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Reconstruction of the Tomb of Lord of Sipán (Sipán, Peru)

Moche Archaeology at Sipán


Tomb of Lord of Sipan (Sipan, Peru)

Moche Archaeology at Sipán - Tomb of Lord of Sipan (Sipan, Peru)

Bruno Girin
Excavations conducted at Sipán by Walter Alva discovered many tombs, including three large funerary complexes. The individual buried in Tomb 1 and illustrated here is known as el Señor de Sipán (The Lord of Sipán). Tomb 1 is a room-sized burial measuring approximately five meters on each side. A coffin made of wooden planks with copper ties held the primary individual, a relatively tall male between 35 and 45 years of age. Additional people buried with the main individual included three adult males, three adolescent females, three adolescent males, one child, and one adult female.

A total of 451 gold, silver, copper, textile, and feather objects were buried with the Lord of Sipán, including banners of gilded metal, made of small square metal plaques sewn onto a thick cotton cloth. Each of the banners had a central figure with outstretched arms, also composed of metal plaques. Several pectorals composed of hundreds of shell beads were recovered from the grave, as were three pairs of ear ornaments, necklaces, and a gold and silver scepter. An enormous crescent headdress ornament made of a single large sheet of gold with a plume of feathers was buried with the Lord, as were two backflaps, trapezoidal sheets of beaten gold that warriors wore attached to the back of their costumes.

This image is a reconstruction of the tomb, in place for visitors to Sipán.


Alva, Walter. 2001 The Royal tombs of Sipán: Art and Power in Moche Society. pp. 223-245 in Pillsbury, Joanne (ed), Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Alva, Walter and Christopher B. Donnan. 1993. Royal Tombs of Sipan. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles.

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