Archaeologists uncover ancient Moche tomb along with stunning and unique artifacts
Archaeologists in Peru have discovered the tomb of an elite Mochica ruler at the Huaca de la Luna archaeological complex, an ancient temple located in what is now the city of Trujillo on the north coast of Peru, which was dedicated entirely to making human sacrifices as offerings to the deity of the mountains. According to a report in Peru This Week, the tomb contained a collection of stunning artifacts, which signify the elite status of the individual buried there.
The Moche was a mysterious civilization who ruled the northern coast of Peru approximately two thousand years ago. They built huge pyramids made of millions of mud bricks and created an extensive network of aqueducts which enabled them to irrigate crops in their dry desert location. They were also pioneers of metal working techniques like gilding and soldering, which enabled them to created extraordinarily intricate jewellery and artifacts.
Little was known about the Moche civilization because they left no written texts to help explain their beliefs and customs. However, the discovery of detailed paintings and murals on pottery work and on temple walls has helped to provide insights into their culture and beliefs.
The Huaca de la Luna site is famous for its massive mural which covers 200 square feet and portrays vivid scenes of human sacrifice, war and violence, as well as more mundane scenes such as people capturing birds with nets, fishing from a reed boat still used locally today, and even smelting gold.
The Huaca de la Luna archaeological complex in the city of Trujillo on the north coast of Peru. Photo source: megaconstrucciones.net
The latest discovery at Huaca de la Luna dates back approximately 1,500 years and provides a fascinating glimpse into the culture of the Moche. The tomb contained a copper sceptre, bronze earrings, a mask, and ceremonial ceramics. The most unique and interesting artifacts, however, are the small pieces made to look like feline jaws and paws. El Comercio reported that the animal body parts may have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat, particularly considering that the cat is one of the major deities of the Moche.
Artifacts recovered from the Moche tomb. Credit: La Republica
Santiago Uceda, co-director of the digs at the Huaca de la Luna, told El Comercio that “The sceptre signifies power; the earrings, status; and the canchero [ceremonial ceramic piece] is indicative of an elite personage.”
The remains of the ruler and the set of artifacts will be closely examined over the coming months in order to be able to draw more accurate conclusions about their origin and functions in Moche society.
Featured image: The feline paw found in the Moche tomb. Photo source.