Túcume / el Señor de Sipán

Following on from yesterday, today’s first stop was at Túcume, the Sicán capital from around 1100AD. Another 26 pyramids, pretty similar to what we saw yesterday.


Today’s main objective was Sipán. Slightly confusingly, Sipán is nothing to do with Sicán. Sipán is the place where the unlooted tomb of a Moche governor was found in the 1980s (the Moche came before the Sicán culture) – a huge deal, often described as Peru’s Tutankhamun. He’s known as el Señor de Sipán (the Lord of Sipán).

They later found the tomb of a priest from the same time, and later the tomb of another, earlier, governor, who was accordingly named el Viejo Señor de Sipán (the Old Lord of Sipán).

The dating seems a bit hit and miss – different sources seem to put the Lord of Sipán anywhere between 150 and 600 AD and the Old Lord of Sipán 100-300 years earlier (our guide today went with 300 years; my book says 150 years. He then gave the same information I have in my book, though, which is that DNA analysis showed that the two men were related and most likely 4 generations apart – making 300 years a tad difficult to achieve……).

We visited a modern museum absolutely packed to the rafters with gold and other objects from the tombs. Unfortunately, photos weren’t allowed 😦 I’ve managed to pilfer a few from the internet as examples….

The Moche were well known for their ceramics. I’m not normally one for lingering over the ceramics in museums, but these were really good and not at all dusty-looking. Some of them you could put on the mantelpiece at home and they’d look pretty modern. I liked the old guy on the left in this photo; there were also some very impressive animal vases.


Both bodies were pretty much buried under their mountains of bling: huge earrings, necklaces, chest plates, ceremonial sceptres, gold standards and the like.


I did get some more information today on the nose rings (I’d seen some at the Gold Museum in Lima, but without any accompanying explanation). Apparently, hanging a great big piece of gold plate from your nose meant that the lower classes couldn’t see your facial expressions (you didn’t want to appear to be too human). Also, your voice would bounce off it, sounding deeper and more imposing. Some of them were big gold discs, some were shaped like comedy moustaches, but the one I liked best had it’s own little gold mini-me attached to it.


Here’s what the Lord might have looked like (whilst alive; in the tomb he of course had three sets of huge earrings, multiple necklaces, and so on):


We then visited Huaca Rajada where the tombs were found.


Although both Lords are now in the museum, replicas have been placed in their original positions. The Lord had a much more impressive tomb than the Old Lord, although both contained the same amount of Gold.



The guardian in the top right corner of the Lord’s tomb is interesting. Similar guardians have been found in other tombs at the same site, all with their feet cut off. Apparently the belief was that when you died, you went to the Land of the Dead where you would live on and enjoy the same status you had before. If you put a guardian in someone’s tomb to protect it, you didn’t want them wandering off later, so the best thing to do was to chop off their feet to force them to stay put and concentrate on the job in hand. All very practical….

Other than all the interesting historical stuff, we saw quite a few very cute little owls today. They’re diurnal and nest on the ground…..


No historical discoveries for me tomorrow; I’m off in search of Paddington (well, Paddington’s relatives; as we all know, Paddington himself lives in London these days).

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