1,300-Year-Old Feathered Shield Found in Peru Temple
Archaeologists have found an ancient feathered shield in a sealed portion of a temple at the site of Pañamarca in Peru, which was made by the Moche people.
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 were pioneers of metal working techniques like gilding and soldering, which enabled them to created extraordinarily intricate jewellery and artefacts.
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 shield measures about 25 centimetres in diameter and was found face down near two ancient murals, one of which depicts a supernatural monster. It has a base made of carefully woven basketry with a handle and has a surface covered with red and brown textiles along with about a dozen yellow feathers sewn on. It may have originally held more than 100 feathers arranged in concentric circles.
The shield would have served a ritualistic rather than a practical use, either in ceremonial performances or in ritualized battles similar to gladiatorial combat, and the placement of the shield on the bench or altar appears to have been the last act carried out before the temple was sealed and a new temple built on top of it.