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THE LORD OF SIPAN WHAT'S NEW

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THE LORD OF SIPAN

In 1987 the world's media announced a major archaeological discovery, which was called "El Seņor de Sipan" (The Lord of Sipan) located in the Lambayeque Region of the Province of Chiclayo, District of Zaņa, Annex of Sipan, Township of Huaca Rajada.

The discovery of "El Seņor de Sipan" was an exceptional event, during which shards of pottery, huacos, burial urns, tombs and excavations appeared in a very haphazard fashion, as well as some rooms and storehouses that were used by the first inhabitants of the city. The important thing though, was that this place had been sealed and was still untouched.

"El Seņor de Sipan" was the ethnic prince of the middle valley of Lambayeque, in the period from the 2nd to the 3rd century AD (250 AD approximately). He was invested with triple authority: military, religious and civil. He exercised this authority from the Governing Complex, which allowed him to scan everything in view, including the sea, the mountains, the desert, the valley and his enormous farmlands.

In the valley we will find a series of mounds that are the remains left by the thousand-year-old Moche civilization that once housed fifteen thousand people, among potters, goldsmiths, weavers and builders whose position might have been slightly higher than that of the almost 100,000 farmers and farm hands who inhabited the area. All these people lived in a complex society, with multiple social strata: producers, administrators, clergy, military men, planners and all else necessary for a complex society, a city and the whole system needed to satisfy ongoing needs.

The builders of the citadel of "El Seņor de Sipan" were the Moche or Mochicas , who developed originally in the present La Libertad Region, to spread later to the valleys of Lambayeque, Chicama, Moche, Viru, Santa and Nepeņa, over a 6,500 km2 area, including some towns in Cajamarca and Ancash, over a period extending from around 200 BC to the seventh century of our era. Within this period there are five (5) consecutive development stages.

The most important center of this civilization was in the Moche Valley, very close to the present-day city of Trujillo, where the most important buildings are located, such as the "Huacas del Sol y de La Luna" and "El Brujo", which must have formed an important part of the government administration.

The Mochicas were a very warlike people who took their enemies as slaves, having a marked social caste system and a well-organized society able to develop a great civilization based on artificial irrigation of the coastal valleys. By the use of canals they were able to irrigate more soil than modern farming methods in the area. Their major monuments are a testimony to their degree of organization. They developed almost all the metallurgy technology and trade routes used later, and their main product was a very special realistically expressive style in ceramics.

"El Seņor de Sipan", when discovered, was accompanied with his ceremonial ceramic utensils (which he was to use as an offering to his god when he met him in the hereafter), and was buried with his head pointing exactly south, at the precise mid-point of a square formed by the corpses of four members of his court, each aligned with one point of the compass. Very close by were a dog and three young (18-21 years of age) women, who were apparently his concubines; moreover, he had his food with him and his personal priest; his coffin was of cane woven with vegetable fiber (nails were unknown at the time), and held together with copper clasps. Over the coffin were laid several strata of fabrics, grass mats and finely woven cloth, shedding some light on the elaborate complexity of the burial ceremony; The ornamentation he was wearing when found was of a highly diverse nature, among others: two coxal protectors (one of gold and the other of silver), on his chest a necklace made from ten gold and ten silver "peanuts", at his waist he had golden rattles, in his right hand a ceremonial scepter with a silver handle and at its end a truncated pyramid of gold, and under his body had been placed his half-moon upper diadem, made of gold and consisting of a 62 cm by 42 cm sheet. This symbol had previously only been seen in Moche iconography, and had always been linked to the highest investiture of the governing class. Likewise, eleven pectoral plates were found distributed successively over the chest, the legs and under the skeleton; other objects found included eye protectors, a nose protector, a chin-guard, ear covers made of turquoises and gold, all of the foregoing comprising the funereal finery of "El Seņor de Sipan". When he had been duly buried, seventeen locust-tree beams were laid over the grave, that was 5 meters square; over the aforesaid beams was placed a guard figure with amputated legs, symbolizing his inability to escape the duty of remaining at his guard post.

This culture started to decline around 600 AD, until it totally disappeared in 750 AD, to make way for newer cultures with higher quality ceramic products such as those of Lambayeque, in the valley of the same name, and of Chimu, in the Moche valley, which served as the basis for the creation of the Inca Empire.

To display its marvelous cultural legacy, revealing the degree of complexity and development attained by this society, a museum was built in the city of Lambayeque, inspired by Moche architecture. Within this museum may be found the remains of "El Seņor de Sipan", as well as items in ceramics and gold in modern, hermetically sealed display cases. A complete Moche period village has been recreated within the museum as well, including its ceramic and weaving techniques.


 
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