About Royal Sipán Tombs
The Sipán Tomb Museum in Peru displays the treasures found at the Royal Sipán Tombs, originally uncovered in the Lambayeque Valley.
History of the Royal Sipán Tombs
The Royal Sipán Tomb was the mausoleum of the Lord of Sipán, a great warrior and a significant figure amongst the Moche people dating back to the fourth century AD. It’s believed he was about 1.63m (5″3) tall, and around 40 years old when he died.
A revered warlord, the Lord of Sipán’s tomb is said to have rivalled that of Tutankhamen in terms of the amount and grandeur of objects buried with him. When the Sipán Tomb was found, the Lord of Sipán was covered in and surrounded with an abundance of gold, silver and jewels. Two of the necklaces he was wearing had gold and silver shaped into peanuts, representing the earth, as well as being an important food crop for Moche society in general.
However, in addition to this wealth of artefacts, the Lord of Sipán’s tomb contained further incredible finds. In fact, the Lord of Sipán was found amongst other skeletons, including those of a dog, a llama and even two young women, possibly his concubines, believed to have been sacrificed upon his death. In total, 451 ceremonial items and offerings were found in his tomb.
It’s thought the huaca (or monument above the tomb) was not looted by the Spanish, but in the late 1980s. Disputes over what was found caused the finds to be reported to the police, who raided the site and brought in a team of archaeologists to further investigate findings.
Royal Sipán Tombs today
The Royal Sipán Tombs artefacts, which include jewels, ceramics, gold and silver objects and pieces made of carved wood, are all displayed at the Sipan Tombs Museum, which is even structured to look like the actual tomb.
The Sipán Tomb Museum is very much a labour of love, created by the archaeologists who unearthed and protected these artefacts. It was opened in 2002, and is a truly great museum – well laid out and interestingly displayed.
It’s closed on Mondays, and photography is forbidden. Be prepared to have your bag thoroughly searched on arrival. Signage is almost entirely in Spanish, so if you don’t speak any, it’s worth hiring an English speaking guide on arrival.
Getting to the Royal Sipán Tombs
The museum is located in the east of the town of Lambayeque, on the road Vizcardo y Guzman. The town is small and you can walk here from anywhere else in it. Lambayeque is about 10km north of the larger city of Chiclayo – buses run frequently between the two.
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