Archaeologists in Peru study Inca trail to the beach

By Nick Rosen

In Tumbes, an ancient road leads to a beach where the Inca gathered precious shells.

Archaeologists in Peru study Inca trail to the beach

The Inca trail heading to Playa Hermosa (Andina)

There are many Inca trails crossing Andean peaks and valleys, but archaeologists are now studying a royal Inca road in Peru that ran to a tropical beach.

Researchers working on the Cabeza de Vaca-Qhapaq Ñan Project in Tumbes are studying an ancient road running from the Cabeza de Vaca pyramid to Playa Hermosa, some seven kilometers away.

According to Andina, researchers believe that the road was used for the collection of spondylus, a mollusk whose shell was deeply treasured by the pre-Columbian peoples of South America, including by the Inca elite. It was believed that the road was originally four meters in width and paved in stone, though in some spots it was expanded to up to 16 meters in width.

Archaeologists Rafael Reyes Ruiz and Delfin Vizarreta Núñez are studying the road, located eight kilometers south of Trujillo, in an effort to preserve it. They told Andina that it had been damaged by agricultural expansion and the construction of the Pan-American Highway.

Nationwide, an effort is being made to preserve the Inca trails that cross much of Peru. The government has said that it plans to seek World Heritage status for the ancient road network.