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Sipán (Peru)


Tomb of Lord of Sipan (Sipan, Peru)

Tomb of Lord of Sipan (Sipan, Peru)

Bruno Girin
Definition: Sipán is the name of a large Moche culture administrative and religious center, located in the lower Lambayeque Valley on the northern coast of Peru. The site, likely occupied between about 200 and 800 AD, consists of three adobe pyramids and other features such as ramps and platforms. Discovered in the 1980s when it was being looted, the site has since been excavated under the direction of Walter Alva, director of the Museo Regional Arqueológico 'Enrique Bruning' de Lambayeque.

Several burials of elite residents have been excavated, including el Señor de Sipán (or Lord of Sipán), which included the first discovery of funerary assemblages that matched the clothing and accessories of individuals known from Moche iconography, fine-line ceramic and mural art thought to represent important sacrificial and religious/political rites.

New excavations at Sipán were begun in May 2007 under the direction of Walter Alva, to further investigate the pyramids, preserve what structure remains of the adobe walls, and provide for tourist access.


Alva, Walter. 2001. The Royal Tombs of Sipan: art and Power in Moche Society. pp. 223-246 in Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru, ed. Joanne Pillsbury. National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Bourget, Steve. 2006. Sex, Death and Sacrifice in Moche Religion and Visual Culture. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Donnan, Christopher B. 2004. Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru.. University of Texas Press, Austin.

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