Back into the cars we go and head for the Museo Hauacas de Moche and what an amazing Museum. I could have easily stayed here for the day, however Clara had us moving around fairly quickly explaining from the reproductions and story boards of Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna sites and the many artifacts, so we will have a better understanding of what we will be seeing when we visit the actual sites. This ancient history is obviously her passion and her knowledge is astounding. She is constantly going from Spanish to English (she had a grant to study in Melbourne University and seemed to be pleased I was Australian) as she tells of this remarkable civilisation.
|Museum of Huacas de Moche|
|More of the Museum|
|Explaining the Valley of the Moche|
|View from the Museum|
Back into the cars to now investigate the site, armed with the knowledge we learned at the Museum. The area (inland) is very dry, sandy, and very dusty, I can feel the grit in my mouth and I am sure I look a treat with the wind and sand in my hair but what the hell, everyone else is looking the same. A shower later that night will be a welcome relief.
With Clara’s guidance we walk around the site, visit the temples which are also the tombs of each King or High Priest, once buried they build on top of the tomb, use the area and then when the next King or High Priest dies, the same process happens, ending up to be about six stories high. Again there is a steep ramp leading to a high platform so the people below can witness the sacrifices. Here there is quite a bit of restoration taking place (by the World Monuments Fund).
|El Cerro Blanco|
Huaca del Sol
The Huaca del Sol is an adobe brick temple built by the Moche civilisation. Located at the centre of the Moche capital city, archaeological evidence suggests that this temple was used for ritual activity and as a royal residence and burial chambers. The original structure was composed of four main levels and the temple was continuously expanded and rebuilt by different rulers over time. In its current condition it is estimated that approximately two thirds of the structure has been lost to erosion and looting. The remaining structure stands at a height of 41 metres (from an original height of 50 metres).
|Explaining funerals and what goes into the tombs|
|Frieze inside a tomb|
|Decoration of the tombs with some colour still remaining|
|More decoration, this time of the God|
|Explaining about the sacrifices that went into the tombs|
|Looking down into a tomb|
|more friezes into the tombs, the colour has lasted thousands of years|
Huaca de la Luna
The other major ruin at the site is the nearby Huaca de la Luna, a better-preserved but smaller temple. Along with the Huaca del Sol, it forms Huacas de Moche, the remnants of an ancient Moche capital city called Cerro Blanco. Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) is a large adobe brick structure also built by the Moche. Archaeologists believe that the Huaca de la Luna was a ceremonial and religious site, as well as a burial site for the Moche religious elite.
The de la Luna itself is a large complex of three main platforms. The eastern platform, black rock and adjacent patios were the site of human sacrifice rituals which are depicted in a variety of Moche painted ceramics. The World Monuments Fund has been working at Huaca de la Luna because the site requires conservation work, and has also generated more archaeological data than Huaca de la Sol.
|Platform of Huaca de la Luna|
|Archaeologists at work|
|More of the platform under reconstruction|
|Explaining the Platform|
|The North Platform as it was|
|As it is today|
|The Platform showing the different levels of their Society|
|The lowest are the slaves|
|Describing the Friezes and each level|
|Explaining the reliefs|
|View from the Platform showing more archaeological finds|
A lot of bricks
By 450 CE, eight different stages of construction had been completed on the Huaca del Sol. Huaca del Sol was composed of over 130 million adobe bricks and was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure built in the Americas. The number of different artists’ marks on the bricks, suggest that over a hundred different communities contributed bricks to the construction of the Huacas.
Huaca: Wikipedia definition
In Quechua, a Native South American language, a Huaca or Waqa is an object that represents something revered, typically a monument of some kind. The term Huaca can refer to natural locations, such as immense rocks. Some Huacas have been associated with veneration and ritual. Andean cultures believed every object has a physical presence and two camaquen (spirits), one to create it and another to animate it. They would invoke its spirits for the object to function.
Each separate linguistic group in the Andean empires had its own sacred places. Many of the early civilisations of Peru considered all the world to be sacred and alive; this concept meant that anything of significant beauty or strength would be called Huaca.
The conquistadors extended its meaning to encompass old structures. This meant that the ruins of Moche administrative buildings would be called Huacas just as readily as would their temple.
Time for lunch and as I have already seen Chan Chan, I head back to the Hostel with Clara for lunch, while the French are taken to a restaurant close by. Clara and I take a local bus back, she argues with a woman who wanted the front seat as Clara wants us to sit in the front for a better view, guess who won! Before too long Clara is dozing while I take in the sights back to the Hostel. We wind our way through fields of corn, sugar cane, cabbages, potatoes, and others I didn’t know, cultivated exactly as it has been for centuries, obviously why reinvent when it has worked so well. I enjoyed watching the daily life of these farmers as we whizz by, driving is the only thing that moves fast in Peru.
Soon we are back at the Hostel and I am fortunate enough to share lunch with Clara and her extended family. Lunch is the traditional Peruvian lunch of soup then a main of chicken or beef with beans and rice, very delicious and very welcome. Clara’s granddaughter had just turned 15 and had her traditional ‘coming of age’ party. Boys have theirs at 18. She was dressed as our girls dress for their formal.
It seems each girl has a table with a cake resembling a wedding cake with other sweet delicacies and from the photos she dances with members of her family and friends and then they eat the cake. When I am back in Lima I will find out more about this tradition and add to this post. Anyway it was lovely to be part of the excitement of this young woman showing the (50 odd) photos to her grandmother of her big moment in her life.
Soon Clara was off to finish the tour at Chan Chan while I headed to my room to plan for my trip to Chiclayo the next day. Accommodation now booked with the help from my South American Explorers book, Lonely Planet and trip advisor, I head into town (around 7 blocks) to buy the bus ticket to Chiclayo, buy some dinner and head back to pack up ready for my journey the next day.