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Peru: Cao Viejo was Moche Culture's most important temple, research suggests

Photo: ANDINA/Luis Puell

Photo: ANDINA/Luis Puell

16:00 | Trujillo (La Libertad region), Oct. 23.

In his book titled "El arte moche en el antiguo Perú, simbolismo y poder" (Moche art in ancient Peru, symbolism and power), archaeologist Regulo Franco affirms that —during the late Moche occupation (7th and mid-9th centuries)— Huaca Cao Viejo was the most important temple, where Moche Civilization's center of power would have been located in the past.


According to his hypothesis, Franco claims that the Mochica sociopolitical organization was composed of rulers (kings or Alaec) in each valley of the northern coast. However, he underlines that Cao Viejo (Old Cao) was the most important temple and center of power between Chicama and Moche valleys, current territory of Peru's La Libertad region.

Recognized worldwide for finding Lady of Cao's funeral bundle, the Peruvian researcher refers that —after several years of study— he has important elements to raise this hypothesis, which contravenes that of North American researchers, who used to affirm that the Huacas of the Sun and of the Moon had served as the capital of Moche society.

The Cusco-born archeologist points out that —after studying the murals— it is evident that the same ceremonial spaces located in the upper part of Huaca of the Moon, the public ceremonial plaza, and the spaces attached to the ceremonial plaza were also witnessed at El Brujo (The Sorcerer) Complex.


However, in Cao Viejo, these structures have not withstood time and have unfortunately been destroyed by the sea breeze, the salts, and the trade winds which have been damaging all the architectural remains over time.

"If you compare the scene of the prisoners, the beheading, the officiants holding the hand of Huaca Cao and the analogous representations of Huaca of the Moon, you will notice differences, and you will realize that those of El Brujo are very well made, that means, they are much finer. When you have the power, you bring the best to build your temple. It was a group of artists, read notably, who shaped the reliefs at El Brujo," he says.

Wari ideology

Another element that reinforces the academic's hypothesis is that —during the Wari occupation period— an apparently-planned destruction of Cao Viejo was carried out. This new culture made a new religious ideology prevail in this valley.

(END) LPZ/MAO/MVB

Published: 10/23/2020
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