The Ancient Web: Peru

The Ancient Web

Archaeologists working in Peru have uncovered the skeleton of a woman believed to have been a high priestess of a mysterious culture that existed around 1,200 years ago. The pre-Hispanic remains were found in late July in an impressive burial chamber located in the country’s northern Chepén province, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Conquering South America’s western edge, the Incas ruled three distinct geographic regions that Spanish soldier-chronicler Pedro Cieza de León termed uninhabitable : rainless coastal deserts, mountain ranges towering more than 22,000 feet, and steamy rain forests. On slopes rising four vertical miles, climates in the empires varied from tropical to polar. In scattered areas on this slopes, at both high and low elevation, the Incas terraced and irrigated the land and produced abundant food for the twelve million or more subjects. A 10,000-mile network of roads, some as wide as 24 feet, knitted together the Incas’ domain. Parallel trunk lines-connected by lateral roads tracing river valleys-followed coast and highlands. Four main highways entered Cuzco, the heart of the empire.

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