Peru archeologists inaugurate new museum at Sipan

Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:41pm EST
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By Pilar Olivares

LAMBAYEQUE, Peru (Reuters Life!) - The newest display of Peruvian archeology opened on Thursday -- just a few feet from where the golden tomb of the Lord of Sipan, dubbed the "Tutankhamen of the Americas," was discovered in 1987.

The museum, called Huaca Rajada, includes finds made at the sprawling archeological dig since 2007.

Flanked by ancient pyramids that now look like dusty mounds, the new museum showcases masks, ceramics and jewelry that historians say are from the ancient Moche culture, which flourished on Peru's coast from about 100 AD to 600 AD.

The new museum, which officials hope will draw 35,000 visitors this year, is about an hour's drive from a larger museum, called the Royal Tombs of Sipan, which opened in 2002 and contains the biggest pieces of the original finds made 20 years ago.

Walter Alva, an archeologist credited with the Sipan find, started digging at the site after hearing that tomb robbers were selling artifacts they stole from the area on the black market to private collectors.

Peru is a country rich in ancient treasure. It has hundreds of sites that date back thousands of years and span dozens of cultures, including the ancient Incan empire that was in power when Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s.

Luis Chero, the director of the Huaca Rajada museum, said only 10 percent of the site has been excavated and that more finds are expected.

(Writing by Maria Luisa Palomino; Editing by Terry Wade)