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SIPAN LORD OF THE DESERT

The Funeral Chamber

After the systematic cleaning of the central section of the platform, a fill-in of earth delimited by adobes cut from the building was identified. Progressively removing this fill-in, at ten feet down, there was found the deteriorated skeleton of a young man bearing a copper shield on his forearm and the remains of a gilded helmet on the cranium, the typical, sober apparel of a Mochica soldier, whose amputated feet symbolize the obligation to remain at his guard post for ever. Some 20 inches further down were the parallel traces of 17 disintegrated guards, forming the roof and sealing the chamber measuring seventeen by seventeen feet.

In the center were revealed eight oxidized copper strips, the bindings of the first wood coffin known to American archeology. To penetrate it required arduous surgery as the contents were found in layers compressed by the mass of fill-in and earth falls that covered the chamber. Amidst the sediments there appeared the perfect, determined face in a miniature sculpture 6.2 millimeters high that represents a Mochica warrior chief dressed in a turquoise tunic, a half moon crown on its head and a mobile ornament in the nose. Tiny owl heads hung from the neck, held by gold thread, and rattles from its belt.

&The display of realism even showed the tensed leg muscles; the right arm held a fighting mace and the left forearm had only just released the diminutive shield. This delicate human effigy corresponded to the central part of a discoid earplug, bordered by little gold spheres. At either side of our personage were found two warriors in profile, worked in small mosaics of turquoises and gold.

The cleaning of the first layer showed two pairs of gold and turquoise earplugs, at either side of the cranium. Three pointed lances and copper discs rested on the central part, where an ingot of solid gold shone once again.

The Lord was shod in sandals of copper. Around the funeral bundle, originally wrapped in cotton robes, were found many spondylus shells brought from the Gulf of Guayaquil, highly valued in the rites of Ancient Peru. Covering the bones of the face were a pair of gold eyes, a nose and a protector of the same metal for the chin, to cover the face up to the cheeks as a kind of helmet. Two nose clips of gold were found close to the face and on a box of the same metal reposed the cranium.

Thousands of tiny cylindrical beads of red, white and orange conches formed a total of 11 pectorals laid successively on the breast, the legs or under the skeleton. Various disintegrated headdresses formed a sort of fan of feathers with copper handles. Hundreds of minute turquoise beads made up the elegant bracelets of the Lord.


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