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Aztec, Inca & Maya


Moche pot in the form of a man's headMoche pot in the form of a man's head The Moche were brilliant potters and metalworkers who built up a kingdom of thousands of people. Their civilization lasted from about AD 100 to 800. Because their homeland along the coast of northern Peru was mostly desert, the Moche built a network of irrigation canals, diverting rivers flowing down from the Andes Mountains to water their crops. Moche rulers constructed massive pyramids, called huacas. The largest of them was the Huaca del Sol, which was the biggest manmade structure in Peru before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

Warrior-priests were the lords of Moche society. Warrior-priests were the lords of Moche society.

Warriors and traders

Moche rulers were warrior-priests who were extremely rich and powerful. They led their armies out to conquer neighbouring peoples and presided over the sacrifice of prisoners to the gods. The Moche traded with other peoples in Peru. Among these were the Nazca, who lived on the edge of the desert farther south.

Pyramid of the Sun

The Huaca del Sol, with city ruins in foregroundThe Huaca del Sol, with city ruins in foregroundThe Moche people built many pyramids, which were used as temples to their gods and royal residences. The largest of them is today known as the Huaca del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun). When it was completed, in around AD 450, it was 50 metres (160 feet) tall. It was built at the centre of the Moche capital city. On its summit were palaces, temples and shrines. Inside were burial chambers. The Huaca del Sol was built using more than 140 million adobe bricks (bricks made from sand, clay, straw or manure, and mixed with water). It was partly destroyed by Spanish conquistadores, searching for gold in the tombs of the Moche rulers.

The Moche made human sacrifices. They may have tortured their victims before sacrificing them in order to draw blood—and may have eaten some parts of them, too.

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