Chiclayo…the City that Makes You Sweat

July 16, 2008

Arrived in Chiclayo on July 14, 2007. We took an all-night bus to reach the city from Lima. We spent the majority of the firsts day walking around town and buying various supplies for the project. I can’t help but compare the experience with what would be an equivalent in the U.S. For example, to make something as simple as pin flags, we had to buy a bundle of wire, flagging tape, wire cutters, and glue. We also needed to buy some PVC piping, black spray paint, and masking tape to make photographic scales. Understandably, this is a custom item, but we had to go to four different stores just to find the right size PVC pipe. I’m all for supporting local businesses back in the U.S., but I wonder if the same people that bemoan the loss of local stores to big boxes like Wal-Mart and Home Depot would be willing to walk in 90-degree heat to four different stores just to find six feet of 1-inch diameter PVC, paint, and some wire. Say what you will about big-box stores, but they are incredibly convenient sometimes.

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan

Today, after doing some final shopping, we headed to the Sipan museum, or properly, The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan. For those non-archaeologists out there, Sipan is site belonging to the Moche culture. The Moche are known for their fantastic pottery, very risque pottery designs, and their amazing metallurgical work. Two main tombs were excavated at the site of Sipan, and these contained what have become known as “The Lord of Sipan” (the first burial encountered) and “The Old Lord of Sipan” (a chronologically older burial that was encountered by archaeologists after the first).

No photographs are permitted inside the building, so unfortunately, I can’t share. I bought a book for my mother, who, despite having fainted at the thought of me living in her basement until I was 40 after I informed her of my decision to study archaeology in college, has actually shown a great interest in the discipline as she nears retirement. The Sipan museum is considered by many folks to be one of the best museums in South America, if not the world (at least according to the FootPrint Guide to Peru), and a definite must-see if you ever make it to the Lambayeque region. The museum documents the finding of two royal tombs associated with the site of Sipan, and I guarantee that the amount of gold, silver, copper, shell, and other items that they found will completely blow you away.

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