Peru // Trujillo and the north //

Museo de las Tumbas Reales de Sipán

The Museo de las Tumbas Reales de Sipán, or Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán, is an imposing concrete construction in the form of a semi-sunken or truncated pyramid, reflecting the form and style of the treasures it holds inside. This mix of modernity and indigenous pre-Columbian influence is a fantastic starting-point for exploring the archeology of the valley. You’ll need a good hour or two to see and experience all the exhibits, which include a large collection of gold, silver and copper objects from the tomb of El Señor de Sipán, including his main emblem, a staff known as El Cetro Cuchillo, found stuck to the bones of his right hand in his tomb. The tomb itself is also reproduced as one of the museum’s centrepieces down on the bottom of the three floors. The top floor mainly exhibits ceramics, while the second floor is dedicated to El Señor de Sipán’s ornaments and treasures. Background music accompanies you around the museum circuit using instruments and sounds associated with pre-Hispanic cultures of the region. A musical finale can usually be caught on the ground floor.

The Lambayeque Valley has long been renowned for turning up pre-Columbian metallurgy – particularly gold pieces from the neighbouring hill graveyard of Zacamé – and local treasure-hunters have sometimes gone so far as to use bulldozers to dig them out; but it’s the addition of the Sipán treasures that’s given the biggest boost to Lambayeque’s reputation, and the museum is now one of the finest in South America.