New Elite Burial Discovered at Sipán
New Elite Burial Discovered at SipánA new discovery at the site of Sipán, Peru, holds the potential to shed additional light on the ritual behaviors of the ancient Moche past.Sipán is an archaeological site in Peru, one of the religious and economic centers of the Moche culture [AD 100-800], the civilization probably best known for luscious sculpted polychrome pottery--some quite famously erotic. Although we don't know too much about the Moche culture itself--many of the sites have been disastrously looted--we do have access to what seems to be a key cultural story of the Moche: the Warrior Narrative, a tale of ritual combat and human sacrifice.
The Moche Warrior Narrative
Wall Façade at El Brujo: The Prisoners.
Photo Credit: Véronique DebordThe only way we know about the Moche legend called the Warrior Narrative at all is by the painstaking piecing together of its storyline from drawings on ceramic pots excavated from Moche sites and found in museums scattered around the world, and from murals sculpted into walls at sites such as El Brujo, Pañamarca and Huaca de la Luna. The key to our glimmers of understanding of the Moche Warrior Narrative has been, most spectacularly, from burials, exotic gold-, silver- and copper-laden burials that inextricably tie ritual behaviors into Moche legends painted onto vessels and carved into stone.
What these burials represent are people costumed in the regalia of actors within the Warrior Narrative--people known from the legend as the Warrior Priest, the Bird Priest and the Priestess. Interred with headdresses and weapons of their assumed roles--and sometimes with sacrificial victims and offerings of items illustrated in the images of the Warrior Narrative--these burials have been found at sites such as San José de Moro and El Brujo, and at Sipán itself, where the first Warrior Priest was identified in 1987, called el Señor de Sipán.
Latest Findings at SipanThe latest excavations at Sipán began in May of 2007 and will run through the end of the year. In July of this year, excavators reported the discovery of a new elite burial, and although evidence is still limited and these findings are preliminary at best, excavator Walter Alva believes that he may have found a new representative burial of the Moche Warrior Narrative.
For more about this find and the Warrior Narrative, see the Photo Gallery and assorted files.
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