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Chan Chan and the Lands of Sand

PERU | Sunday, 6 August 2006 | Views [2612] | Comments [1]

This week I have been traveling around the northern coastal regions of Peru. I have visited Piura, Chiclayo and now I am in Trujillo (Which I have to say is by far the best of the 3!) 

The cities in this area, to me, are less than impressive but luckily there is a ton of ancient archeological culture to keep me more than occupied for the time that I have spent in each place.

Near Chiclayo are numerous archeological sites built by the Moches many centuries ago. I visited the most famous of the sites there, being Sipan and Tucume.

Sipan, although the actual site itself was in a bit if a messy state ( The peruvian government does not yet have the funds to restore the 3 Moche pyramids at this site to their former glory...) is a fascinating place as it is the place where the first undisturbed tomb in all of Peru´s history was found (And later more were to be found, and there are still believed to be 2 more lurking there which will be excavated in the later months of this year).

The archeologist´s were first alerted to the presence of something important in the site when grave looters showed up in 1987, paying for beer at a local pub with real gold pieces... It turned out that they had actually stumbled upon the grave of one of the most recent Señores of Sipan. In this culture, when a king died, they would bury him with all his things and then build a level on top of him for the next king. There were 6 señores of Sipan so as you can imagine this was quite an exciting discovery... So there is still believed to be two tombs below the ones that they have already excavated which they will again look at at the end of the year.

The way that they burried their kings was really interesting. These people believed in the afterlife, so the king was burried with all of his possessions, clothing and jewelry, with enough food to last him for the next life (which varried with the importance of the person, this Señor was burried with over 1000 pots of food and drink!) with his wife and his concubines (what lucky women they were!), with a guardian who´s feet were cut off to prevent him from escaping, a 10 year old boy who would be burried alive to purrify the tomb(10 was some kind of symbolic number for these people...) and then there would be the dog who guided the way and two lamas with their heads chopped off to use as transport. Also found in the tombs were bones of various body parts -  They believe that in this culture that when a person died, intead of throwing flowers as we would now, they would throw in parts of their bodies which they would amputate including genitals, arms, legs, fingers and toes etc... Gory hey! The god that they worshied was a decapitating god...

In the musuem "Las tumbas reales de Sipan" you could see all the things recovered from the tombs which were really of undescribable beauty. The endless gold jewels made with the highest accuracy and attention to detail all exquisite. Worth the visit for sure... I was on a tour in the museum with 3 other people and by the end of the tour we had about 50 people who had tagged along with us, pretending not to listen - That sort of kept me amused also :)

Later in the afternoon I went to Tucume which was another Moche site consisting of 26 pyramids but again in pretty poor condition.

I arived in Trujillo yesterday... The city is surprisingly quite beautiful in places... The colonial style of the buildings sort of remind me a little of Cartagena with their bright chirpy colours but this city seems much more spacious in atmosphere... Today I went to the ancient moche capital of Chan Chan, then to some Pyramids/Huacas near by... Chan Chan was quite interesting to see because they had restored the central palace and it was also quite impressive to see the vast area of ruins... The Huaca that I enjoyed the most however was the Huaca "Arco Iris (rainbow)" as it had been burried in a heap of sand until the 1960´s and so all the freizes on the walls were really well preserved (hence where it got its name as it has dragons and rainbows depicted on the walls). I also got serranaded on panflute by a fellow at one of the huacas who wanted to follow me on my trip so that I could enjoy the real sonority of the instrument in its natural surrounds (Funny but a little odd?).

Tomorrow I am planning a visit to the Huacas de la Luna y del Sol and to the near by fishing town of huanchaco so I guess we will see how that goes!



Tags: Culture



hey clarita !! where are the pictures ??? i can notice you paid attention to the guide at the museum. You are just beginning to see the best part of peru, ready to go to cusco ???.
yes again , where are the pictures ?? you cant be visiting so many places without taking pictures.
take care,

  fernando Aug 8, 2006 11:28 PM

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