After the long and difficult trek from Panama, I was very happy to finally be in Peru. I've spent a couple of days in Peru's fourth largest city, called Chiclayo. Sipan is a 1,500 year old Moche burial site that is located near Chiclayo. Sipan means "Casa de la Luna", or "House of the Moon."
The climb up to the top of the pyramid is very steep. These pyramids were made with thousands of adobe bricks uniformly shaped and stamped with a mark of the workers who made them. The sides of the pyramids were then covered over with mud so they would appear smooth and seamless.
But his was not the only casket, for alongside of him were coffins containing the remains of a guard (whose feet had been amputated), three young women, two assistants, a servant, a child, a dog and two llamas! Adornments of gold, silver, and copper as well as many semi-precious stones were buried with them. As if taking the lives of his servants wasn't enough, the Lord of Sipan's tomb also held hundreds of ceramic pots (some large and some small) that at the time of his death were all filled with enough food and drink to last him until he reached his final destination!
The great devotion to this ruler, who was able to display such wealth and power even in the face of death, must have been quite an inspiration to the many people who built the Lord of Sipan's tomb. Even today the site is well maintained and protected, although this was not the case at first.
Back in 1987, archeologist Dr. Alva began to notice an increasing amount of beautiful artifacts appearing on the black market and he quickly realized that an important burial site was being ransacked by "huaqueros", or grave robbers. "Huacas" are temples, shrines, or burial sites that often contain such riches as sheets of gold and silver, or other royal treasures.
Both the local archeologists and the police stopped the robbers from plundering this site. However, after police shot one of the huaqueros, local residents became resentful that these treasures were being kept from them and became unfriendly to the archeologists. The solution to this problem was to employ the local population in much of the excavation, research, and guarding of the site. In addition, there is an on-site museum with in-depth displays about the Moche, their burial sites, and the Lord of Sipan.
The Moche culture developed about 2,000 years ago in this lower river valley. This strip of coastline is mostly desert, but over centuries several rivers have formed here. The Moche were able to develop systems of irrigation to support their agriculture in this river valley environment. The land was also rich with clay and metals, which were used to create artistic works that tell us much about the Moche since they kept no written records.
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