Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Modern Lessons from the Ancient Inca Road

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Modern Lessons from the Ancient Inca Road

Article excerpt

Christine Fiori has built an international reputation as an expert on the Inca Road, but she isn't an archaeologist or historian. She is the associate director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech, where she has taught since 2007.

Fiori, with support from the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., led the first detailed engineering study on the Inca Road. She has spent four years studying sections of the 700-year-old passage with an international team of researchers and students.

The Inca Road runs from Quito, Ecuador, to Santiago, Chile, traversing rainforests, deserts, and mountains as it climbs from sea level to an elevation of 14,000 feet. While simple in appearance, the road is engineered to stand the test of time; it still serves as a critical connection between small villages throughout the region.

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Fiori's work is building a new understanding of how ancient engineers worked with the environment to simply and effectively build lasting structures.

Modern road construction often relies on modifying the landscape by blasting through rock, which can result in landslides. …

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