Located near the city of Trujillo at the mouth of the Moche River in Northern Peru, the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) together with the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun) formed part of the ancient city of Huacas de Moche which was the capital city of the Moche people. The remnants of Huacas de Moche can still be seen between the two structures indicating a densely packed community consisting of residential, administration, workshops, cemeteries and religious buildings. The buildings contained finely finished floors and walls plastered with mud and then painted. Many of the buildings contained storage areas and the remains of hearths, grinding stones, pottery and food. Many of the remains have also been found to have dated to the 1st century BC which preceded the Moche and also to those of the Chimú and Inca which followed them.
Positioned to the west of Huacas de Moche is the Huaca de la Luna, which served as the principal temple for the Moche. It measures 290 metres by 210 metres and rises to over 30 metres in height. Although the Huaca de la Luna is smaller than the Huaca del Sol it is the one which is open to visitors and has provided the most information about the Moche, for whereas the Huaca del Sol was looted and severely damaged by the Spanish in the 17th century the Huaca de la Luna remained relatively untouched.
The Huaca de la Luna consists of three main platforms, each with its own specific function. The northern platform, has suffered extensive damage but the central and southern platforms managed to escape this and have been the focus of excavations. In the central platform archaeologists found a number of graves of people buried with fine ceramics, which suggests that it was used for the burial of the Moche elite. Many of the rooms still show brightly painted murals indicating that it was used for ceremonial and religious purposes.
The eastern platform was the site for ritual human sacrifices which are depicted in a number of painted ceramics found at the site. 42 skeletons of adolescent and adult males have been found at the foot of the platform with many indicating that the cause of death was a severe blow to the head.
The structure incorporated patios and enclosures many with brightly painted murals and friezes. These patios and enclosures where connected by a series of ramps and corridors with the whole structure being developed over 600 years and consisted of six principal construction phases.
The structures at this site are built of adobe, with many of the bricks bearing the mark of the manufacturer. Like in Chan Chan (see above), these structures have not weathered well over the years but the excavation and renovation being carried out does make it an excellent place to visit.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.