Some 1,200 years ago, a prominent Moche woman was laid to rest with great pomp and ceremony. Now archaeologists have uncovered her tomb along with clues that testify to her privileged status and the power she once wielded.
The discovery—made over the last couple of weeks at the site of San José de Moro in the Jequetepeque River valley of northern Peru—is one of several that have revolutionized ideas about the roles women played in Moche society.
In about A.D. 750 this revered woman was buried in a large chamber some 20 feet (6 meters) beneath the ground. The earthen walls of her tomb were painted red, and large niches held offerings of ceramic vessels. Two adults, presumably sacrificed female attendants, were buried with her along with five children. (See video of a Moche tomb.)