Peru’s Moche Civilization

There were many advanced civilizations that existed in Peru before the Incas. One of them was the Moches are Mochicas. This culture was dominant in Northern Peru during their time periods. Here we take a look back.

The Moches/Mochicas

The Moche culture was the dominant one in Northern Peru between 100 and 700 AD, following that of the Chavin. After 700, it began to decline and by 800 AD had collapsed. There are still many gaps in what is known about the Moche or Mochica culture, although much has been learned from excavations at the archaeological sites they left. Because the Moche people did not use written language, much knowledge of the culture has been gotten from studied their pottery.

The culture is well known for their ceramics and the depictions on these pieces give us a great deal of information. More is learned from their tombs as well. From all of these, we know that they honored their priests and warriors above all. Below them were the artisans and below this class were the rest of society such as farmers, servants and beggars.

All were required to obey the priests and warriors and, from the paintings on the ceramics, one can see that punishment for disobedience included mutilation and death. Other subjects lanzon monolitico chavin depicted are jewelry, instruments and clothing. We know from these that the Moche people were advanced in weaving but most of the textiles have not survived.

They are particularly known for their modeling of pots into representations showing life at the time including people, farming, animals, and homes. Medical procedures are also depicted, giving us an insight into such knowledge at the time. One of the subjects that the culture is most known for depicting is erotica. Many examples of this can be seen at the Museo Larco, The Rafael Herrera Larco Archeological Museum, in Lima, Peru.

The Moches are known to have been successful at both farming and fishing. The success of the farming was due in part to their unparalleled system for irrigation. They hunted but also kept some domesticated animals for food such as ducks and guinea pigs. Although the Peruvian hairless dog is often referred to as the dog of the Incas, it was domesticated by such pre-Incan civilizations such as the Mochica.

There are a number of sites that one can visit to get a feel for this culture. Close to Trujillo, there are the pyramids of the Huaca del Sol and the Huaca de la Luna. Also near Trujillo is the El Brujo complex which is undergoing continued investigation to learn more about the Moches.

One of the best known places for learning about the Moches is at the Lord of Sipan exhibit. The name comes from the remains of a man found in what appears to be a royal tomb of a warrior-priest. Although some of the site had already been plundered by the time of it’s discovery, many artifacts still remained, including art, jewelry and masks.

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