Some Historical Background

Writing was never developed in the central Andes. Nothing was known of the Moche culture until the end of the last century when archaeological exploration and material remains revealed Moche's existence. Until that time, the great adobe monuments known today as the Huaca del Sol y de la Luna were described by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish chroniclers as "the works of the gentiles" (indigenous peoples) a term they used to refer to the descendants of native peoples in the New World.

Between 1898 and 1899 German archaeologist Max Uhle excavated at the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna. He found dozens of tombs buried sequentially, one on top of the other. Based on objects from the tombs, Uhle identified three great cultures: the Inca, the Chim? and an earlier one which he dubbed proto-Chim?.

In the late 1920s a disciple of Uhle's, North American archaeologist Alfred Kroeber of the University of California at Berkeley, studied the objects in the Uhle collection and renamed Uhle's ?proto-Chim?? Early Chim?. At the same time, Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, who also excavated on the north coast, suggested that this culture be called Moche or Mochica, referring to Muchik, one of the ancient languages spoken on the north coast. This name is still used today.

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