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Sipán, a center of Peru's Moche culture, is an archaeological site discovered in the 1980s. In addition to pyramids, ramps, and platforms, several important tombs have been excavated. Archaeologists working at Sipán have been able to reconstruct part of America's pre-Hispanic past in terms of utensils, objects of the Moche culture, funeral ceremonies, power relationships, social stratification, and overall worldview. The Moche culture evolved on the northern coast of Peru between the first and seventh centuries ce. The Moche people's use of irrigation technology allowed them to produce agricultural surpluses out of the desert. Along with good management of resources from the sea, this gave them a sound economy that facilitated their development. The Moche experienced a flourishing copper era, as evidenced by copper ornaments, weapons, and tools found in the tomb of El Señor de Sipán.

The tomb of El Señor de Sipán, or the Lord of Sipán, dates back to about 300 ce. The find was of great importance to archaeologists because the main tomb had not been disturbed or looted. Due to his semidivine rank, this dignitary was buried with his offerings, worldly goods, provisions, and attendants. For the Moche, death was not the end; burial of the body along with a man's possessions reflected his status and position in society, thus allowing him to retain his position in the afterlife. The Lord of Sipán was buried with his headdress and several tunics, in which, according to Moche iconography, dignitaries like the Lord of Sipán presided over ritual ceremonies.

In the complex burial site, two llamas and a boy were found inside the burial chamber. There was a military chief on one side of the lord, a standard bearer on the other, and his young wife at his head. At his feet was his principal wife, holding a crown, and near his head a third woman. This entire arrangement was sealed, with the body of a guard for the chamber buried in the layer above.

See alsoArchaeology; Moche.

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