Friday 31st August – Trujillo

Today I went on a tour of the local archaeological sites in the Trujillo area. I decided to take the tour in Spanish, in part to practice and in part to save some money! It was a bit of a whirlwind tour but the sites were all well worth visiting so it was worth the craziness of being bused from place to place. 

Our first stop was at the Pyramids Arco Iris and Esmerelda. These adobe (clay mud) block structures were built by the Chimu people and are now located right in the middle of the city. The name comes from the decorations that cover the walls. It was a religious complex and there were a number of pits where offerings to the gods and sacrifices were made. 

The next place we visited was the museum of Chan Chan. It contained a number of artifacts recovered from the Chimu temples and some information on the ways of life of these people. The next stop was the big ticket item. The vast Chimu city of Chan Chan itself. It was established in about 1400 AD. The Chimu people lived close to the coast and the city was huge, spanning 20 square kilometres. We were able to tour the partially restored palace area in the centre of the city. It was not too hard to imagine the grandeur and the scope of the place. The carved shapes into the clay mud stone are amazing and very geometrical. We could have spent hours there, but we didn´t have too much time, so we moved on after a brief tour. 

Lunch was in the seaside town of Huanchaco. It was a pretty grim looking place, not the cleanest looking beach, but the only place in Peru where you can see the reed boats that the local fisherman still use. They are pretty cool looking – but don´t seem like they would be very functional! I had fish soup and fish and rice for lunch for about $4. Delicious and very cheap! 

After lunch we continued our tour. We headed to the other side of town to visit the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon which were built by the Moche people between the years 200 to 850 AD. The Moche people built these temples in stages with each generation closing off the level of the person below and constructing a new level. The result was the 43m high Pyramid of the Moon, built over 5 levels. During the 1990s and 2000s the excavation work was undertaken and many of the artefacts were moved to the nearby museum. When we toured the site, we were able to see the amazing wall paintings inside the tombs. The colours are brilliant deep reds and blues. The Pyramid of the moon was a religious centre and the Pyramid of the Sun – which is the tallest pyramid structure in South America and still has not been excavated, is thought to have been a centre of commerce, with the important people living down in the valley below. In the Pyramid of the Moon, it is known that human sacrifices were made – there were 75 skeletons found in one particular area. These are thought to be the losers in a type of sport that the Moche used to play. You lose, you are sacrificed!  The walls at the end of the tour are huge in scope and are the outside of the final Tomb 5. There is a mural which represents the folk stories of the Moche people. The huge rock mountain directly behind the pyramid represents the life and the heavens while the inverted pyramid represents the after life.

The visit to the museum which contained all the artefacts from the Pyramid of the Moon was also really interesting – the detail and beauty of the almost 1000 year old pottery was incredible. We are so lucky that the Moche had built their pyramid in the way that they had which protected the tombs and stopped the tomb raiders from stealing all the artefacts. 

Saturday 1st September – El Brujo Archeological Museum

Day trip today to the El Brujo Archeological Museum. This was a little bit of an effort to get to (on public transport)– as it was 60km from Trujillo to the North. But I really wanted to visit this place – this was where they found the earliest evidence of a female ruler in Peru. She was buried in a tomb surrounded by priceless artifacts which miraculously were not looted over the years. El Brujo was one of the most important Moche religious sites. The Moche people lived well before the Incas who eventually took them over. The Cao Viejo (old pyramid) where the lady of Cao´s mummy was found has some wall murals still preserved like the Huaca de la Luna. I also toured the museum which was the best by far I had visited in Peru. The artefacts were incredible, and the funeral chamber where you could see the Mummy of the lady of Cao was incredible – I could see her skeleton and traces of the tatoos that she had on her skin. Incredible!  Her mummy weighed over 200kg and contained 70m of cloth. She was also entombed with a young woman. And in her burial chamber there were three other high ranking officials buried, including a priest. It was great to see this place and well worth the effort in getting there. Peru has so many archaeological sites and it is very difficult to protect and present them all to the public. This was a great example of perfect preservation and presentation of these ancient treasures.