Archaeology’ Picks the 10 Most Important Finds of 2009

Best known for the over-the-top jewelry their rulers wore to their own funerals, the Moche of northern Peru (A.D. 100-800) are the subject of intense debate over how they governed themselves. Were the Moche a collection of squabbling city-states, each in its own valley, or was there a central authority? A discovery in the village of Úcupe suggests the latter. Archaeologists found an array of gilded copper masks, shields, and diadems in the tomb of a local lord that strongly resemble those excavated in elite tombs up to 25 miles away. Since the tombs are all in different valleys, the discovery suggests a unified political order.

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