During my recent trip to Northern Peru to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, I followed in the footsteps of the fascinating Moche. As one of the pre-Incan civilisations, they were socially, politically and culturally very developed and it is believed it as these traits that enabled the Incas to thrive in Southern Peru for nearly 100 years.
Many Pre-Incan sites remain near Trujillo. Amongst others, I visited Huaca del Sol y de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon) built by the Moche and the archaeological site of Chan Chan, an incredible sprawling town covering nearly 20 km2. I was most intrigued by Museo de Cao, home to the mummified remains of ‘Senora de Cao’. Her tattooed body buried with numerous ceremonial artefacts, leading you to wonder what important role she played in Moche history.
I was privileged to meet with the leading Peruvian archaeologist Dr Walter Alva, who unearthed the tomb of the ‘Lord of Sipan’. Untouched by thieves, the tomb is one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the world, containing the mummified remains of a Moche warrior and leader. The majority of the finds are now housed in The Tumbes Reales Museum of Sipan and is a truly fascinating exhibition.
Off the beaten track, visiting the archaeological site of San Jose de Moro is a real adventure. This is one of the most important cemetery sites ever discovered, containing ritual burials from numerous Mochica civilisations. The excavations have given archaeologists an incredible insight into the beliefs, artwork, traditions and governmental structure of these ancient societies.
I spent only a fraction of my time in Peru exploring these archaeological sites, however, they give a fascinating insight into the incredible history of Peru. For anyone with a keen interest in archaeology, I cannot recommend Northern Peru enough.