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The Great Inka Road: How Can a Road System Be an Example of Innovation?

The Inka Empire thrived in South America in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. To support the empire, the Inka built a vast road system for transportation, communication, and integration. This lesson highlights Inka engineering accomplishments that allowed the Inka to manage their vast and disperse empire, and how their legacy has relevancy in the present day. Explore a variety of sources to learn about the engineering of the Great Inka Road system and the Q'eswachaka suspension grass bridge. Este recurso también está disponible en español.

Resource Information

grades   5 6 7 8
Inka, Quechua, Aymara
Social Studies, Geography, History, Environmental Science, STEM
South America
Inka, Inka Empire, Inka Road, innovation, engineering, Great Inka Road system, Andes, suspension bridge, Ayni, reciprocity, Inca, Q'eswachaka
Essential Understandings More Close

3: Peoples, Places, and Environments
Key Concept: For thousands of years, indigenous people have studied, managed, honored, and thrived in their homelands. These foundations continue to influence American Indian relationships and interactions with the land today.

8: Science, Technology, and Society
Key Concept: American Indian knowledge resides in languages, cultural practices, and teaching that spans many generations. This knowledge is based on long-term observation, experimentation, and experience with the living earth. Indigenous knowledge has sustained American Indian cultures for thousands of years. When applied to contemporary global challenges, Native knowledge contributes to dynamic and innovative solutions.


Academic Standards More Close

Common Core State Standards

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

College, Career & Civic Life—C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.

Use paper based and electronic mapping and graphing techniques to represent and analyze spatial patterns of different environmental and cultural characteristics.

Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.

Explain how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices.

Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.

Organize applicable evidence into a coherent argument about the past.

Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.

Identify examples of the variety of resources (human capital, physical capital, and natural resources) that are used to produce goods and services.

Analyze the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in a market economy.

Explain barriers to trade and how those barriers influence trade among nations.

National Science Education Standards

Abilities of Technological Design, including evaluate completed technological designs and products; communicate the process of technological design.

Science and Technology in Local Challenges, including science and engineering work in many different settings.

Next-Generation Science Standards

Practice 2
Developing and using models.

Practice 6
Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).