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El Brujo Complex (Peru)

A Moche Civilization Ceremonial Complex


Exterior of Royal Tomb, El Brujo (Peru)

Exterior of Royal Tomb, El Brujo (Peru)

Véronique Debord

El Brujo is the name of a Moche culture complex, and a major religious and population center of the Moche between the first and seventh centuries AD. It is located in the lower Chicama Valley on a natural terrace 17 meters above sea level but close to the seashore. The site has two monumental constructions, called Huaca El Brujo (or Huaca Cortada) and Huaca Cao Viejo (or Huaca Blanca). The best preserved of these is Huaca Cao Viejo. An earlier preceramic settlement is also present near the complex, called Huaca Prieta; it is where evidence for early domestication of chile peppers has been identified.

Huaca Cao Viejo consists of a platform mound and a large plaza. The platform mound has six tiers, and on those tiers are carved several episodes of what scholars have come to call the Warrior Narrative. On one tier, warriors march in a row. On another, a Moche warrior is shown leading ten naked prisoners bound together by a rope around their neck.

Burials at El Brujo

Many other painted and carved murals have been identified at El Brujo, including supernatural creatures and sailing images, collections of animals and images of sacrifice. Burials found at El Brujo include two large royal burials, each with about a dozen retainers (other people buried with them).

Recently identified at El Brujo is a mummified woman with tattoos, buried within a large grave with a great deal of gold and other grave goods. Called la Señora de Cao, she is thought to have been dressed in the role of the Priestess, Figure C in the Sacrifice Ceremony of the Moche Warrior Narrative.

Excavations at El Brujo were conducted at the end of the 21st century by the Proyecto Arqueológico Complejo El Brujo and the Instituto Nacional de Cultura-La Libertad.


This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Moche, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Gálvez Mora, César and Jesús Briceño Rosario. 2001. The Moche in the Chicama Valley. Pp. 141-157 in Pillsbury, Joanne (ed), Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru. Yale University Press, New Haven.

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