Archaeologists at the Huaca de la Luna, or Temple of the Moon, in northern Peru have found a grave with an impressive array of offerings, including peculiar ceramics of feline claws.
Archaeologist Santiago Uceda, co-director of the Huaca de la Luna and the nearby Huaca del Sol, or Temple of the Sun, said that the grave was most probably that of an elite member or governor of the Moche, a civilization that flourished along Peru’s north coast from between 100 AD to 800 AD.
Two friezes have also been uncovered, depicting rows of people holding hands, by a team of investigators led by archaeologist Enrique Zavaleta. Uceda told the state information agency Andina that the theme of the friezes is “complex.”
The offerings found in the grave included ceremonial pottery, two bronze ear spools, a mask, sheets of metal, and ceramic feline jaws and claws, according to daily El Comercio.
Uceda, who co-directs the site with Ricado Morales, said that the feline offerings appear to have been part of an attire made of animal skin that was used in ritual combat ceremonies, where the losers were sacrificed and the winners received the offerings as an honor.
Uceda believes that the person was probably buried towards the end of the Moche civilization. “He was born here and he had the right to be buried here,” he said.
The Huaca de la Luna is located just outside Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city and capital of La Libertad province. Both huacas are the remains of ceremonial sites for the Moche capital city at Cerro Blanco.
The Moche are well-known for their pottery — some of the most varied in the world, with detailed drawings, or shaped as portraits and others as sexually explicit figures. Their friezes in vibrant colors, some of dramatic war scenes and feline faces, are also a main feature on the walls of the huacas.