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Approximately 28 kilometers (17.4 mi) east of Chiclayo, the formidable complex of Sipán is a great place for archaeology aficionados and history buffs. Since 1987, excavations of the site have uncovered more than 12 royal tombs brimming with sacrificial offerings, pottery, textiles, precious metals and an extensive collection of funerary objects. Some of these objects are considered to be some of the best examples of pre-Columbian art. The pyramids and adjacent mounds mark an important Moche burial site, which was only discovered after priceless artifacts from the area began to appear on the black market. Fortunately, the most extravagant tombs seem to have escaped the attention of local huaqueros (grave robbers).

Among the richest and most interesting tombs located at Sipán is the one belonging to El Señor de Sipán. Archaeologists believe El Señor was an important civil and religious figure in ancient Moche society around 300 A.D. A mere five meters (16.4 ft) long, this tomb was full of archaeological objects, including food offerings, gold and turquoise jewelry, and the bodies of those lucky enough to accompany El Señor in his life after death. Excavations of other tombs uncovered an equally interesting accumulation of objects, including metal and ceramic artifacts, copper decorations, and sacrificed animals. In its entirety, the site provides important clues about Moche society.

The site also has a small museum, and three tombs containing replicas of the objects originally discovered inside are on display. A brief jaunt up the large ceremonial pyramid across from Sipán offers excellent views of the site. The site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and the museum is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission costs $3 for adults, with discounts for national students. Guides can be hired for a few dollars, though they might not speak English. Plan to spend between three and four hours exploring the site.

To get there, take a combi from the Epsel terminal (Terminal Terrestre Interdistrital) in Chiclayo for $0.95, which will take approximately one hour.

27 Apr 2012

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