Perhaps one of the most fascinating bits about Peru’s ancient Moche culture is that even though they ruled this coastline over 2,000 years ago, we just now today are beginning to unearth the secrets of their civilization. At no place is this more apparent than at the archaeological complex of El Brujo, a collection of temples in the Chicama Valley that depict gruesome scenes of torture and burial and date back over 4,000 years.
Of the three complexes at the El Brujo complex, the Huaca Cao Viejo offers the most for visitors to experience, see, and explore. Constructed by the Moche between 200-600 AD, the Huaca de Cao has interior artwork which is similar to the Huaca de la Luna, although unlike its famous Trujillo counterpart, the artwork here hasn’t been restored at all and exists in its original state. This area wasn’t excavated until 1990, and dry sands of the coastal desert have been preserving these colorful paintings and murals for well over 1,500 years.
Archaeologists also curiously unearthed a mummy that had been wrapped in 26 layers of cloth, only to discover it was a young woman who was wearing symbolic pieces of gold. Given the care taken to bury the body, it’s believed the woman was one of the few Governesses to exist within the Moche Empire. Next door, at the Huaca Prieta, the structure by the ocean is believed to date back to 2,500 BC, although excavations are still taking place and the site is closed to the public.
The El Brujo Archaeological Complex is located in the Chicama Valley 37 miles from Trujillo. Taxis and private tours make the 1 hour and 15 minute journey from Trujillo, and the entrance fee to the site is $4. El Brujo sees much fewer visitors than the Huacas de Moche, and be sure to pack some snacks and water since the site is a bit more remote.