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Tales of Moche Kings and Queens

Moche queen
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 7:30pm
Maxwell Museum Hibben Center
Free and Open to All
Jeffrey Quilter, Director, Peabody Museum at Harvard University

Tales of the Moche Kings and Queens: Society and Mortuary Practices on the Ancient North Coast of Peru by Dr. Jeffrey Quilter, William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

This year, 2017, marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery in Peru of the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, the richest gold burial in the New World. Since that time, many other tombs of high status Moche lords and ladies have been found on the North Coast of Peru. These discoveries have revealed the high artistic achievements of ancient Peruvians in the ornaments and offerings found in the tombs and opened a window onto the lives and deaths of the elites of one of the Americas’ most fascinating ancient cultures. Heretofore, however, no attempt at reviewing these burials collectively to search for patterns that might inform us on Moche politics and society has been carried out. In this illustrated lecture, Jeffrey Quilter provides a review of his research on this topic including his own participation in the discovery and analysis of the Señora de Cao from the Huaca Cao Viejo in the Chicama Valley. This work not only reveals the marked status differences of different members of the “Moche 1%” but also the significant roles of women in Moche politics, religion, and society.


Jeffrey Quilter is a native of New York City. He attended college at New York University and the University of Chicago and received his doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His main institutional affiliations have been at Ripon College, Wisconsin (1981-1995), as a professor; Dumbarton Oaks (1995) as Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, and Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology where he was Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs (2005-2012) and has served as the William & Muriel Seabury Howells Director from 2012 to the present.

 Quilter’s research interests have focused on issues of the nature and origins of complex societies in Latin America. He has been involved with field work in Peru since his dissertation research at the Paloma site (1976) and subsequently. He also engaged in a ten year archaeological project at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica. He has been working in coordination with Peruvian archaeologists at the El Brujo Archaeological Complex in the Chicama Valley, Peru, since 2002 to the present

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Club.