National Geographic : 1973 Dec
Enduring stones tell the Inca story SANDALED FEET polished the steps of the ceremonial center of Tarahuasi (right), as worshipers traveled the royal highway between Cuzco and the Apurimac River gorge. Orange lichens cover much of the polygonal stonework-set without mortar. Niches in the background may have housed man-size figures of gods. Bolivian pilgrims (below) still travel a segment of a royal Inca highway leading from Co pacabana on Lake Titicaca. Along such roads, relays of chasquis, or post runners, sped messages an average of 150 miles a day, keeping the em peror in touch with his realm. Intricately carved boulder about fourteen feet across (be low right) sits near a high pass above the Apurimac River. Chiseled with representations of temples, terraces, gods, mon keys, and pumas, it may be a fanciful model of a town or region. Water, when poured over the top, runs down through miniature canals, riv ers, fields, and terraces and drains through spouts on the sides of the granite mass. The rock may have been associated with a religious cult like those whose oracles advised the em peror. Shortly before the Span iards arrived, one such oracle forewarned the Lord Inca of "bearded ones" about to invade the imperial realm.