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Archaeologist Dr. Matt Edwards, vice president of SWCA’s four corners region, recently made a significant breakthrough in the study of ancient Andean infrastructure. His latest research, published in the Spanish-language journal Boletín de Arqueología by Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, uncovers fascinating insights into pre-Incan civilizations and their remarkable achievements.

As principal investigator and co-director alongside Patricia Quiñónez Cuzcano, Dr. Edwards explores the mysteries of the Wari civilization — a culture that built a vast and diverse empire that stretched across the Peruvian Andes and survived for over 300 years, beginning in AD 650 and collapsing sometime around AD 1000. The study presents compelling evidence that the Wari constructed an imperial highway that connected the southern coast to the Andean mountains, a vital route that functioned for over half a millennium before the rise of the Inca Empire.

The traditional narrative has long suggested that the Incas were pioneers in large-scale road construction to facilitate their imperial expansion. However, Dr. Edwards’ research paints a different picture, indicating that these pre-Incan civilizations were not only advanced in their architectural and urban planning but also exemplified strategic foresight in connecting vast and remote regions. This sophisticated network of roads not only facilitated trade but also played a crucial role in military campaigns and governance, laying the groundwork for the extensive Incan empire that would follow.

For enthusiasts of archaeology and ancient cultures, Dr. Edwards’ article offers a riveting exploration of a lesser-known era that set the stage for one of history’s greatest empires.

Learn more about archaeology services at SWCA and read the full article via the Boletín de Arqueología.