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Late Moche Period

The Late Moche Period corresponds with the height of the Moche society in the Jequetepeque Valley (600-850 AD). In SJM it was characterized by the proliferation of large containers or paicas used for the production, storage, and consumption of chicha, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented corn that was consumed in great quantities during festivals and burial ceremonies that took place at the site. The occupational floors show evidence of intense activity, including numerous hearths, food remains, reusable pots, and well-worn surfaces.

During this period was seen the rise and development of the stirrup-spout bottles decorated with the fineline painting, and the appearance of the Moche polychrome style. At the same time, imported styles arrived from the societies of Nievería of the central coast, the Wari of the south-central mountains, and Cajamarca in the nearby highland. This period also saw the construction of the famous tombs of the Priestesses of San José de Moro, powerful women who assumed the role of governors of the valley.

In the Late Moche Period, the funerary occupation reached its highest point, marked by three types of tombs: simple pits, boot-shaped tombs, and funerary chambers.

Simple pits: These were long, shallow ditches with no standard orientation where a low-status individual was placed, usually without offering.

Boot-shaped tombs: This was the most common type of tomb of this period. They are characterized by a shaft leading to a lateral vault or chamber where an individual and his or her offerings were placed. Boot-shaped tombs were found to contain a large number of crisoles (miniatures), metal objects, camelid bones, objects of shells, and more than 100 ceramic pieces. Among this varied funerary assemblage we can highlight the presence of the Moche fineline stirrup-spout bottles and vessels decorated in the Moche polychrome style.

Funerary chambers: These were quadrangular structures with niches in the walls and roofed with algarrobo beams, in which were buried the most important leaders of the time, such as the Priestesses of SJM. The funerary assemblage of these contexts consisted in most cases of a large quantity of crisoles, ceramic pieces, metal artifacts, Spondylus shells, and clay figurines.

Finally, during the Late Moche Period, the Jequetepeque Valley had already seen a vast expansion of cultivable land, a result of the construction of irrigation canals that served sites such as Cerro Chepén, Cerro Talambo, Huaca Colorada, Faclo, Guadalupe, Cerro Murciélago, Portachuelo de Charcape, Huaca Rajada, Pacanga Vieja, San Ildefonso, and Cerro Colorado, among others.


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