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Relics of the ancient Moche civilization

Updated 11:37 AM ET, Fri January 19, 2018
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A team of Peruvian archaeologists recently unearthed ruins belonging to the Moche civilization. The team discovered two rooms that would have been used by the Moche elite. The walls of the rooms were brightly painted with marine scenes. JULIO REANO/AFP/Getty Images
The murals found in the complex differ from typical Moche artwork. The images are more naturalistic, depicting real-life animals and situations, in contrast to the representations of divinities, supernatural beings and the symbolic, geometric designs normally found on Moche art. JULIO REANO/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial view of the archaeological site shows how the two rooms were adjoined by a porch. A staircase leads up to the banquet hall. Next door was the meeting room, where a circular podium sits in front of the doorway, from which a Moche leader may have made speeches. JULIO REANO/AFP/Getty Images
Inside the banquet hall there were two thrones, of different height, facing each other. The higher one, with seven steps, would have been where the lord or ruler was likely to sit. This set-up imitates a classic scene found in Moche iconography, where the figure sitting on the lower throne offers an impressive mound of food to the powerful leader. Courtesy Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan
One of the longest murals discovered (10m long) depicts a fishing boat. The upper part of the mural is unfinished. The archaeologists believe it was partially disassembled and then intentionally covered around the 5th century, when the structure was suddenly and mysteriously abandoned. JULIO REANO/AFP/Getty Images
The Moche are renowned for their erotic pottery. They sculpted tens of thousands of ceramics, an estimated 100,000 of which remain. Of those, hundreds depict sexual acts, between deities, humans and animals. LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
This piece of pottery, displayed at the Lord of Sipan Royal Tomb Museum, depicts a woman giving birth with the help of two other people. It is thought to have been made for educational purposes. CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images
Most Moche vessels were decorated with symbolic shapes and patterns, painted red and black on a cream background. STR/AFP/Getty Images
A pumpkin-looking Mochica pottery piece is displayed at the Lord of Sipan Royal Tomb Museum in Lambayeque. The Moche were skilled farmers, managing to produce corn, beans, chili peppers, potatoes and squash in desert conditions, with the help of highly advanced irrigation canals. CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images
This is the "Cabeza de Mono" (monkey head) found in the royal tombs of Sipan. The Moche were pioneers of metalwork. They produced a vast range of gold jewelry, with pieces often inlaid with precious stones. ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images
A female mummy, named Lady Cao, was discovered in 2005. She was buried with a crown, 23 gold, silver and copper and many precious stones. The richness of her burial site suggests she was a member of the elite, perhaps a priestess or a political ruler. Courtesy Wiese Foundation
A modern autopsy indicated she had died shortly after childbirth, aged between 25 and 30. Her feet legs and face were tattooed with symbols of serpents and spiders. A replica of her body, produced using 3D technology is on display at the the El Brujo Archaeological Complex. Courtesy Wiese Foundation
Scientists at El Brujo reconstructed the face of Lady Cao, using 3D printing. First, they used a laser scanner to map her skull bones, then they added tissue to the model. Courtesy Wiese Foundation
Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva led the recent excavation. Here, he stands in front of the Sipan Royal Tomb Museum, in Lamabyeque, northern Peru. He is most famous for his discovery of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1987. CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images
Alva stands next to the remains of the Lord of Sipan at the Royal Tomb Museum in Lambayeque. The Moche lord has been described as the richest intact pre-Columbian tomb in the Western Hemisphere. CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images