Architecture and its Function II

There are various recurring themes that aid us in reconstructing the possible function of this building. Clearly, it was a temple dedicated to the principal gods of Moche society, gods linked to human sacrifice cults or to a general cult to the dead. Some of these recurring themes include:
  • a)The Huaca de la Luna lies at the foot of a large hill, the most prominent in the lower Moche valley. We know from the Spanish chroniclers and from Colonial documents that mountains were considered great "apus" (deities) and were widely worshipped. Indeed, the rock outcrop at the Huaca de la Luna is surrounded by plaza 3, next to which the Moche built a small platform, (platform 2). In addition, many portrayals in Moche art of sacrifice scenes feature a mountain with one or two platform mounds at its base. These could well be Cerro Blanco and the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna.
  • b)The recurring image of the principal god (the Winged Decapitator) in the murals and the reliefs in several construction phases points to the continuity of the cult over time.
  • c)The discovery of officiants' tombs in the fill which "buried" the old buildings underscores the sacred nature of this building.
  • d)The small rooms with gabled roofs and high windows recall those shown in sacrifices depicted in narrative scenes. These rooms may have served as places to prepare or instruct those about to be sacrificed or those who carried out the rite.
  • e)Finally, only on the Huaca de la Luna (platforms I and III) did archaeologists find decorated walls and there is no evidence for domestic activities, unlike the Huaca del Sol. Possibly, the Huacas complemented each other, with one serving an administrative function and the other a religious one.

This new evidence allows us to suggest interpretations which underscore the sacredness of the site and its role in the composition of power in the heart of Moche society. One of the more interesting aspects that we have been able to reconstruct, albeit in a fragmentary fashion, is the basic structure of the ideology of power in Moche.

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