Inside NMAI

Inside NMAI: Down the Inka Road

Eventually the research team hopes to perform similar research across the entire Cusco Valley. Dr. Matos’s summer research was made possible by a generous gift from Kenneth and Ruth Wright, whose own work in the Cusco Valley, particularly in Machu Picchu, Tipón and Moray, has been instrumental in highlighting the hydrological acumen and achievements of the Inka.

Coming Next

The exhibition in Washington, D.C., is open until June 2020. Programming will continue throughout this time, including celebrating Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, each June. The cultural interpreters are completing an exploration cart with many of the handling objects purchased for the exhibition, such as beautifully woven textiles, various musical instruments and ornamental items used to decorate the llamas in the caravans. Teachers can look forward to lessons on Inka roads and bridges, terraces and water management with the Museum’s new educational initiative, Native Knowledge 360˚ ( as well as additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) lessons from the Smithsonian.

Matos presented a paper at a conference on Inka engineering held in Cusco in November, concurrent with the listing of the Inka Road as one of the engineering marvels of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Society is also working on a companion publication about Inka engineering, highlighting some of the research featured in the exhibition. And, of course, Dr. Matos is planning his next research trip and lining up new speaking engagements.

The Inka Empire may have ended nearly 500 years ago, but the Inka legacy and influence continue in contemporary communities all along the Andes. The Museum has plenty of work still to do to highlight this dynamic region and its people.

Amy Van Allen is the project manager for the Museum’s Inka Road project. She is also a PhD candidate in Geography working on politics in cultural heritage.