Date of video: Feb 2017
Location of discovery: Peru
This statue of a reptilian humanoid was built around 2008 and is based on characters from the Moche Culture, a civilization who allegedly tortured people in ancient Peru. National Geographic News 2002: Forensic anthropologist John Verano of Tulane University in New Orleans has been investigating a series of grisly executions in the arid valleys of lowland Peru. Evidence from the skeletal remains shows that the victims, who lived during the Moche civilization nearly two thousand years ago, suffered shockingly brutal deaths. Some were apparently skinned alive. Others were drained of blood, decapitated, or bound tightly and left to be eaten by vultures. Verano’s team employs cutting-edge forensic science to carefully decipher the many clues left behind.
So far, the scientists have unearthed more than 100 skeletons buried at different sites between about A.D. 150 and A.D. 650. “This is a tradition that went on for hundreds of years,” Verano said. The grim events revealed by the archaeological findings have long been familiar to scholars from finely rendered pottery and murals of the Moche people. Scenes embellished with abundant bloodshed show victims being humiliated, abused, and executed. In the Moche scenes of ritual battle, various panels show warriors squaring off, locked in combat, or in the aftermath of battle. “A few panels show a warrior triumphing over another, but not striking the loser on the ground”—a sign that battles were not fought to the death,” said UCLA anthropologist Christopher B. Donnan. “Instead, the art suggests that a victorious warrior took the weapons and belongings of the loser, tied a rope around the vanquished fighter’s neck, and led him away naked. The captives were subsequently sacrificed in a bloody ritual, and their bodies—or parts of them—scattered. “We have scenes of the killer of the captive and priests and priestesses drinking his blood,” Donnan said. Other scenes show the loser’s dismembered limbs being used as trophies.
The Mochicas considered the Iguana Man as a powerful character who helped to descend the dead and be the mediator between the world of the living and the dead. The Paseo Yortuque located in the province of Chiclayo in Peru, offers various representations dedicated to the ancient Mochica, among which stands out a statue of Morrop or the Iguana Man, former deity moche, related to death. Although the sculpture of Morrop has been represented using concepts of sculptors of the present time, its construction was based on the descriptions of the old Moche.
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