This was the comment page for readings in Introduction to Anthropology 2017 concerning social and technical complexity:
- Lavenda and Schultz, “Why Did Humans Establish States?” in Anthropology: What does it mean to be human?
- How the Inca Leapt Canyons by John Noble Wilford in The New York Times (2007)
This material was for Introduction to Anthropology 2017. It was the last time I used the John Noble Wilford article on “How the Inca Leapt Canyons.” I studied in the Andes, but not in the area of the Inka, and I never had the opportunity to traverse a rope bridge. I was sad to read this assessment from 2021:
For the residents of Sarhua, a cable bridge was built in 1992 that effectively ended the biennial construction of the rope bridges. In 2007, a larger bridge that could carry cars was built. Tinkuqchaka was made anew in 2010 and reconstructed for the last time in 2014 for the sake of tourism. The local youth seem uninterested in renewing the tradition.
It appears we have come to witness the end of something wonderful, unique, and to foreign eyes, spectacular. Something that was present almost everywhere in this region is fading away forever, and some of us who had the fortune to see and walk on these bridges sometimes took them for granted, without realizing that within our lifetime an important chapter of Andean history was coming to an end.
—Peru’s Incan Rope Bridges Are Hanging by a Thread by Lidio Valdez and Cirilo Vivanco.
For a 2021 update on the theme of complexity, see Stratified Complexity: