The Pyramid of the Moon

The Old Temple

Human Sacrifices

One of the ceremonies that is most depicted in Moche art is the offering of human blood.  This ceremony involved a series of rites that the Moche iconography depicts, the scenes allowing us to infer more about the process.  One of the scenes depicted is the Pyramid of the Moon.

The ceremony began with a ritual combat between Moche warriors, in which the intention was not to kill the opponent but to remove his helmet, in order to take his hair and make him bleed to fertilize the soil.

The winning warriors stripped the vanquished of their clothes, taking them as booty. The losers, completely naked, were tied with a rope around the neck and taken as prisoners by the victors into the Pyramid of the Moon.

The prisoners were locked up for several weeks, ingesting cocaine and hallucinogens to purify themselves. They were then killed, by beheading, and their blood was offered to the gods on the greater altar.

The remains of at least 61 sacrificed people are found in the Old Temple.  Some of them accompanied by raw clay pots, which were intentionally broken, in the form of seated prisoners.

Designed by
This website has been produced thanks to financing from:
Fondoempleo - Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon Archaeological Project - National University of Trujillo - Pyramids of the Moche Valley Board
Translation: Elizabeth Pratt
Jr. San Martín 380, Trujillo Perú. Telefax (51-44) 221269
March 2011