Archaeological discoveries

Tombs of Mochica military leaders discovered in Peru

New tombs have just been unearthed in the arid regions of northern Peru, where stand the impressive ceremonial centers of one of the most powerful civilizations prior to the Incas, that of the Mochicas.

Tomb of a Mochica military leader discovered near Chiclayo, in northern Peru.

Long before the Inca Empire extended its hold on the Andes (XIV-XV e century), the Mochica (or Moché) had set up a formidable state on the northern coast of Peru, between the I st and the VIII th century of our era. Contemporaries of the Paracas and Nazcas of the south of the country, the Mochicas were distinguished by their monumental architecture, the cruelty of the human sacrifices to which they frequently resorted, as well as the richness of their funeral rites.

Presentation of the tombs of Mochica dignitaries from the Huaca Pueblo de Ucupe by Peruvian archaeologist Velko Marusic. ©Deisy Cubas / RPP News

A few days ago, the Peruvian press thus echoed the discovery, not far from Chiclayo, by a team from the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan, of three mochica burials in adobe bricks, within the archaeological complex of the huaca Pueblo de Ucupe . One of the burials, which was damaged by heavy rains, contained a woman and a child surrounded by offerings of copper wreaths and ceramic vases, including an erotico , a pottery with a sexual character specific to the Mochicas (read box ).

Ceramics known as "erotico", discovered in one of the three Mochica tombs. ©Ministry of Culture of Peru

The other two tombs were occupied by men buried in the company of camelids and precious objects. In particular copper masks, headdresses, ear ornaments, nose rings (narigueras ), metal pectorals, as well as banners, designating members of the elite.

Close-up of a ceremonial ornament. ©Deisy Cubas / RPP News

These emblems show that we are probably dealing with military leaders, according to archaeologist Walter Alva, discoverer, in 1987, in Lambayeque, of the extraordinary burial chamber of the "Lord of Sipan", the South American Tutankhamun. These recent finds confirm the importance given to military activity among the Mochicas.

Eroticos: “[…] These figurines of a sexual nature discovered in Mochica tombs are closer to the religious sphere than to that of fantasy. The explicit eroticism of these frolics modeled on terracotta vases has moreover been a hindrance to their study, and they have rather been the subject of a lucrative traffic during the XX th .> century. Acts of sodomy, fellatio, heterosexual intercourse […] all these scenes are shaped in the most anatomically detailed way […]”.

Find out more: read the article dedicated to this hot topic in Sciences et Avenir (September 2005), under the title "The Sacred Eroticism of the Mochicas" .