Recently Uncovered Funerary Structures and Human Remains Shed Light on Ancient Peru’s Mochican Elite

Funerary structures and human remains have been uncovered during excavations at the Moche site of Huaca Bandera in the Pacora district in northern Peru, according to the country’s cultural ministry. These new discoveries show that the site could have been an important location in the life and death of the elite of the Moche people, a pre-Incan society that existed between 100 and 700 CE.

The project was funded by the Peruvian government to create jobs for working-class people in the region. Within the Huaca Bandera site, excavations focused on Walled Complex 2. There, research included both field and office work such as preventive conservation practices, archaeometry research, and radiocarbon dating.

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The complex would have been used by ruling elites in the lower valley of La Leche-Motupe in 850 BCE, during a period of transition from the Mochica to Lambayesque. The adobe and mud site likely served as a ceremonial center.

The team documented the design and architectural elements of a pyramidal platform, particularly the upper section, found at Walled Complex 2.

“Here, we have found a red and cream-colored ceremonial bench, a wall pierced with rows of niches—with the same colors—in reverse order, and a burial place located in the central part of these structures,” said Manuel Curo, archaeologist and the project director.

Noted elements were also found on a Mochica vessel depicting an elite burial ceremony. The scene shows a coffin being placed into a grave with ropes by two mythological figures. This depiction is consistent with burials found at the site.

Researchers believe that the similarities could likely confirm this site as a location where Mochica’s powerful elite operated and were subsequently laid to rest.


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