The Message Must Get Through
BEFORE the telegraph was invented, long-distance communication was often slow and awkward, depending on the means of travel and the terrain. Consider the challenges facing the Incas, who had a vast empire in South America.
At its peak in the late 15th and early 16th centuries C.E., the Inca Empire embraced parts of modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, where the empire’s ancient capital, Cuzco, was located. Travel was hampered by towering mountain ranges, dense jungles, and vast distances. Moreover, the Incas had no beasts of burden other than llamas, no wheeled vehicles, and no writing. So how did they communicate with one another in this large, diverse realm?
The Incas made their language, Quechua, the tongue of the empire. They also built many roads. Their royal road, or main highway, stretched more than 3,000 miles [5,000 km] through the Andean highlands, while a parallel road ran some 2,500 miles [4,000 km] along the Pacific Coast. Lateral roads connected the two. The Incas also constructed paved, stepped roads over high passes, pontoon bridges over marshes, and daring suspension bridges over gorges. One suspension bridge spanned 150 feet [45 m], had cables as thick as a man’s body, and was in use for 500 years, until 1880!
The key to Inca communication was an organization of runners called chasquis, who were stationed at intervals along major routes. The runners ran relays of two or three miles [three or four kilometers] each and reportedly covered over a hundred miles during daylight hours. They conveyed many messages orally but carried statistical information about governmental matters on an intriguing device called a quipu. A quipu was essentially a complex memory aid made of rope and color-coded cords. Knots in the cords represented units, tens, and hundreds. When the Spanish conquered the Incas, the quipu became obsolete and the codes were forgotten.
‘Comely Feet Upon the Mountains’
Today the most important message of all is being carried to millions of Quechua-speaking people—the good news of God’s Kingdom, a world government that will bring peace to all who submit to its rule. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 24:14) Travel in the land once ruled by the Incas remains difficult, and Quechua is still largely an unwritten language. But Jehovah’s Witnesses—many of whom have learned to speak Quechua—joyfully distribute written and audio publications in a number of modern dialects of the language.
The work of these evangelizers calls to mind the inspired words: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better.”—Isaiah 52:7.