet wide, and two others served as handrails. Pieces of wood were tied to the cable floor. Finally, the floor was strewn with branches to give firm footing for beasts of burden. More branches and pieces of wood were strung to make walls along the entire length of the bridge. The side covering, one chronicler said, was such that “if a horse fell on all fours, it could not fall off the bridge.”

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