More than 1,500 years ago, a pre-Columbian civilization inhabiting the northern coast of what is now Peru erected a humongous structure in honor of the sun.
Called Huaca del Sol, this supermassive temple is believed to have been constructed by the Moche civilization.
The ancient culture flourished in the region from around 100 to 750 AD. They were a people who were agriculturally based and invested a great amount of time and resources in building an intricate network of irrigation canals, that eventually allowed them to supply water for their crops.
It was one of the most sophisticated cultures of ancient times in Peru. Evidence of their history can be found in numerous artifacts where we can see organized people who participated in numerous activities including hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice, sexual encounters, and elaborate ceremonies.
But they are most famous for the gold work, their ‘huacas‘ and irrigation systems.
A temple unlike any other
Around 450 Current Era, the Moche had completed as many as eight different construction phases on the Huaca del Sol.
They started out small, adding more and more material to the structure. They laid down layers of new bricks on top of older bricks.
It was an additive process requiring a LOT of bricks.
In fact, archeologists argue that the structure is so impressive that the ancient Moche used more than 130 million adobe bricks, eventually completing what was long considered the largest pre-Colombian adobe structure ever erected in the world.
Its size is evidence of its importance.
In fact, according to archeologists, several different telltale signs suggest that more than one hundred different communities participated in the construction of the Huaca.
The Huaca del Sol does not stand alone.
Together with the Huaca de la Luna, the two temples make up the Huacas de Moche, part of the ancient capital city of the Moche called Cerro Blanco.
Although being the smaller of the two temples, the Huaca de la Luna has provided experts with the most archeological information on the area.
That’s because during the seventeenth century, at the height of the Spanish Conquest, the Spanish conquistadors damaged and looted the structure greatly.
In order to facilitate the looting and transportation of gold from the temple, the Spanish redirected water from the Moche river to run past the base of the Huaca del Sol.
This caused great damage to the temple.
Experts argue that two-thirds of the Huaca del Sol have been lost to erosion and looting.
An ancient mud-brick wonder
The Huaca del Sol was built of four main levels. There is ample evidence that suggests the temple was rebuilt and added to by different rulers throughout history.
The structure which today states at around 41 meters in height was once a towering 50 meters high temple with a abase of 340 meters by 160 meters.
Located at the very center of the Moche Capital, the Huaca del Sol is believed to have been used for a number of purposes including ritual activity, ceremonies as well as a royal residence and burial chamber.