Elite of Huaca Loro, Painting by Christiane Clados-Gold
Mask, National Museum
of Sicán, Lambayeque,
from A.D. 800 to 1375, Sicán was a society of farmers,
ceramic artisans, fishermen, and metalworkers. It built
adobe - brick platform mounds for ceremonial and funerary
purposes. The region, a broad river valley extending some
25 miles between the Pacific Ocean and the Andean foothills,
is called Batán Grande. In 1978, surveying the
area to prepare for fieldwork archaeologist Izumi Shimada
found that looters had dug thousands of holes to reach
tombs that contained gold ornaments and other valuables.
Than Gold: A Hidden Culture Comes to Light
Izumi Shimada 2004
north coast, running about 200 miles along the Pacific,
boasts fertile river valleys. The pre-Incan culture that
Izumi Shimada named Sicán means "temple of the
moon," the indigenous name for the place where its
capital was located. "What you're looking at is agricultural
productivity, says Shimada. That typically means large populations,
and it's inevitable there would be some sort of important
cultural development. And that's exactly what you have in
the north coast. It was a succession of complex societies."
and Silver in situ, Photographs National Museum of Sicán,
their Moche precursors, the people of Sicán built
monumental temples and palaces where rituals and funerals
demanded splendid paraphernalia. The people of Sicán
built highly refined irrigation opening the desert to richly
productive agriculture. A far-flung trade system brought
in feathers from the Amazonian tropical rainforest to the
east and lapis lazuli from Chile, far to the south.
lords of Sicán were buried in deep tombs, lying at
the bottom of vertical shafts. In 1995 Izumi Shimada excavated
one of the richest tombs ever found in the western hemisphere.
It contained more than a ton of precious metal shaped as
jewelry and of ritual artifacts. They show the highly perfected
techniques achieved by Sicán gold and silver smiths.
Sican: Lesson Plan (PDF File)
Culture of Sicán:
Treasure Tomb From Peru's Desert Coast