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Museo Nacional Sicán

 

Location: Av. Batán Grande Block 9, s/n. Carretera a Pítipo - Ferreñafe
Attention: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Telephone: (51 74) 286-469
Entrance: S/. 15 (US $ 4.5 aprox.), students S/. 7.50


The Museo Nacional Sicán is a museum situated in the city of Ferreñafe within easy reach, 20 Km north of the city of Chiclayo. It is along the road to the Bosque de Pómac Historical Sanctuary. The museum was inaugurated in November 2001.

 

Sican or House of the Moon is a museum that gathers objects from the research lead by the archeologist Izumi Shimada, director of the Sican Archeological Project (1978), for more than two decades. The exhibition compiles the artifacts found in the site digs of Batán Grande and demonstrates how they were used or fabricated. The intention is to model different aspects linked to the Sican culture through the representation of the details of domestic life, the manufacturing processes, or production work. The rooms represent excavated tombs and exhibit the burial paraphernalia discovered there. The museum also offers detailed information on the excavation process and site preservation, as well as the chronology, development, trade networks, economic activities, burial patterns, and cosmology of the Sican or Lambayeque cultures.


This unique museum is the result of over two decades of scientific investigation by the Sicán Archaeological Project. The museum is singular in a number of respects: It is dedicated to scientific research of the Sicán culture and dissemination of its results, as well as protection and storage of the material remains of this culture. This exhibit focuses on all aspects of the Sicán people and their culture. You will see details of the domestic life of commoners and the processes of making pottery and metals, in addition to recreation of the tombs of Sicán noblemen with many gold and other valuable goods. Many artifacts are shown in their contexts of use and/or manufacture.


All displayed artifacts were either derived from scientific fieldwork or careful replication using what we know of ancient technologies. In this regard, the exhibit also includes explanations of how archaeologists and their collaborators from other academic fields conduct their investigations on various aspects of the Sicán culture.

 

The Museum is a modern two floor concrete building covering a 2,734.05 m² area. The first floor has administrative offices, a library, artifact conservation laboratories and storage areas as well as a conference hall, a temporary exhibit hall, and a cafeteria. The second floor accessible by a stairway or an elevator (for handicapped individuals) and is dedicated to exhibition of artifacts, illustrations and reproduction models of many aspects of the Sicán culture and people.



THE SICÁN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT

This Sicán Archaeological Project was initiated in 1978 by a Japanese archaeologist, Izumi Shimada, who just two years earlier had received his Ph. D. degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona in the U.S.A.


His dissertation focused on the economic and social organization of Pampa Grande, a large Mochica urban settlement situated in the mid-Lambayeque Valley. The city was built around the gigantic adobe pyramid of Huaca Fortaleza and served as the political and religious center of the latest phase of the Mochica culture.


Having discovered that this city met its demise around A.D. 700-750, he wondered what had happened to the Mochica population and cultural tradition that had persisted over 500 years up to that point and what group filled the political and religious vacuum left behind.


Up to that time, the extensive Lambayeque region had received little archaeological attention in spite of various indications of considerable political complexity, population size, and economic wealth. This region not only had some of the largest adobe mounds in pre-Hispanic South America, but also the highest density of such constructions. In addition, numerous large settlements, a series of large inter-valley canals, and extensive agricultural fields. Yet, the widespread and entrenched opinion of that time saw the Lambayeque region as marginal to the "heartland" of cultural developments on the North Coast, the Moche valley (where the city of Trujillo is located) to the south. Shimada was convinced that the region had been an important cultural center in pre-Hispanic times and merited long-term research.

 

His search to define post-Mochica cultural developments brought him to the Batán Grande - Pómac area of the mid-La Leche Valley, a small valley just to the north of the Lambayeque. He was intrigued by the extraordinary concentration of adobe pyramids and intense grave looting (huaquería) in the area. He counted some 100,000 pits and hundreds of bulldozers trenches in Pómac made by looters seeking rich tombs. The style of architecture and artifacts he saw there also indicated certain continuities with the Mochica culture. He surmised that these pyramids and tombs indicated that there was once a powerful and flourishing culture, that Pómac was a major religious center, and that enough archaeological remains existed to study. Thus, in 1978 the Batán Grande - La Leche Archaeological Project was born later called Sicán Archaeological Project (SAP).


The little that was then known of the Sicán culture was based on study of the art style of looted objects. It was evident that what needed was a sustained and comprehensive investigation based on scientific excavations. Thus, the project set its long-term research aim as gaining a holistic vision of the Sicán culture. More specifically, it aimed to define the chronology, environmental setting, developmental processes, internal organization, and tangible and intangible achievements of the Sicán culture.


To tackle this objective, Shimada planned a regional study lasting at least 15 years. He felt that most archaeological investigations in the Andes did not sustain research on any single topic or region long enough to attain in-depth understanding.


His regional approach also entailed investigation of a multitude of sites in different locations (e.g., capital versus peripheral), and of different character (e.g., residential, industrial and ceremonial), and size. He also assembled a team of specialists from a wide range of disciplines and nations to participate in planning and implementation of field work as well as analysis and interpretation of its results.


Investigation into Sicán metallurgical production, for example, brought together an art historian, a geologist, a goldsmith, an historian, a mining engineer, a mineralogist, and various chemists, metal conservators and metallurgists. Thus, when a Middle Sicán elite tomb containing human remains and diverse categories of objects ("The Huaca Loro East Tomb") was excavated in 1991 at Huaca Loro, many of the same team participated in excavation, analysis and/or conservation. Specialists from England and the U.S.A. were brought to Lima for conservation in the National Museum (Museo de la Nación) of the gold and other objects excavated from this tomb. This arrangement was not only efficient in terms of cost, time and manpower, but allowed specialists to work side by side with Peruvian conservators and students for on-site training and experience.


To date the project team has conducted 16 seasons of fieldwork over the past 22 years, excavating at 16 sites of varied size, period, and character, mostly in the Batán Grande -Pómac area. Many sites were excavated over a span of various seasons. Our surveys have taken us as far north as the Piura Valley and as far south as the Jequetepeque Valley.


Five seasons were dedicated to laboratory work. Over 30 specialists and 40 undergraduate and graduate students representing diverse disciplines and countries (Cuba, England, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Peru, Spain, and U.S.A.) have participated in our project. Thus far, some 70 professional publications and 20 theses (doctoral, master and bachelor) written in English, German, Japanese and Spanish have resulted from our project.


This Sicán National Museum is the result of over two decades of scientific investigation by the Sicán Archaeological Project and cooperation between the Peruvian and Japanese governments as well as generous donations from the Tokyo Broadcasting System. It is dedicated to scientific research of the Sicán culture and dissemination of its results, as well as protection and storage of the material remains of this culture.


Dr. Carlos Gustavo Elera Arevalo
Director of Museo Nacional Sicán


Sicán Photo Gallery



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