Lord of Sipan

Lord of Sipan

The Lord of Sipan is the tomb of an important leader of the pre-Inca civilization Moche, which was found by the Peruvian archeologist Walter Alva in 1987.

According to several scientists, this tomb is the most important archeological discovery of America in the last 30 years. The tomb of the Lord of Sipan is the unique tomb of the Moche culture that has been found intact; since, most tombs of the region have been looted by thieves.

The tomb was found in the Lambayeque region at north of the Peruvian coast. The place where the tomb was found is known as “Huaca Rajada” and is located to 35 Kilometers from the city of Chiclayo. The tomb was found within a complex composed by three pyramids made of adobe, one of which contained the mummy of the Lord of Sipan and his entourage.

The tomb contained a great numbers of items made of gold, silver, copper and gems. All pieces were worked with mastery in metallurgy. The jewelry found in Sipan is the greatest evidence of the ability of the ancient Peruvian to work with metals.

The collection of items of the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan includes around 400 jewels, amongst them: elaborate masks, necklaces, earrings and much other beautiful jewelry. In the tomb there had also many ceremonial utensils such as sea shells of the genera Spondylus and Conus, rattles, knives, amongst other.

The mummy was found inside a wooden sarcophagus and belonged to a man of 1.67 meters (5 feet 4 inches) tall approximately, who died when he was 35-45 years old. His clothing includes pectoral, helmets, ear rings, bracelets and falconry.

One of the most impressive pieces of the tomb is his necklace whose right side is made of gold and its left side is made of silver, symbolizing the Sun and the Moon. Another amazing jewel that was found in the tomb, was a necklace composed by ten gold beads that depict a spider, in midst of which there is a human head.

Next to the mummy of the dignitary, were found the bodies of eight people who are buried with the Lord, because of high rank that held the owner of the tomb.

Archeologists believe that amongst these people were the wife and two concubines of the Lord of Sipan, a military commander, a banner holder, a watchman and a child. These people were buried in coffins of cane. There were also several animals, amongst them a dog, which was probably the pet of the Lord of Sipan. The tomb contained also several dozens of vessels that probably contained food and drinks.


The Moche culture ruled in the entire northern Peruvian coast, several centuries ago. In the IV century AD, Moche people buried one of their main leaders. Like all the important leaders of this civilization, this warlord was buried with his head pointing south and with his ears and nose covered with jewelry of gold, silver and gems.

Tomb of the Lord of SipanThe tomb survived intact during almost 1600 years. Despite constant lootings that took place in the zone along the time.

Fortunately, the tomb was discovered only in 1987, when the Peruvian archeologist Walter Alva did the most important archeological discovery of the last 50 years. The excavation made by Alva was compared to the finding of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt.

After their discovery, the objects found in the tomb of Sipan were exhibited on many countries of America, Asia and Europe. In 1989 , investigators of the Brüning Museum discovered two new tombs in Huaca Rajada, “EL Sacerdote” (the Priest) and the tomb of “EL Viejo Señor de Sipan” (the Old Lord of Sipan).

Both tombs contained also a great number of items such as gold and silver jewels, chest protectors, shells and peculiar pictures. Most pieces of Sipan were restored in Germany by the Mainz Museum between 1988 and 1993. When the exhibition returned to Peru, it was hosted in the Brüning Museum.

Nevertheless, Walter Alva prompted the construction of a special museum to save the items of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. Therefore in 2002 was inaugurated the museum Royal Tombs of Sipan, whose architectonic design was inspired by the ancient truncated pyramids constructed by the ancient Moche civilization.

The museum hosts most objects found in the tomb of Sipan and other objects belonged to the Moche civilization. Its collection is composed by around 2000 pieces of gold.

The Tomb of the Lord the Sipan is currently one of the most important archeological centers of South America after Cusco.

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