Before the Incas: Gods and Kings in Ancient Peru

Before the Incas: Gods and Kings in Ancient Peru


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At the foot of the Andes, on the northern coast of Peru, lies one of the most arid deserts on the planet, an inhospitable land where many now-forgotten cultures that have been eclipsed in the collective imagination by the Inca Empire flourished. These ancient societies included the Mochicas (or Moche) – undoubtedly one of the first populations to have created any form of state structure –, who laid the foundations for pre-Hispanic civilisation over 1,500 years ago.

Drawing on recent archaeological developments in the region, notably at the Huaca site near Trujillo and the royal tombs of Sipán, the exhibition offers an insight into the origins and organisation of power within these ancient societies. Who held this power - the celestial gods, the kings, the urban elite and masters, the warriors, the priests and priestesses? How did it manifest itself? An archaeological investigation into the evolution of these political systems through nearly 300 pieces, including unique ceramics.

(Photo: Courtesy Musée du quai Branly).

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