The Highway of the Sun

Presumably Jack Douglas
Production Date: 
1958; airdate January 20, 1958 on ABC (Season 2, Episode 21)
Julian Lesser
Host, Jack Douglas
Run Time: 

Establishing shot:
Named locations:
Chan Chan (9:39); Graveyard of Kings (11:51); Chala (13:42); “Temple of the Sun” (19:05); Machu Picchu (20:14).
Major themes covered:
expedition search for The Highway of the Sun, the 10,000 mile Inca highway system—as seen on the TV series, Bold Journey
Native activities shown: Inca activities implied or alluded to in the film: being “terrifically afraid of water” (11:19); building roads above watermark to avoid flooding (11:30); ditch irrigation system (11:39); burial rites of Peruvian (Inca?) kings (13:12); Inca troops using Chala as rest stop (14:40); running along highway to deliver food, supplies, messages (15:20); putting up wooden bridges over rivers (17:40); covering seats of Temple of the Sun with gold (19:13); collecting tolls from/keeping track of users of highway (19:40) .

Chimu activities implied or alluded to in the film: smelting copper, gold and silver (10:11); storing water in reservoirs and letting water out periodically throughout the year (10:37).

Quechua activities depicted in the film: loading mules for members of von Hagen expedition (18:15)

Unidentified indigenous (presumably Quechua) peoples’ activities depicted in the film: two women wearing bowler hats explaining something to one of the members of the von Hagen expedition (16:20); herding llamas up steps in highway (19: 25).

Individuals Named: Atahualpa (19:19). 
Print Resources: 

Bingham, Hiram. Machu Picchu, a Citadel of the Incas. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1979.

      *Includes Hiram Bingham’s original report on the discovery and excavation of Machu Picchu.  Presents findings and details of 1911, 1912, and 1915 expeditions and excavations.

Blasco, Bosqued M. C, and Gómez L. J. Ramos. Cerámica Nazca. Valladolid: Seminario Americanista de la Universidad de Valladolid, 1980.

      *Informative Spanish-language book describes archaeological efforts to preserve Nazca pottery.  Includes many examples of Nazca pottery along with pictures.

Burger, Richard L, and Lucy C. Salazar. Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

      *More recent and oft-cited collection of studies of Machu Picchu.  Includes chapters on Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu, the significance of Machu Picchu as an Inca royal estate, and the contemporary issues revolving around Machu Picchu.

Hyslop, John. The Inka Road System. Orlando: Academic Press, 1984.

     *Oft-cited work details archaeological study to trace extent of Inca road system (Qhapaq Nan).  Attempts to reconstruct old routes that have since been eroded or otherwise lost, and estimates the length of road could have been up to 25,000 miles.

Malpass, Michael A. Daily Life in the Inca Empire. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1996. 

     *Provides broad overview of ancient Inca way of life.  According to the Handbook of Latin American Studies review, Malpass “Looks at everyday life in the Inca empire, based on current research. Reconstructs Inca way of life using information on life-cycle events, food and drink, dress and ornaments, recreation, religious rituals, the calendar, and the labor tax.”

Moseley, Michael E, and Kent C. Day. Chan Chan, Andean Desert City. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982.

     *Academic volume collects various essays about Chan Chan in order to give a comprehensive study of the site.  Includes essays exploring the design, architecture and chamber-rooms of Chan Chan.

Niles, Susan A. The Shape of Inca History: Narrative and Architecture in an Andean Empire. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.

      *Explores connection between history/historical narrative and architecture in Inca society, with special emphasis on time of Huayna Capac’s reign.  From the book jacket: “Susan Niles considers the ways in which the Inca concept of history informed their narratives, rituals, and architecture. Using sixteenth-century chronicles of Inca culture, legal documents from the first generation of conquest, and field investigation of architectural remains, she strategically explores the interplay of oral and written histories with the architectural record and provides a new and exciting understanding of the lives of the royal families on the eve of conquest.

Rowe, John H, and Dorothy Menzel. Peruvian Archaeology: Selected Readings. Palo Alto, CA: Peek Publications, 1967.

     *Anthology contains studies on Chavin, Mochica, Nazca, Chimu and Tiahuanaco cultures.  Covers significance of various artifacts and objects, like pottery and whistling jars, and also the archaeological sites where those artifacts were found, like Huaca Prieta.

Von, Hagen V. W. Highway of the Sun. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce [and] Little, Brown, Boston, 1955.

      *Book that resulted from the von Hagen expedition depicted in the film.  Includes discussion of findings, maps, illustrations and photographs by members of expedition.  Some photographs likely taken by Richard Lawrence. 

Wright, Kenneth R, and Zegarra A. Valencia. Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel. Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers, 2000.

      *Thorough exploration of various engineering aspects of Machu Picchu.  Includes chapters on hydraulic engineering, irrigation, construction of stone walls, and others.  Concludes with a civil engineering tour of Machu Picchu

Online Resources:

IMDb page for Bold Journey TV Series:

Includes information about hosts, air dates, and other trivia.

Encyclopedia Britannica entry for “Inca:”

Provides broad overview of Inca history, language, social structure, engineering practices, and religious beliefs.  Includes a wide variety of links to other informative Britannica pages on Inca art, architecture, history, and language.

National Geographic “Inca Empire” site:

Interactive website hosts article on current archaeological and academic efforts to more fully understand the ancient Incas. Discusses Inca history and civilization.  Links to a variety of pages on Inca architecture and organization, Hiram Bingham’s excavation expedition, and more. 

British Museum page on Incas:

Short article gives broad overview of Inca life, economics, politics, and religion.  Includes snippet on Inticancha (Coricancha) and links to Inca artifacts housed at the museum.

UNESCO World Heritage Site page on Machu Picchu:

Multimedia page presents information on the history and cultural significance of Machu Picchu among the Incas.  Also includes variety of links to other informative pages.

UNESCO World Heritage Site on Chan Chan:

Multimedia page provides history and description of Chan Chan, along with discussion of endangerment of the site and efforts to protect and preserve it.

Smithsonian article on Chan Chan:

Informative page includes history of Chan Chan, beginning with its significance as Chimu metropolis and seat of Chimu empire, and continuing through Inca conquest.  Discusses contemporary concerns about erosion at Chan Chan that threatens to wipe the site out of existence.  Links to photo gallery.

UNESCO World Heritage Center page on “Highway of the Sun” (Qhapaq Nan):

Includes background and description of Qhapaq Nan.  Discusses uses and extent of the road system.  

Peru Cultural Society page on Inca Road System and Chasquis:

Short article discusses Inca use of Chasquis on road system to relay messages from one end of Inca empire to the other.


--Adam Iddings, 2013