The Inca used a sophisticated system of relay runners known as chasquis to communicate between faraway villages. These messengers would run long distances, passing messages verbally or using quipus (knotted strings) to convey information.
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During the time of the Inca civilization, the communication between faraway villages was facilitated by a remarkable system of relay runners called chasquis. These messengers played a pivotal role in relaying information swiftly and efficiently across vast distances within the Inca Empire.
The chasquis were highly trained and would run on a network of roads, known as the Inca road system or Qhapaq Ñan, which spanned over 24,000 miles (39,000 kilometers). The roads were meticulously constructed and well-maintained, allowing the chasquis to travel quickly and safely.
To convey messages, the chasquis utilized various methods. They would run from one village to another, covering long distances in a relatively short amount of time. Along the way, they would pass the message verbally, memorizing the exact details to be communicated.
In addition to verbal communication, the chasquis also utilized quipus, a unique recording system consisting of knotted strings. Quipus served as a form of written communication for the Inca civilization, allowing them to convey numeric and symbolic information. They consisted of various colored and knotted strings that represented different meanings, acting as a kind of portable and visual information storage system.
According to Incan expert Gary Urton, the quipus were “a method for coding and transmitting information efficiently.” Their use by the chasquis allowed them to accurately relay complex messages between villages, ensuring the efficient communication within the vast empire.
Interesting facts about the Inca communication system:
- The chasquis were selected from an early age and trained extensively to become skilled messengers.
- The Inca road system was a monumental achievement of engineering, encompassing suspension bridges, tunnels, and steep staircases.
- Some estimates suggest that messages could travel up to 240 kilometers (150 miles) per day using the relay system.
- The chasquis would often run in a relay fashion, where a fresh runner would take over the message after a certain distance, ensuring the message could be delivered quickly without exhaustion.
- The quipus were used not only for conveying messages but also for recording statistical and accounting data.
In summary, the Inca’s communication system relied on the incredible abilities of the chasquis, who ran long distances and conveyed messages verbally or with the aid of quipus. The robust network of roads and the use of these skilled messengers enabled effective communication between faraway villages within the Inca Empire.
A well-known quote on communication by Brian Tracy is, “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” This highlights the importance of both the method of communication and the conveyance of information in any communication system, including that of the Inca civilization.
Below is a table comparing the Inca communication system with other ancient methods of communication:
|Method of Communication||Inca Civilization||Ancient Egypt||Ancient China|
|System||Relay runners and quipus||Hieroglyphics and papyrus||Carrier pigeons|
|Key medium||Chasquis and quipus||Papyrus scrolls||Painted or written messages|
|Communication Speed||Fast||Decently fast||Relatively fast|
|Infrastructure||Extensive road network||Nil||Beacon towers|
|Cultural Significance||Integral part of society||Important for recordkeeping||Military significance|
|Surviving forms of||Quipus||Hieroglyphics||Oracle bone scripts|
The Inca Empire began with Veera coca inca and his son Pecha Kuti, who expanded the empire through diplomacy, fortification, and logistics. Diplomacy involved trade, monetary rewards, and influential marriages, while fortifications were built in areas of intimidation. The empire faced challenges with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, who were able to conquer the Inca due to their superior weapons and tactics. After the fall of the empire, the indigenous population declined due to epidemics, infighting among the Spanish, and war against the remaining Inca resistance. Despite the fall, the language Quechua is still spoken and ancient rituals continue to be practiced. Archaeologists are still uncovering information about this intriguing people.
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