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4 October 2012 / leggypeggy

Lord of Sipan—not your average mummy

Museum of the Lord of Sipan

Museum of the Lord of Sipan

Usually I don’t mind too much when my camera isn’t allowed in to a historical site or museum. But I’d love to be able to show you some of the wealth and unexpected treasures we saw in the museum of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan (Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan).

Walter Alva, a Peruvian archaeologist, found the intact tomb in 1987 in the Lambayeque Valley in northern Peru, close to the coast. It was a Moche burial mound, and I can hardly imagine the awe, joy and disbelief that swept over Alva as more and more of the tomb and its treasures were revealed.

For starters, there was a lot of art in the tomb, showing what excavators assumed to be a deity being worshipped by followers. It wasn’t until they scratched their way down to the mummy and accompanying finery and hangers-on that they realized the deity was actually a real person—who they then dubbed the Lord of Sipan.

Lord Sipan probably ruled the region. His tomb was filled with jewelry and ornaments that denote the highest rank. We saw gold, silver and turquoise beautifully worked into nose and earrings, necklaces and bracelets, cuffs, falconry, chest plates, helmets, crowns, headdresses and more.

The pottery was expertly shaped and intricately decorated. Clearly it was only the best for the Lord of Sipan.

He had his entourage too. His companions in death included a wife and a couple of concubines (or servants), a military commander, a watchman, a banner holder and a child. And of course the family dog and llama.

A lot of thought and effort has gone in to creating the museum, which opened in 2002. Items are elegantly displayed, with numerous explanations (some in English) and replicas of various parts of the tomb.

I timed my stroll through the museum perfectly. I moseyed along near Sammy, our overland guide, who is fluent in Spanish. She’d heard of, but hadn’t been to, the museum before, so was as keen as the rest of us. I bet it becomes a regular stop on future overlands.

And admission was a bargain at about 10 soles (less than $4) per person. But the only photo is from the exterior of the museum, which has been made to look like a tomb.


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise Scrivener / Oct 4 2012 2:21 pm

    oooh! oooh! oooh! LOVING this one extra ‘speshially ; )


    • leggypeggy / Oct 4 2012 2:26 pm

      Wish you could see the goodies from the tomb. Chan Chan temple and Sun and Moon temples coming soon.


  2. Derrick / Oct 4 2012 6:03 pm

    Ah you have got to learn to be sneaky when taking photos, I have on my trip, but I have found if you don’t use the flash they tend to turn a blind eye
    Haven’t had any real dramas with photos so far


    • leggypeggy / Oct 4 2012 10:22 pm

      I do okay with sneaky, but this place shakes you down before you go in. We all had to troop back to the truck to leave our cameras.



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