Mochica, ancient Native American civilization on the coast of N Peru. Previously called Early Chimu (see Chimu), the Mochica were warriors with a highly developed social and political organization. They built temples, pyramids, and aqueducts of adobe brick, were skilled in irrigation, and produced remarkable ceramics. In their stirrup jars, painted with scenes of everyday life, and their figure-modeled portrait jars they revealed fantasy and humor and achieved an astonishing fidelity to human forms. The civilization, which began c.100 B.C., is believed to have lasted 1,000 years.

Mask of copper and gold alloy with eyes of shell, found in the Huaca de la Luna, Moche River valley elipsis

Dominant civilization on the northern coast of present-day Peru in the 1st–8th centuries AD. The name comes from the great site of Moche in the Moche River valley, which was apparently the capital of the Moche peoples. Their settlements extended along northern Peru's hot, arid coast from the Lambayeque River valley south to the Nepeña River valley. They irrigated extensively, and their agriculture supported many urban centres, which featured stepped pyramids. They were skilled metalworkers and produced sophisticated craft goods, including fine mold-made pottery. The cause of their demise is unknown. Seealso Andean civilization.

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