Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Huaca de la Luna y de la Sol, Peru

Our final visit to the ruins around Trujillo is to the temple Huaca de la Luna. There are actually two temples set perhaps a quarter mile (500 meters) apart with remnants of a village in between and the site is collectively called Huaca de la Sol y la Luna. But right now there is major excavations going on at Huaca de Sol and in the village so visiting is restricted to the Temple of the Moon. Herve, our now regular driver, picked us up at 10am and drove us first to the ticket booth where a new museum is now built and open to visitors. The museum holds all the artifacts that have been found in the area and because work is still ongoing it gets added to almost daily. As it is there are lots of ceremonial and everyday objects that has already been assembled and very well displayed and labeled. The quality and quantity of the artifacts is quite amazing. This area was where the Mochica culture lived and thrived between 100BC and 650AD, when they were conquered by the Chimu who later built Chan Chan and their own huacas. The Moche abundantly created pottery, textiles and metalwork and thanks to being covered by sand, most of the artifacts are intact and amazingly well preserved. We spent over an hour wandering around the museum, completely in awe of the intricate work that these ancient artisans had made. From there Herve drove us to the temple where we met our guide. Unfortunately, at this time all tours are guided and there were about a dozen people in our group. Although the actual tour is in Spanish, our guide spoke English and readily translated for us the parts we did not understand. The temple is in actuality a massive tomb erected over six centuries. Every 100 years (a generation) one layer was filled in and then another layer added on top, rather like an inverse pyramid whereby the smallest layer is on the bottom. As archaeologists and hundreds of workers peeled away the layers and brushed away the sand and debris, they have slowly uncovered elaborate friezes of stylized figures throughout all the levels with only very slight variations in the pattern and color. Each layer is also riddled with rooms and niches where the dead were buried with their worldly goods and it is from these graves that most of the artifacts in the museum were found. The Moche were also quite sacrificial and in addition to animals there is evidence of prisoners being killed and buried as well. Unfortunately as more is excavated, damage inflicted by later conquerors, the Chimu, the Inca and finally the Spanish is uncovered. Our guide pointed out a wall broken and crushed which they say was done by the Spanish Conquistadors and there are some obvious signs, at least to archaeologists, of mass looting. Like Chan Chan, just the sheer size of the huaca is worth the visit but because of the quality of the preserved site, the friezes are much easier to discern than those at Chan Chan and with the colors used, much more dramatic also. The time and money being spent on excavating this area if continued and if the quality of the preservation remains as high as we saw, this site could one day rival Machu Picchu in its architectural quality and value. As at Huaca Arco Iris, there are some souvenir stands which sell pottery made with the same method as the Moche and using molds found at the site. We bought a couple of pieces for ourselves and a piece for Herve, who has been so informative and kind to us over the last few days. We enjoyed this huaca very much and give it 2 thumbs up. Herve also liked his pottery that we got for him.

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