Science: The Literate Incas

During the century before its fall to the conquistadors, Inca civilization flourished with startling grandeur. Inhabiting the Andean slopes from what is now Ecuador and Peru down into Chile and western Argentina, the Incas cut paved roads through the mountains, laid out elaborate irrigation systems, erected high suspension bridges across deep ravines. For all their engineering skills, these early Americans have long puzzled scholars because, unlike all the great peoples of the ancient world, they seemed to have no written language. Did they pass on their culture from generation to generation only by...

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