Treasures unearthed

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Jan 03, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hostal Sican

Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, October 27, 2008

My first excursion from Chiclayo was to the archaeological site of Sipan.  This site was officially discovered in the late 1980s, after an archaeologist noticed a lot of valuable artefacts suddenly appearing on the black market.  He traced them back to this site, and when it was excavated, they discovered a number of tombs, most of which had been plundered by grave robbers, but then the archaeologists dug deeper and discovered an incredible tomb that hadn´t been found by graverobbers, and it contained an enormous amount of gold, silver, ceramics and other valuables.  The tomb was the burial place of a man of great importance, who belonged to the Moche culture.

The Moche existed in the northern part of the Peruvian coast from about 200BC - 700AD, so were about 700 years before the incas.  They were a warrior race, who fought battles with other societies, and prisoners were taken for human sacrifice.  They had no written language that we know of, but scientists have been able to learn a lot about their culture, from their incredible ceramics, in which they depicted many scenes from everyday life, and their paintings etc.

At Sipan, the excavated tombs are displayed with replicas, as they were found.  Most of the original artefacts are housed in museums, especially the excellent Museum of the royal tombs of Sipan, which is in Lambayeque, a small town just outside Chiclayo.  This museum was constructed specifically to showcase the finds from Sipan and really is brilliant.  The pieces are displayed in the order in which they were discovered by archaeologists, so it kind of builds the suspense, until you get to the Lord of Sipan himself.  No photos allowed, and I´m yet to find a good postcard, so you´ll just have to take my word for it that the stuff they dug out of that tomb was astounding - hundreds and hundreds of ceramics, jewellry, armour and other objects crafted from gold, silver, turqoise, lapis lazuli etc and beautiful huge pectoral shawls and necklaces made from tiny beads of conche shells.  The find has been compared to the discovery of Tutankhamun´s tomb in Egypt, and really is amazing.  The exciting thing is that they are still excavating the site, so who knows what else will turn up in the future!
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