Sipán is a Moche archaeological site in northern Peru that is famous for
the tomb of El Señor de Sipán (Lord of Sipán), excavated by Walter Alva
and his wife Susana Meneses beginning in 1987. The tomb of the Lord of
Sipan has been dated to around 100 AD. The site, where fourteen tombs
have been discovered, is considered to be one of the most important
archaeological discoveries in the last 30 years, because the main tomb
was found intact and undisturbed by thieves. Tombs have been found also
in Sipán's Huaca Rajada, an area near Chiclayo. Many huaca have been
found that contain burial goods of Moche jewelry, masks, and art.
The tombs in the area are of adobe construction, of pyramidal shape, now
eroded by successive El Niño events. Excavations continue. A mock-up of
the Lord of Sipan's tomb, complete with replica head-dress, breastplates
and other grave goods, is open to visitors at the museum devoted to this
site, which was opened in 2002. A reconstruction of the Lord of Sipan in
his regalia is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Lima, Peru.
It is believed that the people placed grave goods, including the remains
of servants, to ensure survival of the elite into the afterlife. Also
discovered were hundreds of small clay pots with individual faces,
understood to be offerings made by the lord's subjects.
Several dozens of such Moche tombs likely existed at one time, but
almost all known tombs on the coast of Peru have been looted. This
looting has occurred since at least the Spanish colonial period.
Documented colonial mining laws stipulated how "looting rights" were to
In modern times, the government has declared looting illegal, although
it is still widely practiced. The archaeological sites are so numerous
that law enforcement numbers are often insufficient to protect them.
Mon-Fri 9 Am - 6 Pm ET please allow pop-ups
Monday - Friday
From 9 am to 6 pm ET